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90th Oscars Backstage Interview Transcript: WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

SPEECH BY: Jordan Peele


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Q. I want to know how it feels to be a part of one of the most memorable times for black film?
A. Oh, my God.  It's a Renaissance.  This is, you know, something that ‑‑ you know, I ‑‑ I ‑‑ I almost never became a director [sic] because there's such a shortage of role models.  We had Spike.  We had John Singleton.  We had the Peebleses.  We had the Hughes brothers.  But they felt like the exception to the rule.  I'm so proud to be a part of a time ‑‑ the beginning of a movement, where you ‑‑ where I feel like the best films in every genre are being brought to me by my fellow black directors.  It's very special, and I think that goes for all areas of inclusion, but it's quite clear with the work that Ava is doing, that Ryan is doing, F. Gary Gray, Barry, that this is a very special time.

Q. You mentioned the crew during your speech.  What do you ‑‑ what can you tell us about the below‑the‑line crew specifically on your film?
A. You know, it's such a scrappy group, and when I mean scrappy, we made this movie in 23 days, $4.5 million.  I had people that I shouldn't have been able to afford do this movie because they believed in it, and they put their trust in my vision.  My A.D., Gerard DiNardi, and his team worked miracles with the schedule we had and what we had to accomplish.  My wardrobe department, Nadine Haders, my costume designer, worked miracles with what she had to work with.  Toby Oliver and his department worked miracles.  Rusty Smith.  This is an independent film, and we ‑‑ we sweated for it.  So I'm ‑‑ I felt like I had the privilege of being a pirate captain with a swarthy group of real badasses.  And I love them, and I'll never forget a single one of them.  Thank you.

Q. As you continue to move forward telling stories about race and things that have affected us in our society, how important are Oscars and other awards, essential to you for validation or to continue to move forward?
A. Well, you know, I didn't know how important this was.  I always wanted this, but the campaign is growing, and there are times where I questioned what is it all about.  You're watching your own ‑‑ your last jump shot for a year, and as an artist that doesn't feel right.  It doesn't feel right to be complacent, and to feel like I've done anything too special to reward myself.  

When the nominations for this came together ‑‑ first of all, when the nominations came out, I had this amazing feeling of looking at the 12‑year‑old that had this burning in my guts for this type of validation, and I ‑‑ it instantly ‑‑ I instantly realized that an award like this is much bigger than me.  This is about paying it forward to the young people who might not believe that they could achieve the highest honor in whatever craft they want to push toward. 

You're not a failure if you don't get this, but I almost didn't do it, because I didn't believe that there was a place for me.  Whoopi Goldberg and her acceptance speech for best supporting actress for GHOST was a huge inspiration for me.  And when I got nominated, one of the first things I did was reach out and call her and thank her for telling young people who maybe doubted themselves if they can do it.  So I hope that this does the same and inspires more people to use their voices.

Q. This might sound counterintuitive, but did having a small budget give you freedom as a director?  If so, how?
A. You know what?  I don't know if I would describe it as freedom, but the ‑‑ in a way, the truth that I didn't have a lot to work with did set me free.  Very early on I had to face the facts.  I was not going to be able to get everything I wanted or felt like I needed for this project.  So I had to do like a Jedi mind trick on myself and say every obstacle that comes up ‑‑ because there's 40 a day ‑‑ every obstacle that comes up is a gift.  This is my improv training working.  Every time a brick wall gets put up, that is putting me in a position where I have an opportunity to make a stronger choice than I started with.  So this ‑‑ that as a gift, that knowledge, that wisdom of how to attack a film is a gift I'll take with me for every project for the rest of my life.

Q. When you ‑‑ going through this whole awards season I have to wonder, it's kind of crazy, it's kind of surreal.  Has it inspired you in any way?  Kicked up any stories in your head about maybe future stuff you want to do?  Inspiration that way?  
A. Yeah.  You know, I've often joked that if the ‑‑ if there is a GET OUT 2, it will take place at an awards show where, you know, it might look something like this.  I don't know.  No.  You know, I ‑‑ the ‑‑ what's been most beautiful part about this for me are all the full‑circle moments of meeting heroes.

Gary Oldman is coming out next, I believe.  He's been my favorite actor since BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA and TRUE ROMANCE.  I got to sit down with him outside, and we just talked about this experience, and we shot the shit.  And it's moments like that.  It's moments like getting to meet Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg.  I got to meet Francis Ford Coppola.  All my fellow nominees.  These are moments that are priceless.  Priceless, priceless, priceless.  And I'll take them with me forever.  And thank you guys.



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