Since Daniel Kaluuya’s breakout role in 2018’s “Get Out,” he has won an Oscar, a BAFTA, Golden Globe, and SAG awards, plus been nominated for an Emmy.
But Kaluuya now admits that he was on the verge of quitting acting altogether if it had not been for “Get Out” writer-director Jordan Peele. In a new joint interview with Essence, Kaluuya told Peele for the first time that after starring in the 2011 “Fifteen Million Merits” episode of “Black Mirror” he had trouble landing other parts.
“I’ve never told you this, but when you reached out to me and we had that Skype, I was really disillusioned with acting,” Kaluuya said. “I had stopped acting for like a year and a half. I checked out, because I was just like, this isn’t working. I wasn’t getting roles, because racism and all this kind of stuff — so you reaching out was like, ‘Okay, I’m not crazy. It’s proper. It’s going to be all right.'”
Kaluuya and Peele reunite in the upcoming ET spectacle film “Nope,” in theaters July 22. Yet Kaluuya still credits “Get Out” as his “first lead role ever” and what led to an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Kaluuya later won in the Best Supporting Actor category for 2021’s “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
Peele explained that Kaluuya’s performance in “Black Mirror” was an “undeniable audition” for “Get Out” and proved Kaluuya was a “tour de force.”
“I knew that as a performer you embodied the spectrum of somebody who could play small and subtle. Someone we would root for, but who also had an explosive side and an ability to access certain deranged elements in your psychology,” Peele praised Kaluuya. “I already knew I wanted you for the film — but you blew me away in the audition, and now here we are.”
Peele added, “It’s wild because even while making a movie in 2016, we were looking for a lead Black actor and realized there’s not a lot who have been given opportunities to be the lead of a film. I was just so thrilled to realize what the rest of the world considers a very small pool. I had at least one of the best actors I’d ever seen in my movie, and from the very beginning I was like, this is how — when you have a script that’s good, and you get an actor like this, who has done work but has untapped potential and an untapped trust put into him — you get something special.”