Filmmaker Jordan Peele was pleasantly surprised at the response of his movie Us at the SXSW festival on Friday in Austin, Tex.
The Academy Award winning director’s Us, starring Lupita N’yongo and Winston Duke has been buzzing since he dropped a trailer for his follow up to 2017’s Get Out. But now the new film is already invoking water-cooler conversations and self-examinations about the themes behind a family that seems to be under threat from its apparent doppelgängers.
“I’m looking out on a sea of faces going, ‘Da f—?’ ” Peele said in front of approximately 1,200 attendees, The Undefeated reports.
During a Q&A at the festival, Peele made it clear that his intent was to invoke larger conversations.
“My favorite thing is the idea that people will leave ready to have a conversation with whoever they’re with. This is a film that I designed. I have a very clear meaning and commentary I’m trying to strike with this film, but I also wanted to design a film that’s very personal,” he said.
Peele won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay last year for Get Out, the first African American to do so. The film dealt with race and how hidden motivations can drive racism. But this time, he said, he wanted a different perspective on how people view themselves.
“… This movie is about this country. When I decided to write this movie, I was stricken by the fact that we are in a time where we fear the other, whether it is the mysterious invader that we think is going to come and kill us or take our jobs, or the faction that we don’t live near that voted a different way than us,” he explained. “We’re all out pointing the finger, and I wanted to suggest that the monster we really need to look at, maybe the evil, is us.”
“People love when you treat them like they’re as smart as they are,” Peele said. “I think, far too often, I see movies that presume an audience is dumb. I wanted to presume an audience has the tools to find these things and find these connections and then talk about it and find greater meaning and deeper meaning, and then come back and watch it again.”
Although Us is his idea, there were times during filming that even he was frightened.
“On the days when they played the red family, it was a different vibe, Lupita scared the s— outta me!” Peele admitted.
Us hits theaters March 22.