“By the way, I would have voted for Obama for a third term if I could.” It’s one of the deftest pieces of instant characterization in recent movie history, establishing exactly what sort of white family Get Out’s black protagonist, Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris, is about to be spending his weekend with, and what kind of “liberal” his new girlfriend’s dad, Dean, really is. Bradley Whitford delivers his ostensibly supportive message with the maximum amount of smug charm, too, speaking with the absolute conviction of a man who thinks he’s making the ultimate gesture of colorblind racial equality.
Possibly, it turns out, because Whitford was being completely sincere. In a recent GQ profile—digging into his recent embrace of roles, like Get Out and The Handmaid’s Tale, where he plays people conscious (for good or ill) of the privilege they hold over others—the West Wing actor reveals he thought the exchange was serious, at least at first: “Yeah, what’s really funny to me is—I worked on his campaigns. I love Obama,” he told interviewer Joshua Rivera, artist gamely imitating art. “I didn’t even know that was a joke. I don’t know, but I probably said it to Jordan [Peele], without realizing that it’s the whitest thing a person could say.”
Whitford doesn’t make it clear when he realized the joke, or whether Peele really did pull the exchange from their own conversations. The actor is known for his outspoken political views; besides starring for nearly a decade on NBC’s long-running presidential fan fiction series, he’s also been a vocal critic of Donald Trump, lending his star power to a variety of liberal causes. He’s also pretty clearly self-aware about the irony of not “getting” the line, and thus outing himself as one of the target’s of Peele’s pointed, often-terrifying satire; whether that makes Get Out more or less terrifying for you remains an exercise we’ll leave for the reader to decide.