“Get Out” writer-director Jordan Peele admitted that he wasn’t fully prepared for the emotional impact of the comedy-horror movie — even as he was shooting it.
“I would get to this point of crying and I would have a catharsis,” Peele said at Saturday’s Meet the Nominees panel at the at the Directors Guild of America Theater in Los Angeles before a capacity crowd of more than 500 people.
Peele said that as a first-time director, he felt it was crucial for him to find the emotional truth of the scene. “If their performance wasn’t getting there, it’s because I wasn’t getting there,” he noted.
“I came about this project in a very mischievous away,” Peele added. “It was about being provocative and doing what you’re not supposed to do and scaring the s— out of people, but as I got farther into it, the reality of what it was really about hit me in several stages: what happens to the victims of racial violence and the victims of a self-imposed psychological chamber.”
Peele was joined at the event by other nominees for the DGA feature film award — Guillermo del Toro for “The Shape of Water,” Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird,” Martin McDonaugh for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and Christopher Nolan for “Dunkirk.” Peele is also nominated for the DGA’s first-time director award.
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The winners will be announced Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton at the 70th Annual DGA Awards. Jeremy Kagan, who moderated, noted that it was first time that all five nominees were also the writers on their films. The three-hour discussion focused on the intricacies of casting, rehearsals, music and where the director is during the shoot.
Del Toro lavished credit on his cast, noting that his casting process focuses on whether the actor can provide the emotional core a film needs. “A really great actor can be wrong for a part,” he added.
Del Toro recalled that a key scene in which Sally Hawkins hits Richard Jenkins was the result of him not telling Jenkins that she was going to do so after the first two takes had fallen flat. “That’s why he sounds so surprised when he says ‘You hit me,'” he added.
Del Toro also told the audience that the unforseen is a constant during a shoot, and added, “The more you prepare, the more the accident will be benign.”