Why Brandon Perea Made Jordan Peele Cry During His ‘Nope’ Auditions
On Nov. 13, Brandon Perea will receive the rising star award for film at the Critics Choice Association‘s Celebration of Latino Cinema & Television — but, thanks to his recent starring role as Angel Torres in the UFO horror flick Nope, he already feels like he’s won the lottery. Perea speaks to here about his career goals and a particularly hot year.
What moment in your career felt like your big break, and why?
After my role in The OA , I felt a great feeling. It was a great experience to be a regular series regular on a Netflix series. It was a miracle job to do a Jordan Peele film.
Before booking Nope, what did you have on your career bucket list?
It’s a wild story. My agent asked me what my dream job was. I replied that it was a big studio movie like Universal Studios and with an Oscar-nominated director. It should be easily accessible and be in contention for awards. It’s more than I imagined.
What do you remember about the auditioning process?
I received an email stating that there was a position on a Jordan Peele project. I assumed it would be a day-player job. I decided to play the role in a more angsty manner and put myself on tape. Angel was originally meant to be a nicer guy, but I wanted Angel to be more outlandish. I know that tech store employees are mad because they are smarter than the customers. (Laughs. )
How did that happen?
I got a callback and was invited to do an improv workshop on Zoom with Jordan. I got on the call and he said, “So with your character brought me, I’m going have to rewrite that script to make it work.” I began to cry and gave him my whole story about how all the ups and down emotions of trying to make it big in Hollywood were worth it now. He started to cry, too.
With Nope, what markers of success are most important to you?
The film’s diversity of ethnic backgrounds was one of its greatest strengths. It was amazing to see two Black leads in a UFO story and Steven Yeun as a cowboy. My representation was difficult for me, as a Puerto Rican and Filipino. I am an actor. I just wanted a job. After the posters were first released, people started reaching out to me to say, “Wow! Someone who looks like I is in a Jordan Peele film.”
Do you feel under pressure now that people look to you to represent their interests?
I am aware that I am in a position of immense privilege and must handle my journey with grace. Because I am far more than what I do, I must move with purpose. I want to keep moving the needle in telling great stories using diverse leads, just like Jordan did.
Interview edited to increase clarity and length.
This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter magazine’s Nov. 9 issue. Click here to subscribe.
I have been writing professionally for over 20 years and have a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional elements that affect people. I’m an experienced ghostwriter and editor, as well as an award-winning author of five novels.