Jordan Peele on Writing 'Get Out': "I Didn't Know It Was Ever Going to Get Made"

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Jordan Peele

The writer-director was honored last night at the ninth annual African American Film Critics Association Awards.

Jordan Peele didn’t set out to make a blockbuster when he first began writing Get Out. “It started as a fun project,” the writer-director said of his Oscar-nominated box-office hit last night at the African American Film Critics Association Awards gala. “I didn’t know it was ever going to get made. I’d go home, smoke a little bit of weed and I would write. I would watch this movie in my head, this movie that I wish somebody would write for me to watch and that was it.”

But then he wrote the now-famous sunken place scene where Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is hypnotized by Rose’s mother (Catherine Keener). “I knew that something scary needed to happen,” he said.

“I knew that in some ways my movie was an allegory for slavery. But I also I knew that at this point, the structure of the film, it needed to take us on a ride because it’s the horror genre. I wrote this scene in a very vulnerable state. I put my worst fears out there and onto the page, and when I was finished writing that scene, the experience of writing this movie changed.

"I realized what this movie was about. I realized that slavery was not something of the past. The sunken place to me, shouted to me, that in today’s time, in modern time, we have black men and women abducted and put in dark holes. We have our freedoms taken away. … I realized at that point that there were people being locked up and taken out of the world and taken from their families for holding less weed than I was smoking while I was writing this movie,” Peele said. 

AAFCA named Get Out as best picture and Peele took home the inaugural Richard Wesley Award for best screenplay.

“I used to go to the movie theater and watch horror movies — and you know black people, we yell shit at the screen,” Peele said. “I’d go watch like a Freddy movie and you’d hear people saying shit like, ‘Oh, bitch, get out of the house!’ or ‘No. No, no — don’t walk backwards!’ or ‘You’re white — call the cops!’ I got it in my head that there was a missing piece of the conversation. There was a film that we were asking for, begging for that wasn’t there for us.”

He added, “We are a loyal horror film audience, so I wanted to fill that gap. I wanted to fill that void, and the best part of watching Get Out is hearing black people in the theater.”

OWN’s Queen Sugar was named best TV drama series. “I think the making of this show was so genuinely for our community,” said the show's star Dawn-Lyen Gardner. “It was for the purpose of reflecting back the dimension and the humanity and the complexity and the beauty we witness in our own lives and in our own families and in our communities.”

Earlier in the evening, Gardner told The Hollywood Reporter that the cast and crew “are all waiting” for series executive producer Oprah Winfrey to appear on the show. “I feel like it’s going to be a dream sequence,” she joked. “It’s going to be something not quite of our world. She’s just going to float in and be like a fairy godmother.”

Speaking of Winfrey, 14-year-old Storm Reid talked to THR about starring alongside the media mogul in the upcoming A Wrinkle in Time. “Initially, meeting her was, like, mind-blowing,” she said. “But then to see her in character and to see how much love and passion she has for what she’s doing, it’s absolutely amazing. It’s kind of surreal every time seeing her on set. She’s just an amazing regular humble person. She doesn’t act like she’s ‘Oprah Winfrey.’”

Rob Reiner, who was honored with the inaugural Stanley Kramer Award for Social Justice, blasted President Donald Trump and his supporters as “racists.”

“This has become the last battle of the Civil War,” the LBJ director said. “We are fighting it right now, but we’re going to win. We’re going to win. We thought we were on this glide path but we’ve been dragged back, but we’re going to win.”

Hosted by Entertainment Tonight’s Nichelle Tuner at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood, the night also included appearances by Ava DuVernay, Keegan-Michael Key, Courtney B. Vance, Frances McDormand, Paula Patton, Mike Epps, Sherri Shepherd and Sheryl Lee Ralph, among others.

The full list of winners is below.

Best Picture: Get Out

Best Director: Jordan Peele, Get Out

Best Actor: Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Best Actress: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actor: Laurence Fishburne, Last Flag Flying

Best Supporting Actress: Tiffany Haddish, Girls Trip

Best Comedy: Girls Trip

Best Ensemble: Detroit

Best Independent: Crown Heights

Best Animated: Coco

Best Documentary: Step

Best Foreign: The Wound

Best Screenplay: Get Out

Best Song: "It Ain't Fair" by The Roots, Detroit

Best New Media: Mudbound

Best TV Comedy Series: Black-ish

Best TV Drama Series: Queen Sugar

Breakout: Lakeith Stanfield, Crown Heights

AAFCA TOP 10 FILMS OF 2017
Get Out
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Coco
Girls Trip
Detroit
Call Me by Your Name
The Shape of Water
Gook
Crown Heights
Marshall

AAFCA TOP 10 TV PROGRAMS OF 2017
Queen Sugar
Underground
Insecure
Master of None
Black-ish
The Handmaid's Tale
Dear White People
She's Gotta Have It
The Defiant Ones
Tie: Guerilla/Snowfall