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7 things we learned from the 'Nope' documentary
What we gleaned from the Blu-ray/4K exclusive documentary, Shadow: The Making of Nope.
Jordan Peele's latest film, Nope, is now available as a physical release on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD, and he's included a wealth of special features to better explore his sci-fi epic, including deleted scenes and two featurettes: Mystery Man of Muybridge and Call Him Jean Jacket. But, the must-see special feature comes on the Blu-ray and 4K Collector's Editions: An exclusive 56-minute documentary titled Shadow: The Making of Nope.
If you loved Nope, this is where Jordan Peele really walks the audience through many of the themes and inspirations that compelled him to tell this particular story. From the brilliant log line of "what if Close Encounters of the Third Kind became Jaws" to how he tackled the first scene of the movie, it's all covered inside the documentary. If you don't mind being spoiled, continue below for some of the most interesting things SYFY WIRE learned from the making of.
Gordy Came First
For myriad reasons, movie productions rarely shoot their scripts in order. But for Nope, Peele explains he wanted to kick off the shoot with the Gordy sitcom sequences because they were so integral to his vision of the movie's recurring themes. Both Gordy and Jean Jacket later on at Jupiter's Claim and at the Haywood Ranch are examples of wild animals who lash out and can't be corralled or domesticated by man.
Where the Crew Meets
When Emerald (Keke Palmer) and OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) roll up to the Fry's Electronics store to get their home surveillance equipment, Peele used the now-closed Burbank location of the electronics retailer. And, that particular store always featured a crashed UFO at its entrance which made it an even more perfect location for Nope. Inside, for the scene where the siblings first meet Angel Torres (Brandon Perea), that was actually the very first time the three actors met one another. Peele felt separating them until that moment would add to the natural energy of their introduction in the movie.
The Haywood Homestead Was Built from Scratch
The way the Haywood Homestead looks so natural tucked into the valley, it's not hard to believe that many viewers would assume it was an existing ranch in the actual Agua Dulce, California, location where it was shot. But that would be a big "nope," because production designer Ruth De Jong (Twin Peaks: The Return) and her team built the entire house from scratch. After Jean Jacket unloads its awful contents on the house, there are plenty of very specific visual Easter eggs left for audiences to spot like the electric scooter teetering on the roof which belonged to Jupe's (Steven Yeun) former co-star, Mary Jo Elliott (Sophia Coto).
Daniel Kaluuya: Cowboy in Training
Actor Daniel Kaluuya was born and still lives in London, so he admits his exposure to horses and horse riding was limited until Nope came along. Because OJ was raised on the ranch and is so close and in tune with their horses, the actor says he knew he would have to become incredibly comfortable around all of the horses used in the production. He had a month to learn horse riding inside and out, and figure out how to match his own energy to that of his equine co-stars.
Jupiter's Claim Has Its Own Currency
Jupiter's Claim is Ricky 'Jupe' Park's gold rush-themed theme park in Agua Dulce, California, and like the ranch, it is another bespoke creation of production designer Ruth De Jong and her large team of builders and set decorators. In the lore of the movie, Jupe, post-Gordy massacre, starred in the movie Kid Sheriff and it became his only box-office hit. Trying to hold onto that success, Jupe builds Jupiter's Claim as a 3/4 scale, exact replica of the town seen in Kid Sheriff. Visitors also have to start their experience mining for gold, which they can exchange for the town currency called Jupe Jangle. With that money, you can buy experiences or merch in the town. For those who find no gold, they get to wander around the theme park as an observer which is an intentional satire of the America Dream that Jupe is chasing so hard in his adulthood.
The Captain Ahab of the Desert
Let's be clear, Michael Wincott as Antlers Holst could have just been a kooky cinematographer in Nope and that would have been enough to be amazing. His styling of "The Purple People Eater" is legendary alone. But Peele crafted him to be the modern interpretation of novelist Herman Melville's obsessed Moby-Dick character, Captain Ahab. Both are relentless about capturing relentless creatures of lore who have become infamous for evading humans. And considering that Peele considers the film to be his mash-up of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jaws, we see some Quint (Robert Shaw) in there too.
The Skydancers Are Real
Audiences can get pretty jaded about what they see on the screen. In a world where VFX use is ubiquitous in everything from TV ads to live events, it's not surprising that many would assume the field of Skydancers that Emerald steals for their last act plan against Jean Jacket are just CGI creations to be controlled by an artist's pen and software. But that's not the case because the special effects team planted 65 real Skydancers in the Haywood Ranch valley that they operated entirely via remote control rigs. They also represent the lost souls of the exploited which ties them right into the film's overarching theme of humanity's obsession with spectacle.
Nope is now available on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD. It will be available to stream on Peacock on Nov. 18.