Nope Scene-Stealer Brandon Perea Says Jordan Peele Rewrote the Character Around Him

All praises to our frosted-tipped, emo tech guy sidekick.

Daniel Kaluuya Brandon Perea and Keke Palmer in Nope.

Daniel Kaluuya, Brandon Perea, and Keke Palmer in Nope.Courtesy of Universal Pictures

The big stars of Jordan Peele’s third feature film, Nope, are Daniel Kaluuya and an electric Keke Palmer, playing the horse-wrangling siblings O.J. and Emerald who discover an extraterrestrial threat lurking around their ranch. But it’s the newcomer Brandon Perea who steals every scene as the frosted-tipped electronics retailer tech guy, Angel Torres. Inserting himself into the family’s quest to catch the mysterious predator in the sky, Angel is curious, insecure, slightly emo after being dumped by his girlfriend, and ultimately, hilarious.

Perea had never worked on a project on Nope’s scale. His biggest previous role was on Netflix’s canceled cult sci-fi series The OA, playing Alfonso “French” Sosa, an all-star athlete struggling with his home life. “I wouldn’t be able to do Nope without The OA,” Perea says. “I feel like I needed that to shape me as an actor and to really give me experience of working on a set and working with creators as well.” Perea spoke to GQ about how Jordan Peele modified the script based on Perea’s audition, the many layers to Angel, and why the actor is ready for a Marvel movie.

GQ: Jordan Peele said that your audition changed his vision for Angel, and he gave him a different personality. Could you tell me a little bit more about that?

Brandon Perea: Originally the character was supposed to be a quirky, nerdy type of character, like, “Hey yeah, I can help you guys fix things and I’m clutch and I’ll do it.” I just didn’t relate to that because I grew up going to tech stores with my brothers all the time, and usually when I’d see the employees there, they were not happy-go-lucky—they’re more depressed and not wanting to be at work. So I brought this sad tone to it and that made Jordan laugh a lot. It brought this different edge to the character and brought it to a more grounded place.

Is there anything that you found particularly unique about Jordan Peele’s directing?

I noticed how collaborative he is and I was honestly surprised about that because his films are so detailed. He’s basically a sculptor with a little hammer, just tinkering every detail. It just seems like that’s how he would work, but he’s very free-flowing and very collaborative. And instead of pointing and telling you what to do, he’ll ask you, “What do you think? What are your ideas? What do you have?” And if you have any confusion, he’ll guide you along and navigate you to try to get you to a place where you’re both at an understanding, but he’s always asking me how we feel and “What do you think?” And if you have any ideas, pitch them, try things. And I just didn’t expect that from someone whose films are so just very detailed.

Brandon Perea and Daniel Kaluuya in Nope.Courtesy of Universal via Everett Collection

They’re very intentional films. That’s not that surprising because he comes from a comedy background, which is very collaborative. You basically got the role because of his collaborative nature.

Yeah, it was just crazy when I was on the audition call and he was just like, “Yeah, in order to fit your character in, man I’d have to rewrite my entire script.” And I was just like, “Oof.” Then he said, “You know what? That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to rewrite my script. You got the job.” And then just tears.

You’re extremely funny in this movie and you have this incredible chemistry with Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya that builds throughout the film. Was that chemistry pretty natural for all of you?

.It’s funny, the first scene where we meet in the film [in the fictional Fry’s electronics store] was the first scene that we all shot together, and that was my first time meeting them both. They already had scenes together. They already seemed like brother and sister and they were bonding and having a good time. I remember I was just behind the register, like, “Dang, that looks like so much fun. I want to be having fun with them.” But I was like, “Just hold it together. You’re going to keep this scene how it is, because you’re meeting them as strangers in real life while doing this scene as well. So just keep it how it is.” Once we wrapped, I had to go up to them. I was like, “Guys, yo, I’m cool. I promise, man, what’s up? My name is Brandon. I’m sorry. I just didn’t want to meet y’all before the scene and stuff.” They were very kind and just started attacking me with high-fives and hugs. From that moment on we all just bonded so well.

Angel is one of the few characters in the film whose motivations are pure. What do you think was driving Angel to help Em and OJ?

He was losing purpose because he was just bored at his job. He was a failure at that point, where he was just living every day kind of lost. He’s just going to that job because he has nothing else to do. He needs the money to pay rent but there’s just no purpose. He gave his all and devoted all of his time to his girlfriend that dumped him. So it’s just this lost kid. He needed companionship and purpose, and he found it with these two mysterious people that walk into his store.

One thing I loved about Nope is that it’s a very, very fun movie, but it’s also really challenging, with some really complex themes that stick in your head. What has stuck with you most?

People trying to tame predators. The idea of not taking your eyes off the spectacle, people literally putting their lives on the line to capture spectacle. That’s something that I feel like is in our day to day, our eyes just glued to any type of thing that wants attention. And when we uncontrollably give it that attention, it’s just so dangerous. That stuck with me. And also seeing how people deal with trauma while all having the same goal in mind. There’s a million messages in the film too, a million metaphors. There’s no right answer, either. I think there’s a million answers. So it’s really cool to see everyone else’s interpretations of it as well.

Brandon Perea attends the Nope premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Monday, July 18, 2022Courtesy of Ben Shmikler via ABImages/Getty

I just went to a 2pm screening and the theater was filled with entire families with all their kids and I was thinking, “This is the same audience for a Marvel movie.”

Wow, wow. That’s what Jordan did. Jordan made a horror movie for everyone this time, that everyone can watch.

I’ve seen on your Twitter that you really want to be in a Marvel movie, and you’re in the midst of manifesting that for yourself online. Why do you want to play a Marvel hero?

I just think I have all the tools to add to that universe. Does the Marvel cinematic universe necessarily need me or anyone? No, they are massive. They could do anything they want in this world. But do I have faith that I can really add to that world a lot? Yes. Because I’ve been training my whole life doing gymnastics, tricking, flipping, break dancing, combat sports, like boxing, martial art, BMX skateboarding. I’m always active. I’m always doing something with my body that’s like my instrument. Now with Nope, I hope I delivered a performance where I can prove that I can do something great in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I have a few characters in mind, but I’d like to see what fans come up with as well. The ultimate goal is always to work with great creators, great directors, and just to be a part of great stories, but one of the things I want to notch down is just being in the MCU. I think I could add so much.

Pop Culture

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Game of Thrones’ Sean Bean Receives Heat After Intimacy Coordinator Comments
These American Horror Story Stars Are Returning For Season 11
Raymond Briggs, Author of THE SNOWMAN, Dies at 88
David Nigel Lloyd’s “Of Service in Rosemary Lane” 
Jon Hamm Joins The Morning Show Cast For Season 3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.