10 Actors to Watch: Daniel Kaluuya Goes From ‘Get Out’ to ‘Black Panther’

Daniel Kaluuya is one of Variety‘s 10 Actors to Watch for 2017. For the full list, click here.

British actor Kaluuya says he knew almost instantly after reading “Get Out” that Jordan Peele’s social commentary masked as a horror film would “shake things up.”

“In the original ending, basically he kills everybody,” Kaluuya says of his lead character, Chris, whose girlfriend (Allison Williams) has ulterior motives when she takes him to meet her family. “I knew then that this is going to be a thing.”

Kaluuya, whose credits also include TV’s “Black Mirror” and “Skins,” says he knew Peele’s work with Keegan-Michael Key in Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” and that he has a habit of creating works  that “really resonate with the public consciousness.” He remembers returning to London after “Get Out” was released and walking down Warren Street while on the phone when a black woman suddenly “looked at me, hugged me and then walked away.” This would not be the last time such an event would occur.

And while Samuel L. Jackson famously pondered whether a Brit could really understand the plight of African-American men, Kaluuya argues that this film has a trans-Atlantic impact. “I think we are not our nationalities, we are individuals and his story truly resonated to me and I put forth my interpretation and it was on Jordan to see if it resonated with him,” Kaluuya says.

He will soon be seen in “Black Panther,” Ryan Coogler’s comic adaptation that will be the first in the genre to have a black lead (Chadwick Boseman). Is Kaluuya actively seeking socially conscious work? “I want to do stuff that’s real,” he says. “I always feel like there’s a reaction, I call it a hum, when I find stuff that’s connected with me. Twenty million people can watch your stuff, but it can fail to have that hum. And that hum is reflective of what’s happening or it’s articulating an experience that everyone sees, but no one is highlighting.”

Influences: Bernie Mac, Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Daniel Day-Lewis, Toby Kebbell, Jason Watkins, Jack O’Connell
Representation: Agency: Troika; Manager: Management 360

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