Jordan Peele Talks 'Nope' and Why He Knew Keke Palmer Was Perfect for Role

Complex spoke with Jordan Peele about 'Nope,' casting Keke Palmer, why people love his movies, and being called one of the greatest directors of all time.

Jordan Peele Nope Complex Interview

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Jordan Peele Nope Complex Interview

Jordan Peele just hit a three-peat with Nope

Peele’s third feature film follows his 2017 directorial debut Get Out and his 2019 sophomore release Us, which have both cemented him among the greats in the horror film genre—a claim he doesn’t yet agree with. It might be too soon to say but Nope, which hits theaters on Friday (July 22), is yet another indicator that he is well on his way to being one of the most innovative directors Hollywood has ever seen. 

Get Out changed the game in a lot of ways. It carved a path for more Black horror films, introduced Daniel Kaluuya (who got his first Oscar nomination for the role) into the movie world, and showed that Peele had a promising future in filmmaking. Peele also wrote, directed, and co-produced Nope under his Monkeypaw Productions company so the film is 100 percent his brainchild. And after attending two separate screenings for the most anticipated film of the summer, the only question I was left with is, “What the hell is going on inside Peele’s mind?”

Nope Jordan Peele Interview

Nope is an original story about UFOs, a tale as old as time, but it has never been done quite in this way before. The film follows two siblings, OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer), who are left in charge of their father’s ranch after his mysterious passing. They soon realize that their father’s death was caused by random items falling from the sky that dropped down from an unidentified flying object. 

Down on their luck and struggling to keep the ranch afloat, the brother and sister aim to go viral by capturing the phenomenon on video with the help of a tech salesman named Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) and filmmaker Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott). 

Complex caught up with the director ahead of the movie’s release for a chat about Nope, casting Keke Palmer, why he thinks people love his movies, and what his thoughts are on being called one of the greatest directors of all time.

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I have already been asked if Nope is better than Get Out so I’m sure you’re already getting that question. As a director, do you feel pressure to top your previous work or do you treat them all as separate entities?

You know, I think you have to treat them as separate entities. Because I think even if people think they want you to do something similar, they really want you to break out of that mold and so that’s always the challenge I put on myself. How do I keep some essence of what people like about my work but give him something completely different and that’s how we got Nope

I know casting Daniel felt like an easy choice here, he’s great as OJ, but I think the star of the movie is really Keke. She brought so much humor and joy to this otherwise really scary movie. Did you know right off the bat that she was going to be Emerald?

Yes, I did know off the bat that she was going to be Emerald. In fact, as soon as the character came to me it was Keke. We met early on and I just got a sense of her and got a sense of what she could bring to the role and I basically wrote it for her. I wrote it for her and Daniel and she is just everything you want her to be. She really is that wonderful and that talented.

Nope Keke Palmer
Jordan Peele Nope Complex Interview

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