At this point in Jordan Peele’s career, Daniel Kaluuya’s bulging eyes brimming with tears is an image as synonymous with Peele’s work as Meegan. With Get Out a certified meta-horror classic and Nope gearing up to be one of the biggest releases of the summer, Kaluuya and Peele make a formidable creative team. But as Kaluuya reveals to Peele in a new interview between the two for Essence, he almost stopped acting before pursuing his Get Out role after experiencing racist treatment.
“I was really disillusioned with acting. I had stopped acting for like a year and a half. I checked out, because I was just like, this isn’t working,” Kaluuya tells Peele. “I wasn’t getting roles, because racism and all this kind of stuff—so you reaching out was like, Okay, I’m not crazy. It’s proper. It’s going to be all right.”
Since then, Kaluuya has found him catapulted to the apex of prestige Hollywood, nabbing roles in films like Judas and the Black Messiah and Marvel’s Black Panther. Unfortunately for the W’kabi stans out there, however, Kaluuya recently confirmed the Nope filming schedule prevented him from reprising his role in the sequel, despite previous rumors he would.
Although Kaluuya has many more major roles in his artillery these days than he did as a green British actor starring in the 2011 Black Mirror episode “Fifteen Million Merits,” the size of the part isn’t what matters to him. Even Peele lauds Kaluuya’s role choices as “wise”— the director reminds Kaluuya that “Fifteen Million Merits” was the performance that initially caught Peele’s eye when he was casting Get Out.
“I want to go into places that I don’t know I can. I want three-dimensional characters. I want to tell the story, no matter how big or how small,” Kaluuya says. In Widows, I’m not in the film that much, but my character had an arc—he had a story and an evolution. As long as that’s there, then I can engage with it.”