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Jordan Peele looked to Tarantino and Shyamalan movies for ways to avoid the sophomore slump

Photo: Frederic J. Brown (Getty Images)

After the runaway success of Get Out, writer/director/producer Jordan Peele is now tasked not with proving a comedian can make a well-received horror movie, but with showing that his first hit wasn’t a one-time deal. Aside from signing on for roughly a bazillion other creative projects, Peele’s set to face down the dreaded sophomore slump very soon with Us, another thriller set to release this March.

In a profile by Rolling Stone’s Brian Hiatt, Peele discusses his long career, from making amateur movies as a teen and creating and starring in sketch series Key & Peele to becoming an Oscar-winning filmmaker. One particularly interesting point comes when the conversation turns to how Peele tackled the daunting task of following up a feature-length directorial debut as widely praised as Get Out.


Here, Peele says that “There was definitely fear of having to live up to a movie that worked so perfectly,” which inspired him to think about similarly poised follow-up movies made by “some of his favorite directors.” While the classic example of Quentin Tarantino making the wider-ranging Pulp Fiction after Reservoir Dogs is mentioned, Peele also, as the article puts it, found “particular inspiration in M. Night Shyamalan’s palette broadening between The Sixth Sense (technically not his first movie, but it might as well have been) and Unbreakable.”

The profile mentions, too, that Shyamalan even sent a note to Peele that urged him to “tell the story you want to tell” and “go back to what drove you to write the first one.” Rather than stick to what worked in Get Out, Peele took inspiration from “the old Twilight Zone episode ‘Mirror Image,’ which he saw as a kid” to try to make a movie that was more overtly horrifying than its predecessor, which he calls “kind of not a horror movie.”

The entire interview is filled with fascinating insight into Peele’s creative process and artistic background as well as discussions on the origins and cultural impact of Get Out. It also takes place while Peele is visiting Universal Studios Hollywood, drinking butterbeer, and going on the Harry Potter ride, so, if all the rest wasn’t enough, know that the story has that going for it, too.

[via Rolling Stone]

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.