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Twitter reacts to Jordan Peele's casting comments: 'I don't see myself casting a white dude as the lead'

·Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
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  • Jordan Peele
    Jordan Peele
    American actor and director

The one-two-three punch of Black Panther, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Aquaman changed the complexion of comic book movies in 2018. Now, Jordan Peele is doing his part to bring that change to horror films, a genre where black characters have notoriously been the most expendable. Both of Peele’s two features, 2017’s Oscar-winning Get Out and this year’s certified blockbuster Us, have featured African-American leads, Daniel Kaluuya and Lupita Nyong’o respectively. And the writer/director doesn’t see that changing anytime soon.

Speaking at the Los Angeles branch of the Upright Citizens Brigade recently, Peele remarked: “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... A renaissance has happened and proved the myths about representation in the industry are false.” It’s absolutely true that Peele has no financial incentive to alter his casting choices. Get Out grossed almost $200 million in the U.S. alone, while Us enjoyed a $70 million opening weekend — the third-best debut for an R-rated horror movie behind 2017’s IT and last year’s Halloween reboot. It’s also become the internet’s favorite brainteaser with daily posts exploring its Easter eggs and hidden meanings.

Jordan Peele on the set of his horror hit, 'Us' (Photo: Claudette Barius/Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection)
Jordan Peele on the set of his horror hit Us. (Photo: Claudette Barius/Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection)

That successful track record puts Peele in the enviable position of being able to call the shots about who gets to be in his projects. It’s worth noting that his upcoming revival of The Twilight Zone, which premieres on CBS All Access on April 1, features a similarly diverse cast, including Tracy Morgan, Zazie Beetz and DeWanda Wise. “The way I look at it, I get to cast black people in my movies,” Peele told the UCB crowd. “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."

Peele’s remarks have picked up some full-throated endorsements among Hollywood’s creative community, with This Is Us star, Sterling K. Brown, making it clear he’d love to be considered for whatever the director has cooking next.

Peele’s comments also generated a surprisingly civil (for Twitter) conversation about black representation in major motion pictures, and opportunities for black actors in Hollywood.

In the same UCB conversation, Peele also shared a story about how a failed attempt to join Saturday Night Live’s Not Ready for Primetime Players helped lead to his filmmaking career. In the early 2000s, Peele was part of the MADtv ensemble when he got an offer to make the leap to Studio 8H. Unfortunately, MADtv’s producers put the kibosh on his move from Fox to NBC. In response, Peele decided that he needed to produce content and not just appear in it. "These producers are making these decisions about art and comedy and they don't know anything about art and comedy,” Peele said. “I want to be a producer and bring my artistry and they'll all be sorry." After Get Out and Us, we’re not sorry at all.

Us is playing in theaters now. Visit Fandango for showtime and ticket information.

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