Get Out writer-director Jordan Peele has responded to comments Samuel L. Jackson has made about black British actors being cast in American roles, saying that he didn’t take offence to his opinions, and expressing disappointment at the media’s response.
Samuel L. Jackson’s Comments
Jackson was recently asked what he thought about Peele’s movie Get Out, which stars British actor Daniel Kaluuya as an African-American who experiences true horror while spending the weekend with his white girlfriend’s parents.
Speaking to New York radio station Hot 97, Jackson said: “I know the young brother who's in the movie, and he's British… I tend to wonder what would that movie have been with an American brother who really understands that.
"Daniel grew up in a country where they've been interracial dating for 100 years. There’s only about eight real white people left in Britain, the rest of them are mixed. What would a brother from America have made of that role?”
Jackson later clarified his remarks, telling the Associated Press that “It was not a slam against them [British actors], but it was just a comment about how Hollywood works in an interesting sort of way sometimes.”
The comments nevertheless stirred up something of a furore in the press, prompting Star War: The Force Awakens star John Boyega to Tweet the following…
Black brits vs African American. A stupid ass conflict we don't have time for.
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) March 8, 2017
Kaluuya meanwhile, did his best to diffuse the situation, telling GQ, when asked about the quotes, “Big up Samuel L. Jackson, because here's a guy who has broken down doors. He has done a lot so that we can do what we can do.”
Jordan Peele’s Response
Fandom therefore asked Peele what he thought about the controversy, and whether or not he felt it was weird that Jackson was using his film to make this point.
“No I didn't find it weird” came the response. “All I read was he asked a very good question to be honest, or made a ponderance: 'I wonder what it would have been like if there was an American actor in the role?' I didn't particularly take offence to that. And you know, the guy has worked for a long time, so I listen to his opinion. I think in this case it's clear, and he kind of I think acknowledged as well, that Daniel is such an amazing actor that there's no way that it's not a better film for having him in it.
“But, I actually thought about the exact same question. I think it's more interesting to me that, in a radio conversation, that the media will pick up a story like that and sort of pit black people against each other in a way that's instigating something that's not actually happening. But I've got nothing but love for Samuel L. Jackson - he was just asking a question.”
He followed that up by explaining why he chose to cast Kaluuya…
“What Daniel brings to the role is pretty evident - the guy's a true star” he explained. “Very early on I had a Skype conversation with him when he was interested. I was a huge fan of his from Black Mirror and Sicario. I think what Daniel has naturally is he's got a lot of the attributes we needed Chris to have. He's smart. He seems like the type of guy who is determined, and it's hard to get something past him.
"He's also familial and familiar and warm. He seems like a brother or somebody you know. And because of that he offers a very nice, emotional surrogate for the audience. But most of all, his acting ability is just... a special, special talent. The way he acts is so beautiful. He channels the emotional state and he's able to simply react in a scene, to a character. He's my favourite actor.”
Get Out is in cinemas now.