The two covered a range of topics, from the softball stories, like the time when Jay-Z placated the writer-director's worries that he wouldn't be able to replicate Get Out's success (Jay told him, "It doesn't matter. You already did that."), all the way to the inspiration behind Peele's latest contribution to the horror genre — and the movie that everyone will soon be talking about — Us, born out of Peele's innermost fear of one day looking up and seeing himself staring back at him. "The idea of yourself giving you a knowing smile, sort of indicating, 'I'm the version that was ready for this.' There's something chilling about that," he said.
Exploring that fear led him to the idea that "collectively, we have a dark side," and in a time when the socio-political landscape seems to be revealing more of that dark side on the daily, Peele admitted that "it's not an accident that my fears were surrounding this sense of us as a collective," later stating, "However you define 'us', in order for you to have us, there's gotta be a them, and ... in its core what this movie is about is we will value our own, however we see it, more than we'll value the other."
The story's relevance to today is rooted by nods to the movies that made the horror genre what it is today, plus one very specific inspiration for the movie's main character, played by Lupita Nyong'o — Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley from sci-fi classic Alien. "I'd been telling her, look, this is gonna be a thing — you, going down to save your son, with a Spoiler Alert on your journey with your fire-poker weapon. It's like iconic, let's go, mom-power stuff that, you know, is so Ripley," he said.
And speaking of pop culture references, yes, Peele did address the prominent inclusion of a "Thriller" t-shirt. "[Michael Jackson] is a fascinating being," Peele said, pointing out that the film reflects the same duality that now plagues the late singer's career. "It sort of connected to me, in this Michael Jackson duality, that there's this great philanthropy with this underbelly of darkness that is kind of confusing in the type of nostalgia it gives me."
For all the details in between and more, watch The Big Picture above.