Brandon Perea is still pinching himself over the very idea of himself in Jordan Peele’s latest horror film, Nope. Perea plays Angel, the Fry’s employee who befriends siblings OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) as they embark on their mission to capture images of the U.F.O. that terrorizes their horse ranch.
“He’s heartbroken [from a recent breakup] and he’s kind of depressed and lost — looking for purpose. and he stumbles across these people that actually earn his respect,” Perea said of his character to The Nerds of Color. “He feels like he’s the smartest person in the room and he treats people as if they are beneath him originally. Then he figures out that they’re not biting what he’s giving, so he’s a little curious.”
Angel does play a huge part in the film — acting as the ‘tech guy’ for the adventure, as well as the alien theorist for the group. He mainly interacts with Emerald and credits the chemistry between the two to Palmer. The two provide some levity to the intense scenes with their light-hearted banter.
“She’s an incredible improvisation person,” said Perea. “I’m just very proud of the scenes that I have with Keke. I’m glad that we were able to bring some humor to some scary [shit]. There’s some stuff that goes down.”
Nope is the third horror film by Peele and centers around people of color being the leads in the story. Perea, who is mixed-Filipino and Puerto Rican, is most excited for fans to see the inclusivity of Nope. He never imagined himself being one of the leads in a horror film – which many people of color don’t get to see themselves in that type of genre.
He told us, “I feel very privileged to be in this position. I could have never imagined. I’ve watched Jordan Peele’s films and [have] been such a big fan but I truly never imagined myself being in one of the leading roles. I never imagined that ever in my life, so I’m just so grateful. I feel so blessed to be in this position. I’m so glad that [Peele] trusted me with the opportunity especially, I haven’t been granted the opportunity to really prove my ability in filmmaking yet and as an actor. I’m glad that he trusts me to be acting with these [acting] juggernauts.”
Perea still chokes up seeing the many Nope billboards and posters around Los Angeles that have individual images of Kaluuya, Palmer, Steven Yeun, and himself. He feels proud representing being part of a diverse cast and directed by Peele, who Perea says is “breaking barriers” in Hollywood.
“He’s going to showcase what Hollywood [and the world] has been missing out on for a long time,” Perea shared. “[It’s not] hammering down [about] skin color. It’s just [about] people [of color who] live in America handling this mission.”
Unlike Peele’s previous films Get Out and Us, which provides an obvious and direct interpretation of America, there are several messages that Peele is trying to convey in Nope. Perea gets different meanings from each viewing and plans to see it multiple times to find new context.
“I feel there’s no direct message,” Perea revealed. “There’s a million messages within this picture. I think Jordan did that on purpose to really allow people to absorb this film in different ways.”
Check out the full interview below: