News & Opinion | March 11, 2019 10:24 am

“Us” & Them: Jordan Peele on Creepy Inspiration for “Get Out” Follow-Up

The director use to spot his doppelgänger at college.

Jordan Peele is finally giving viewers some behind-the-scenes info about the hit film
Jordan Peele is finally giving viewers some behind-the-scenes info about the hit film

Oscar-winning writer/director/producer Jordan Peele said that the inspiration for his latest thriller, Us, came in part from his school days when he’d take the train back and forth between New York City and Sarah Lawrence College.

Each time, he said during a group interview in Austin alongside his two leads, Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke, he’d spot a new doppelgänger.

“It was one of these nightmarish things, that creepy feeling of, I’ve got to get out of here because I don’t know what is coming,” Peele revealed to Vanity Fair.

Jordan peele us
Director Jordan Peele is interviewed live on stage during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festival. (Jim Bennett/WireImage)
Jim Bennett/WireImage

The classic paranormal series, the Twilight Zone, which Peele recently rebooted for CBS All Access, also played in heavy rotation in his home growing up. But one 1960 episode titled Mirror Image stuck out to him in particular.

He’s never been able to rid himself of the primal fear its duplicate-driven plot line instilled, which made him wonder: why is this sort of terror so visceral? When it comes to sameness, what are we so afraid of?

“It led me to this thing that we don’t look at ourselves,” Peele said. “It’s too hard for us to look at ourselves, both as individuals and as a group.”

And that’s the basis for his new film, Us.

The movie that terrified Austin audiences at its world premiere Friday night centers on the Wilson family and their ill-fated beach vacation to a Santa Cruz — community that was the site of a childhood trauma for Adelaide (Nyong’o). That incident comes back to haunt her and her family when a group of four seemingly identical duplicates of her brood shows up in their driveway.

Also, Peel just really wanted to give an African American family a beach vacation in a movie.

“I want to see a black family on the beach, goddamnit!” he quipped. “I want to see a black family buy a boat. That happens. And we’ve never seen it.”