To nail her introductory monologue as Nope’s high-energy horse trainer Emerald Haywood, Keke Palmer reportedly racked up dozens of “wildly different” takes, according to director Jordan Peele. The actor’s performance is receiving early universal acclaim as critical first impressions of Nope flood in.
In a new interview with IndieWire, Peele opens up about working with Palmer through the monologue and realizing her penchant for being “the best kind of overprepared.”
“Very early in the movie, when we meet Emerald, she comes in as this real breath of fresh air, in that she saves the day and injects this energy into this safety meeting that she is giving to this crew of a commercial,” Peele tells the outlet. “Keke came in and did, I don’t know, probably about 14 takes. Each one of them really very wildly different, uncuttably so. But just a tour [de] force, one of these things where you see somebody like, ‘I’m going to make this choice this time and go for it.’ There’s improv in there.”
Palmer herself says she recalls being very nervous for the monologue, which was filmed at the end of a long day of shooting.
“I just remember it was the last thing that we shot [that day], and we didn’t have a lot of time to get it and I was like, ‘I better be on point,’” she says.
The “tour de force” description from Peele seems to answer the question of whether or not Palmer met her own challenge. Whether it’s spelling “prestidigitation,” being the vice president of a company at just 15 years old, or running from a theme park alien invasion, leave it to Palmer to bring her all. Although the hype for Nope (and Palmer’s onscreen charisma) may be astronomical, Peele argues viewers should still expect to see their expectations exceeded.
“I would just say, everything you want Keke to be in your head, she’s better,” Peele gushes. “She’s that and more.”
Nope will hit theaters on Friday, July 22.