FROM STAGE PERFORMER TO ACTION STAR
By Lee Parham
Jordan Peele has made a shocking career transformation from sketch comedy to one of Hollywood’s most revered horror filmmakers.
After performing in comedy clubs in the early 2000s, Jordan Peele was noticed and added to the cast of the sketch comedy series Mad TV, based on Mad Magazine.
Peele spent 5 years on Mad TV in nearly 100 different episodes. He and future longtime partner Keegan-Michael Key met on the set and quickly developed on-screen chemistry.
Key and Peele would take their chemistry out of Mad TV and transform it into their own sketch comedy program for Comedy Central titled after its stars.
Key and Peele lasted for 5 seasons and quickly became a massive hit for many iconic sketches, including the East/West College Bowl, Continental Breakfast, and Substitute Teacher.
After the conclusion of their show, the duo’s talents would translate to Hollywood with their first screenplay in Keanu, a buddy comedy where they attempt to retrieve their stolen kitten from a gang.
While Key and Peele have collaborated together on many different television and film projects such as Fargo and Toy Story 4, Peele has gone on to have his own solo career in writing and directing.
Jordan’s writing and directing debut came in 2017 with Get Out, a low budget horror movie, diverging from his usual comedic exports. Peele credits his comedy experience as good practice for horror.
Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out
Get Out proved to be a massive surprise success for Peele, the film received rave reviews for its blending of genres, social commentary, originality, and fantastic performances.
Credit: Justin Lubin / Universal / Everett
While many analysts were skeptical of the film before release, the movie was also a tremendous box office success, turning it’s $5 million budget into nearly $300 million at the worldwide box office.
Get Out established Peele as a force to be reckoned with in the industry, earning him major awards acclaim including a win for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards.
After the immense triumph of Get Out, Peele was given more liberty and budget for his next film. This yielded the 2019 horror flick Us, starring Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke.
Lupita Nyong'o in Us
While Us didn’t receive the same awards recognition as Get Out, the movie set the record for the best opening ever by an original horror film and continued to cement Peele as a master of scary movies.
Peele took his talents to streaming television with a remake of The Twilight Zone, an modern reimagining anthology series of individual science fiction stories with crazy twists and turns.
Peele’s latest writing effort comes in the form of Candyman, a direct sequel to the 1992 film of the same name directed by Nia DaCosta starring Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in Candyman
Peele’s next film is slated to release in 2022. Tilted Nope, the horror film reunites Peele with his Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya along with Steven Yeun and Kiki Palmer.
Jordan Peele has expertly transformed himself from a sketch comedy artist into one of the most renowned horror directors of his generation through brilliant and bold filmmaking.