The winner of the Academy Award and the creator of the horror films Trapped and Us, Jordan Peele told Mezha.Media about his new film NOPE, which can already be watched in Ukrainian cinemas.
Your films are always unlike anything else. Please tell us in more detail where the idea for NOPE came from?
It is difficult to talk about the idea of emergence without revealing all the secrets to the viewer. However, I understood that there are practically no such large-scale horror films about UFOs. To a certain extent, I felt that I had to take responsibility for making such a film. Therefore, the idea, concept, and plot were drawn from these considerations.
What inspired you when writing the script?
Humanity, as in all my films, combined with a sense of existential helplessness. Next, I wanted to create a real cinematic spectacle so that as many people as possible would want to come to the cinema. At the same time, I constantly asked myself why we love grandiose spectacles so much. Why do we want to contemplate the magic of cinema, regardless of whether it is beautiful or terrible?
At the heart of the story is the relationship between a brother and a sister – they are completely different, but there is a special bond between them, isn’t there?
Yes, it’s a story about a home and a brother and sister – OJ and Emerald Heywood – who really do have a powerful bond, and they reveal it fully throughout the film. It seems to me that they are the personification of the two different halves that each of us contains. There’s a part of me that’s like Emerald, who wants to be where there’s laughter and social acceptance, and another part of me is OJ, who’s socially awkward and uncomfortable. I am an only child, but I am fascinated by sibling relationships because they are based on primal genetic loyalty. No matter how much they can get mad at each other sometimes, in the end they will always come to each other’s aid no matter what.
What did the actors Daniel Kaluuya, with whom you already worked on Trapped, and Keke Palmer bring to these roles?
They are so different, with such different pasts, but they both managed to perfectly transform into their characters. These two characters act in opposition to each other and as soon as the actors met on the set, they immediately got into character and there was chemistry between them. It looked very believable. At most, I didn’t even have to explain to them their feelings for each other, because they already knew and understood everything. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer complement each other incredibly well and their characters on screen are extraordinary. That’s why their scenes together are magical, and the connection is real.
In addition to this, there are many secondary characters in the film, how did you work with them?
Directors like Paul Thomas Anderson, Robert Altman and Quentin Tarantino inspire me because they work very carefully with their actors. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with extremely talented people in supporting roles.
The film turned out to be quite large-scale, who was responsible for the visual part?
We worked in tandem with cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema. A brilliant creator who previously shot films such as Tenet, Dunkirk, Interstellar, and To the Stars. He is a real genius of cinema and working with him was a real pleasure. In my opinion, he is the only cinematographer who could lay the artistic and technical foundation to achieve certain goals that we planned from the beginning. Also, we shot a lot of scenes in the film with wide-format cameras and IMAX cameras, which I had never even seen before. When I asked Hoyte what cameras he would use to work knowing that this film would be viewed decades from now, he said only IMAX because those cameras allow for a better picture.
Tell us about the structure of the film and the idea of the name cards?
Without delving into the idea and plot, NOPE is structurally different from my other films. It contains a certain deviation from the traditional narrative. I think the name cards helped the audience understand how to watch the film and realize that the narrative style would be different. So the viewer will need to pay attention to things a little differently.
Horror movies have been successful since the beginning of cinema. Why do you think so?
Cinema is one of the ways to overcome our fears that we struggle with. And I truly believe that anything we repress, hold, or hide long enough does not go away. In fact, suppressed emotions and feelings can play a cruel joke on us.
NOPE is your biggest film to date, what lessons did you learn while making it?
A lot! In terms of scale, nothing is unattainable. That’s what I would tell myself and anyone who aspires to make films. In this environment, anything can be achieved if you focus on the work. If you find the right team, work and solve problems together, you can shoot the most grandiose film stories. Starting with King Kong, when the crew didn’t have any of the tools we have now, it was all about innovation. So my goal was to challenge myself and the team and see how far we could push ourselves. And now I feel we can do more.