Jordan Peele, after scoring a massive critical and financial hit with Get Out, has become a prolific producer of upcoming genre TV and film. The writer/director has countless projects coming from his Monkeypaw banner — some of which (his next movie, Us, for example) we know nothing about. One that we do know a bit about is his reboot of Rod Sterling’s seminal, twisty sci-fi show The Twilight Zone. And now we know a little more about Peele’s involvement with the resurrection.
Speaking to Variety, Peele first explained that he’s getting started with reverting genre back to its original role in film and TV: making a statement. “Get Out is the beginning of a movement of representation in genre of social relevance in fun movies — of elegant, artistic movies that also can have great box-office potential,” Peele said.
“It’s the same in television. I think people recognize that if you’re going to make something in this subgenre, we’re the experts.” Some of that is spilling over into Lovecraft Country, his upcoming show with J.J. Abrams, and some is being reserved for his work with Simon Kinberg on bringing The Twilight Zone to CBS All Access.
That show, which Peele cites as the one he was most reluctant to tackle, kept sucking him back in. “I was terrified,” Peele said. “Why would I ever jump into the most established, pristine shoes in all of the genre? I could rip Twilight Zone off and call it something different and not be compared to Rod Serling. So I stepped away from it. And then several months later I got another call.” In order to take the project, Peele needed to set some ground rules.
“The realization, for me, was that it was an opportunity to attempt to continue with Serling’s mission,” Peele said. “If we approach it without ego and sort of bow to Serling, that will hopefully suffice for our fellow Twilight Zone fans but also bring back a show that I think is needed right now. Because it’s a show that has always helped us look at ourselves, hold a mirror up to society.” Some of that bowing to Serling is yet to be determined -- does Peele take on the besuited role of the show’s narrator/presenter?
Peele’s still undecided on that front, but he has resisted the idea before. He confirmed that somebody will take on that role -- speaking to the audience before the stories kick into gear, setting the stage for the off-the-wall twists -- but he’s worried that if it’s him, people won’t be in the right mood. His is a face that audiences will immediately associate with comedy, especially on TV, where he acted in sketch shows Key & Peele and MADtv. Becoming the face of The Twilight Zone is no small task, though Peele may end up overcoming his trepidation and embracing his new position as harbinger of bold, exciting genre.