First-time filmmaker Jordan Peele will now have his name etched in the history books as the first African-American to win an Oscar for best original screenplay for his film "Get Out."
In his acceptance speech Sunday night, the writer-director thanked everyone for making the film the hit that it is today and admitted that he was once unsure about whether the movie would even get made.
"I stopped writing this movie about 20 times because I thought it was impossible. I thought it wasn't going to work," Peele said. "I thought no one would ever make this movie. I kept coming back to it because I knew if someone let me make this movie, people would hear it and people would see it."
Peele explains to W Magazine that the idea for the script came during the 2008 primaries when he was watching Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama compete for the Democratic nomination.
"It had me looking at race and gender in terms of one another," he said. "The way some of my favorite movies — "The Stepford Wives, "Rosemary's Baby"— had dealt with gender was inspiring to me, and I felt like it was time that there was a movie that dealt with race in a similar way."
He says he worked on the outline and story idea for about five years, around the same time his comedy series "Key and Peele" was airing on Comedy Central. During a meeting with Sean McKittrick at QC Entertainment in the summer of 2013 Peele mentioned the movie idea, but still with no intention of it getting picked up.
"I wasn't there to sell this movie, and I certainly wasn't thinking of directing it," he tells Deadline. "But I thought it was a great conversation starter. I said, 'Here's a movie I've never seen before, that no one is ever going to make.'"
After hearing the story idea McKittrick agreed to buy it on the spot. At the time, Peele said he hadn't even finished the script and had no idea who would direct it. But halfway through the writing process, he realized that no one could lead the film in the way it needed to be led but him.
"I can't trust this with anyone else," he tells Deadline. "I realized I knew what every moment looks and feels like, and that this movie had no wiggle room with tone or character. I went back to Sean and said, 'Look, I need to direct that.'
In late 2015 actors Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams signed on to star in the project.
Kaluuya, whose character Chris is at the center of the film as a black man who meets his white girlfriend's family for the first time, says that even he was surprised the film was getting made.
After reading the script, he tells Vulture that he asked Peele, "Are you allowed to say this? Are we gonna get in trouble?"
In February 2016 the cast and crew started shooting the film in Los Angeles before moving to Fairhope, Alabama shortly thereafter. They completed the film in 23 days on a $4.5 million budget. The film, which was released in February 2017, made $33.4 million opening weekend and solidified Peele as a director to watch, despite the "social horror-thriller" being the first film he directed.
Worldwide, "Get Out" has grossed more than $252 million, making it the most profitable movie of 2017.
The film has set Peele down a historic path not only as the first American-American to win an Academy Award for best original screenplay, but also as the third person in history to earn Oscar nominations for a directorial debut in the categories of best picture, directing and original screenplay.
Peele, who tweeted out a reaction to his win Sunday night, says the success of "Get Out" gave him the confidence he needed to continue directing films.
"I wrote 'Get Out' not necessarily as something to get made," he tells Entertainment Weekly. "I wrote it more as something that would be fun to write and something that would help me get better as an artist. So there was no deadline that I was giving myself. Now that I know that this kind of movie works, I can give it more purpose. Like, I know that I can get it made, so let's move forward with that goal in mind, instead of it being this ongoing project that who knows if anyone will ever see it."
While he's been silent on the details of his next film, he does plan to stay within the horror genre.
"I'm writing it now, an idea I've had for a while," he says. "I'm pretty obsessed with this social thriller/horror genre."
This is an update of a post that appeared previously.
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