Out of the Sunken Place, Into the Oscars Race: An ‘Overwhelmed’ Jordan Peele is Living his Dream with ‘Get Out’

Jordan Peele on the red carpet for the 49th NAACP Image Awards. (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

If you look back in history, some of the greatest films of all time were genre films that really had something to say about where we are in the world. And ‘Get Out’ is a reflection of a really dark time in our country.

– PRODUCER SEAN MCKITTRICK

When Jordan Peele got the news that the biggest gamble of his career had just earned four major Academy Award nominations, including best picture, best director and best original screenplay, he got on the phone with his “Get Out” star, Daniel Kaluuya — and broke down in tears.

“It was very emotional,” said Peele, the comedian-turned-director who made his directorial debut with the race-themed social thriller, made for a modest $4.5 million, about a young African American man (Kaluuya) who goes to meet his white girlfriend’s family only to find himself trapped in a sinister nightmare.

“Whenever I talk to him about this stuff, I just break down,” Peele said Tuesday morning. “We both went from knowing we were taking this huge risk and that we could very well be hated for the risk, to being here and getting the acknowledgment of our peers — peers who, by the way, we didn’t even feel like we could call our peers a year ago.”

Peele’s nods launch him into the annals of Oscars history with poignant distinction: He is only the fifth black filmmaker in 90 years to be nominated for directing. And he’s the third first-time filmmaker to hit the nominations trifecta — picture, director and screenplay — all at once.

The academy honors remind Peele that he had once sidelined his aspirations of directing because of how improbable they seemed.

“I left my dream of being a director behind long ago, and I think that was because, while I have a great respect for film, I didn’t really believe there was a place for very many black directors,” Peele said. “I thought it would be harder for me as a person of color to convince someone to let me use their money to make a movie.”

“Many years later I came back to my original dream,” he continued. “And the fact that it’s been received the way it has been received teaches me a lot about how I internalized the system.”

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SOURCE: L.A. Times – Jen Yamato