The news about Jordan Peele raking in more money with the opening of his horror film Us, than any other 'original' horror movie in history was not being celebrated by the director over cappuccinos on the Universal lot while being showered with praise by now-richer studio execs. No, Jordan was on a small cramped stage at the legendary Upright Citizens Brigade improv facility in East Hollywood. It kinda makes sense, because Peele got his start in comedy. His improv skills allowed him to make the cut over at MadTV where he was regularly featured on the show. He graduated to doing his own very popular sketch show on Comedy Central, Key & Peele, then came the movie making.
Over at The Upright Citizens Brigade, they are having a "conversation series", which Jordan Peele took part in Monday night. The event was packed with a very diverse crowd of 20 something improv students, aspiring directors and fans. Jordan opened up to the warm, receptive audience, going off for about an hour and twenty minutes. He spoke about his weed smoking days, and his color preference for his leading men among other things.
The young informed audience greeted Peele enthusiastically. His timely success to them representing the possibility of their own success in a studio system changed by emerging landscapes. He charged onto stage wearing dark denim, black nike sneakers, and a T-shirt with Corey Feldman's face on it. In case you missed it, Jordan put a couple Corey Feldman easter eggs in his new film for us.
The moderator, Ian Roberts, began by mentioning Us taking in $88 million dollars, the "second biggest opening for an original live-action film" signaling the correlation of success with money. "I don't envy someone who gets famous overnight," Peele said.
Jordan named off some of his favorite directors which included Tim Burton and Ridley Scott. When speaking on Burton he said, "the aesthetic and the fact that he was telling these fairy tales about 'the other'." Then on Ridley Scott, "Alien and Thelma & Louise were two really important movies for me - very different, but perfect."
Going on about some of his early experiences in show business Peele said he was offered his dream gig: a spot in the cast of Saturday Night Live, but he was signed to MADtv at the time and the producers would not let him out of his contract. His lifetime dream of playing on the famous NBC show was crushed by their decision. Jordan locked himself in a room enlisting the aid of some non-stop weed smoking to plot his revenge, "like a comic book supervillain." At that point he decided to become the guy that was making the decisions.
"These producers are making these decisions about art and comedy and they don't know anything about art and comedy."
Long gone are the days when someone upstairs held the leash on his career.
"I get to cast black people in my movies. I feel fortunate to be in this position where I can say to Universal, 'I want to make a $20 million horror movie with a black family.' And they say yes."
As far as future moves go, Jordan doesn't plan on changing things up. His statement caused the crowd to erupt in applause, agreeing wholeheartedly with the successful director.
"I don't see myself casting a white dude as the lead in my movie. Not that I don't like white dudes, but I've seen that movie. It really is one of the best, greatest pieces of this story, is feeling like we are in this time - a renaissance has happened and proved the myths about representation in the industry are false."
Us is playing now in theaters everywhere. This news comes from The Hollywood Reporter.