Nope star Keke Palmer says Jordan Peele offered her the role after a FaceTime call
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Most horror fans would happily say "Yup" to learning more about Nope. Jordan Peele's third (and very hush-hush) movie, due July 22, finds the writer-director reteaming with Daniel Kaluuya, who played the lead in the filmmaker's 2017 Oscar-winning debut Get Out. But the trailer for Nope teases a very different type of film from both that and Peele's 2019 follow-up, Us, with characters seemingly being menaced by some force in the sky. "Nope is nothing like Get Out or Us," says Keke Palmer, 28, who stars in the film, along with Kaluuya and Minari's Steven Yeun. "It's a totally different vibe, it's about something different — the themes are totally different, and the tone is totally different. This has a lot of '70s tones, which I think is exciting."
Below, Palmer spills a little more about Nope, working with Peele, and her favorite '80s horror icon.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell us about your character in Nope.
KEKE PALMER: Um... [Laughs] What I can say is that my character is kind of a combination of many cool character archetypes. Who you believe she is in the beginning, she continues to grow throughout the film and becomes someone else. I'm excited to just represent a really cool character that is not solely defined by their complexion. I think Jordan has done a great job in all his films of talking about something. Get Out, obviously — a lot of that had to do with a conversation around racism, but then Us is about class, and with Nope you'll take whatever you take from that. But I just love how with everything he does, while there will be Black leads, the gag isn't always that you're Black.
What can you say about the film as a whole?
The film itself is what Jordan usually does: a commentary on something grander. It uses the horror genre as a way to [examine] what we are all running from, or what we all get so totally obsessed with, how it defines us, how it brings us to the edge.
Is it true that you DM'ed Jordan Peele to let him know you'd be interested in appearing in one of his films?
Yes, I did. I mean, he never read it. But I've done that with a couple of people, where I just pay my respects and say, "Hey, I really loved this, if you're ever looking for an actor, I'm into it."
So how did you get the role?
I got word from my representation that Jordan wanted to speak to me about his latest project, and I was just really shocked, and then we set up a FaceTime call. It was really casual. He lightly told me about the film. He was like, "I think this is going to be fun, if you're into it."
It felt so collaborative in a way that I had never experienced before, partially because he got the actors involved at the inception of the idea. He talked to me through the process as he continued to write and develop these characters. It was very much based off what he was learning from myself, and obviously what he already knew about Daniel.
Where did you shoot Nope?
Santa Clarita. That was far out. It was a desert situation. It was like, Oh, my gosh, we have to deal with weather and wildlife. But it's fine. I'm a bit of a tomboy, and Jordan always took such great care of the cast and the crew. I loved the way that we worked through our lunches — I guess they call it "French" shooting days. Once we were going, we were going.
Are you a fan of horror?
I love horror. I got into the '80s-slasher genre a lot. I'm always open to other types, but my favorite franchise character is Freddy Krueger.
You previously appeared in the 2014 creature feature Animal. What was that like?
I loved shooting that. It was a monster movie — it was fun.
I remember a lot of that film also being set outdoors, in the woods.
That was not fun. The outdoors s---? Oh, no, no, no, no. The outdoors in the weeds, in the bushes, in the middle of Connecticut? Oh, hell no. I would have loved another destination, but hey.
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