Jordan Peele Talks Horror Genre's Insight at Britannia Awards: "We Need to Face Our Nightmares"

Jordan Peele speaks onstage during the Hammer Museum's 17th Annual Gala - Getty -H 2019
Presley Ann/Getty Images for Hammer Museum

"It's a genre that doesn't get this recognition often enough," the 'Us' filmmaker, who received the John Schlesinger Britannia Award, told attendees.

At Friday's BAFTA Britannia Awards gala dinner, Jordan Peele shared that he is drawn to the horror genre because he believes "we need to face our nightmares" as he received the John Schlesinger Britannia Award for excellence in directing.

"I feel kind of like the kid version of Jordan, who was an Anglophile and obsessed with all things Britannia, is honored here tonight," Peele said at the top of his speech. He joked that as a kid he was taught to believe Brits were "noble" and "intelligent." The jokes didn't stop there: "The fact that I was able to achieve this incredible honor alongside such amazing talent that I'm obsessed with after just two films says to me that someone's not putting enough thought into this — there's many directors with many more films, prestigious films. I could still very much fuck this up. What if my next film is bullshit?" he asked attendees.

After praising many of his collaborators, including actor Lupita Nyong'o, who introduced him, Peele informed the audience he wanted to talk about horror films because "it's a genre that doesn't get this recognition often enough." He added, "I think it's one of the most beautiful and intensely cinematic genres. It's great to see it flourishing at this moment because we really need it. I'm a really believer that we need to face our nightmares and it's best to do that together, where we can laugh and cry and scream and all that shit." 

In her introduction of Peele, Nyong'o recalled feeling that after seeing the director's 2017 thriller Get Out, she thought she would "kill to work with him," and joked that that wish would become quite literal (in Us, Nyong'o plays one quite murderous character). The actress added that Us "underscores Jordan's brilliance in provoking conversations about society through the lens of the horror film." During the Us press junket, she also shared that Peele dressed up as Jack Nicholson's character in The Shining.

Peele followed up Get Out — for which he won the best original screenplay Oscar — with this year's horror Us, which starred Nyong'o and Winston Duke in a creepy tale of a family who find themselves taken hostage by their doppelgangers. The filmmaker and Key & Peele comedian also narrated and executive produced CBS All Access' Twilight Zone reboot, in addition to lending his voice for the character of Bunny in Toy Story 4

As a producer, Peele and his Monkeypaw Productions inked a five-year first-look deal with Universal earlier this month to make feature films, and ha also has a TV first-look deal with Amazon Studios. Monkeypaw is currently in production on a feature remake of Candyman, written by Peele and Win Rosenfeld, and the upcoming HBO series Lovecraft Country.