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Us premiere: Jordan Peele explains why reality (not doppelgängers) is the scariest thing
It was another star-studded affair on the red carpet as Jordan Peele's sophomore feature Us had its New York premiere tonight ahead of its theatrical release this weekend. After being announced as the opening film of this year's SXSW, the release date was pushed back an extra week to build on the hype.
Starting things off, Peele explained that while Us is about doppelgängers, he wanted the film to be grounded in reality, because "reality is the scariest thing."
"A horror movie is only as scary as it feels real and grounded," Peele said. "That's why I like horror imagery as everyday objects and places. You feel like 'I could be there; I go to the beach.' There's a relatability to that."
Peele also said that he was trying very hard to come up with an idea to follow up his pivotal 2017 feature debut Get Out, but didn't have it until he thought about his own fear of doppelgängers, which is something he'd mentioned to us at SXSW.
"The moment that it clicked was [when I thought], 'What about a doppelgänger family?' My imagination started going crazy," Peele said. "I fell in love with the imagery, and that's when I knew I had something."
Nyong'o, who stars as the affable Adelaide Wilson, and her menacing counterpart, Red, confessed that she "would've been a tree in a film" that Peele was directing. After conversing with the filmmaker, she got what she calls "a better understanding of the themes he was working with, and the messages he was trying to relay," which is when she knew the film would be a contender for another cultural milestone.
"It's going to take you on a very special kind of special trip," Nyong'o teased, before cautioning, "If you have a weak heart, maybe ... hear about it first."
Duke plays both Gabe Lewis, who he describes as a "class clown," as well as his own doppelgänger, Abraham.
"My roles are letting them fully shaped by the landscapes they come from," said Duke. "Gabe is a product of privilege, Abraham is a product of a world with no proximity to privilege."
He went on to add that while his process "was really deeply reliant on the script, and really fleshing out the world Jordan created," he credits Peele with giving them the freedom to explore both their roles. "He didn't hire us as actors, he hired creators. People that were going to do the work."
You can catch our red carpet livestream replay above. Us opens in theaters this Friday.