Nearly an SNL Cast Member
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Back in 2008, Peele was linked to the job of portraying Barack Obama on Saturday Night Live. It was during the Writers Guild of America strike, and Peele nearly jumped ship from Mad TV to SNL. In the end, Peele didn’t make the cut, and the role was awarded to Fred Armisen, and then later, Jay Pharoah.
The Mad Comedian
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After performing regularly at comedy shows throughout the country, Peele caught his first big break becoming a full-time cast member on the sketch comedy program Mad TV. This is where Peele would end up teaming up with fellow comedian and future partner-in-comedy, Keegan-Michael Key.
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The immensely successful Peele had plenty of road blocks to get where he is today. At a young age, Peele couldn’t manage to scavenge many roles as an actor. In an effort to pay the bills, Peele got his first ‘real’ job working in a toy store in Manhattan. The name of the store was The Enchanted Forest.
A Presidential Inspiration
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Many have linked Peele’s biracial relationship with current wife Chelsea Peretti as the guiding force in Get Out’s premise. However, Peele himself has said he wrote the script to his Award Winning thriller before the two even started dating. His original inspiration for the film came from observations he made during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Peele wanted to show how racism permeated through society despite the presence of an African-American president.
Steve Martin Lawrence
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Peele credits many comedic legends as influences for him growing up. The two most near and dear to his heart are Martin Lawrence and Steve Martin. Fans of Peele can see bits and pieces of the two intertwined within his work as a comedic actor.
An Unlikely Casting
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Despite playing mostly comedic roles throughout his career, Peele has made multiple appearances on FX’s crime drama, Fargo. Peele couldn’t believe he had gotten the role, and couldn’t understand why show creator Noah Hawley wanted him to be part of the series. Peele and Keegan-Michael Key played the role of FBI Agents, appearing in four total episodes.
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Like his co-star Keegan Michael-Key, Peele was born to a black father and white mother. Peele believes coming from a biracial household gives him a unique understanding of culture. It has shown through his work, and allows him to touch upon certain racial topics that many wouldn’t understand.
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Comedy and film-making aren’t the only pillars of entertainment Peele has excelled in. While working at Mad TV, Peele was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2008 for a song titled ‘Sad Fifty Cent’. In the track (written by Peele himself), Peele parodies the famous rapper, 50 Cent, and makes comedic jabs over his rivalry with fellow musician Kanye West.
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Peele’s first foray into the directorial world came with some raised eyebrows. Many were skeptical of a well-known comedian leading a movie that was presented as a horror flick. When the movie premiered, it came out to immense critical acclaim. Although it held a 100 percent on movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes for a short time, the title had to settle for a the 99 percent approval score it holds to this day.
The Ultimate Green Light
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Most newcomers in the directing field aren’t given much flexibility to work with in terms of budget and direction. However, with the impressive debut of Get Out, Peele was awarded free reign by Universal to do anything he pleased moving forward. Not a bad idea from the production company to give a talented director like Peele full creative freedom.
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Positive reviews from internet users weren’t the only praise Peele received for Get Out. The film grossed over $255 million on a $4.5 million budget (and it was filmed in just 23 days!) — making it one of the highest grossing horror films ever. Peele also received many accolades for his job — including winning the Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award and being nominated for four Academy Awards.
The Small Screen
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Film isn’t the only directorial endeavor Peele has conquered over the past few years. Peele is the co-creator for TBS’ The Last O.G., a comedy series about an ex-con who is released from prison, only to discover his hometown of Brooklyn has become gentrified. The show stars Tiffany Haddish — who has risen to near A-list celebrity status in recent years — and Tracy Morgan — starring in his first role since his car accident in 2014.
Peele the Puppeteer
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After graduating from high school, the New York native went to Sarah Lawrence College to further his education. While he was there, Peele decided to specialize in a rather odd major:
“When I went to college, I declared puppetry as a major — partly because I was obsessed with puppets, but also because I didn’t feel like I could fail at puppetry.”
Rookie of the Year
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Staying on the topic of Get Out, the choice Peele made for musical composition was certainly an interesting one. Michael Abels, a music teacher based in Santa Monica, earned the role for his bold takes on classical compositions. Peele had heard Abels’ work on the internet and sent him the script. Abels had never composed a score for a professionally-filmed motion picture prior to his work on Get Out.
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When Peele and now-wife Peretti were engaged after two years of dating, the duo teased a giant wedding through a series of advertisements. The couple filmed videos of them working out, deciding on a location, and preparing for the big day. It all ended up being a ruse, as the pair quietly eloped.
That’s What A Hamburger’s All About
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As it pertains to fast food, Peele cites In-N-Out as his favorite. He loves the signature “animal style” double-double cheeseburger, which includes two mustard-cooked patties, two slices of American cheese, thousand island dressing, pickles, and grilled onions.
A High-Profile Fan
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Actress Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Black Panther) had a rapid rise to stardom in the past decade. After Nyongo’o saw Peele’s Get Out, she loved it so much that she knew she had to work with the director. She can be seen as one of the leads in Peele’s new film, Us.
A Not-So-Shocking Opening
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Historically speaking, horror films don’t perform very well in the box office. Peele has attempted to rectify that with one box office hit after another. After the resounding success of Get Out, Peele followed it up with a record-setting performance from his new movie, Us, which made $70 million domestically in its opening weekend (the largest debut ever for an original horror film). Peele has cemented himself as a box office giant within a shaky genre.
More To Come
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Fans of Peele’s movies likely won’t have to wait long for his next project. According to an interview with Business Insider, Peele has already planned four more thrillers that he plans to get made within the next decade. That’s in addition to the two blockbusters — Get Out and Us — that have already hit theaters. Peele has a clear plan, and his future is as bright as any person in Hollywood today.