Jordan Peele takes extraordinary 180 in career

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Noah Dawley, Staff Writer

I think it’s safe to say that writer/director Jordan Peele has done everything, from starring in the wildly successful comedy sketch comedy show Key and Peele, to directing the critically-acclaimed, horror films Get Out and Us. But what happened leading up to this extraordinary 180 in his career?

Peele was born and raised in New York. He began studying at Sarah Lawrence College, majoring in puppetry. After Peele graduated in 2001, he decided to give comedy a shot. One year later, he moved to Amsterdam and became a member of the improv theater group Boom Chicago. Here, Peele met his long-time friend and fellow comedian, Keegan Michael Key, eventually launching the start of his most successful project, Key & Peele.

The next chunk of Peele’s life basically defined his career. Key & Peele Season one premiered on January 31, 2012, on Comedy Central. The show quickly built a huge following of fans. Each episode depicted five or six quick sketches, all of which starred Key and Peele in different weird and outlandish scenarios.  

A lot of fans crown the third season as the peak of Key & Peele. By that point, they had already snagged their spot in pop culture media with each episode that aired on Comedy Central pushing them further and further into the spotlight. The last few seasons began to cement Peele’s spot as a comedian, which brings us to season five.

By this point, if you walk up to anyone and ask who Jordan Peele is, nine times out of ten they would say, “Oh that one comedian from Key & Peele.” With the duo only getting larger, both Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele realized that if they wanted to do anything else creatively, the show would have to come to an end. Finally, in 2015, they announced that season five would be the show’s last, ending their three-year run. This might have seemed like the end of the road for Peele, but it was really just the start. 

All of his life, Peele had been a huge fan of the horror genre as a whole, so when he was given the chance to meet up with long-time Hollywood producer, Sean McKittrick, he took advantage of the opportunity. Back in 2013, Key introduced Peele to McKittrick saying “You gotta meet Jordan. He’s a horror fanatic, and he has all these ideas.” This eventually led to McKittrick meeting Peele for coffee. Peele reportedly pitched him an entire plot for a movie. This led to McKittrick buying the pitch and paying Peele to write the script. Two months later, Peele had finished the script for his directorial debut, Get Out.

As far as a debut for a film, Peele definitely had an insane start to his career. Get Out was released on February 24, 2017, to outstanding reviews. The movie was an absolute hit amongst critics, earning a 98% score on one of the most respected review sites, Rotten Tomatoes. It’s also widely respected among film fans for its extremely meaningful writing and beautiful cinematography. The most impressive aspect of Get Out has to be what it did with its budget. Get Out only had a budget of 4.5 million dollars, but it still was able to accomplish so much with this.

The success of his debut definitely kick started his next few projects. After winning an Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay” in 2018, as well as being nominated for two other Oscars, this really defined him as more than just a comedian. Hollywood finally saw him as a legitimate director. This catapulted him to writing and directing Us in 2019 and writing the screenplay for Candyman in 2021. Both of these were extremely well received in their own aspects. These three Peele movies were able to pull in a combined $588 million in the box office, on just a $49.5 million budget. It’s also noteworthy to include his work on both seasons of the 2019-2020 Twilight Zone reboot.

With all that Peele has accomplished since Key and Peele, you might think that he left Key behind through all of this. This is not the case. The duo has remained good friends since their show ended in 2015. They both starred in the 2016 film Keanu as well as made appearances together in 2019’s Toy Story 4. Most notably though, they are both voicing characters in the upcoming stop-motion, dark, comedy film, Wendell and Wild, coming to Netflix sometime this year.

Now, what does the future hold in store for Peele? Nowadays he is finally getting the recognition he deserves within the film industry, getting the chance to tell the stories he’s always wanted to on the big screen. This is pending the release of his next film Nope coming to theaters July 22. Nope is his biggest production yet, which brings back the leading stars from Get Out and Us. It’s safe to say that the future is bright for him as he continues to prove to audiences why he’s one of Hollywood’s best new directors.