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SYFY WIRE Daniel Kaluuya

Daniel Kaluuya on rejecting the pressure of 'Nope' and the new dystopian film he co-wrote

The Oscar-winner teases his new genre film, and his next steps.

By Matthew Jackson
Daniel Kaluuya in Nope (2022)

Nope is one of the most-anticipated genre films of the summer for many reasons, but one of the most obvious is the reunion it offers between star Daniel Kaluuya and writer/director Jordan Peele. Their collaboration on Get Out five years ago put them both on the map, Kaluuya as an actor and Peele as a genre auteur previously known for his comedy work, and now they're both Oscar winners with established careers outside of each other's influence. 

For Kaluuya, Nope comes at a time when he's still riding high from his 2021 Oscar win for Judas and the Black Messiah, a victory he's used to transition into more projects as a writer and a producer. For the moment, though, the world's focus is on his second film with Peele, in which Kaluuya plays the son of a horse rancher who teams up with his sister (Keke Palmer) to try and document an apparent UFO that keeps visiting the family property. It's the biggest film Peele's made yet, and audiences everywhere are expecting something stunning, so how does Kaluuya deal with that? 

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actor said that he just doesn't. 

“I don’t take the pressure," Kaluuya said. "I like accomplishing the goals that we’ve set. It was more [about] working with Jordan. Coming back and doing this with him. We had a lot of conversations building up to the shoot, and when I got to the set, I was like, ‘Oh s***, this is a f***ing action film. Holy s***.’ The most daring thing to do is go for it, [so] let’s do Bruce Willis then. Let’s go for this s***. I really care about original films and original content, and to even be making a film like this with Keke Palmer as a lead, me as a lead, Jordan as a director on this level of budget and it be original — it’s so important that this film connects.”

With Nope set to make its way out into the world, Kaluuya is looking ahead to his next projects, which include work as writer and producer under his own 59% Productions banner. Among those projects is The Kitchen, a dystopian film set in London in the year 2044, co-written by Kaluuya and directed by his longtime friend and creative partner Kibwe Tavares. In the imagined future of The Kitchen, inspired by Kaluuya's observations about his own changing London neighborhood, public housing is a thing of the past in the city, with the exception of the title neighborhood, a lone holdout in a metropolis where the working class have essentially been banished to live on the fringes. In that tumultuous environment, the film will follow residents of The Kitchen as they try to survive an unjust world. 

“We worked our f***ing asses off in London," Kaluuya said of the film. "It’s going to change the game, I genuinely believe that,”

The Kitchen is set to arrive on Netflix some time next year. For now, Kaluuya is looking back on the past five years of his life and work, in the wake of Get Out's success and everything that followed. He sees it as the conclusion of something, and the period following Nope's impending release as the "end of the chapter" of his life and work. 

"Get Out happened and it’s just been nonstop," Kaluuya said. "Even though I don’t feel like I’ve been projecting that. But it has been nonstop in terms of the amount of films I’ve done, the amount of press I’ve done, and all the writing and producing I’ve done underneath. It’s just been consistently on the go, and I feel like you have to rethink certain things. This is the point where I rethink certain things. What makes me happy? What’s exciting? What excites me? What will excite the audience? And it could be the same trajectory that I’m on, but I’ve got to make sure it’s that.” 

Nope is in theaters July 22.