Daniel Kaluuya, the star of Jordan Peele’s social commentary and directorial debut Get Out, which has garnered four Oscars nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor, recently sat down with W to talk about the first album he ever bought, racism in America, and the reaction to his hit movie.
The British actor first landed a role in an American movie in Denis Villeneueve’s 2015 thriller Sicario, but it was Netflix and the streaming giant’s acquisition of Black Mirror that really thrust him into the limelight.
Now, a certified star on both sides of the Atlantic, he talked to W magazine’s Lynn Hirschberg about myriad of topics related to his life, work, and social issues.
We’ve rounded up the best bits from the interview. Check them out below.
On getting the Get Out part
Daniel Kaluuya / W
I did Black Mirror in 2011. It didn't really have any traction at home, and then Netflix happened. So Black Mirror hit Netflix like three or four years later, and then Jordan [Peele] saw me in Black Mirror, and he said "I've got this script." We Skyped, and then during the press for Sicario, I went to L.A.. I read it, and I got the part.
His first reaction to the script and watching the movie with an audience
"Are you allowed to do this?" That's what I first thought. "Are they really gonna let this black guy kill all these white people and everyone's just gonna be cool about it? All right, cool."
Opening night I went to Atlanta in the hood and I watched it, and it was amazing. It was amazing. It was one of the most amazing experiences 'cause Jordan had said on set. He would do a scene and he'd be like, "Oh, like they're gonna go 'Yo, get out, man. Get out, man, get out,'" and everyone was doing that in the cinema like to the T.
On staying in an American accent off screen
Yeah, people are weirded out. They're like, "Oh, you're British, man?" And I'm like "Yeah I am, mate." It's tough because I just stay in the accent. If I haven't got like family around or my girl around I just stay in the American accent, like going to Walmart and stay in American accent, and then when someone's figured out, they're flipping out.
On the difference between racism in the U.S. and in Britain
I feel like racism's more pronounced in America.
The disease is still there. It's the same disease, but it just manifests in a different way, and British culture's way more reserved, so it's more systematic. I think in America you have the systematic and then you have the overt, but also the history of America is the deal of race relations, whilst a lot of the people within London have come from—like, my family's from Uganda. They come from Africa, come from Caribbean. So they're coming from this culture, and they usually come from the Commonwealth, and have been colonized by the West. So we're navigating that, but youth... it's why a lot of black British artists are in America, because it's not seen in England, but it's felt, and it's oppressive, and it stops you from becoming your best you at times.
I think racism just sucks, isn't it, across the board. [Laughter.] Like no matter how it comes out, it's kinda f---in' shit.
On the first album he ever bought
So I got Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP. I used to listen to music while I was playing PlayStation, and then I went, "Ah, Eminem's amazing, yeah?" And then I was listening to it, and "Kim" came on. Must have been like 11. You remember the song "Kim"?
I was like, "I don't know about this, man. It's kinda scary, man," like, "What was he doing to her? I don't know about this." So I took it back and got Robbie Williams's Sing When You're Winning, and I was very much at ease. I just wanted to have good times. I just didn't need the darkness whilst I was playing FIFA '98.
Read the rest of the interview here.
Next, check out every single Oscars nominations here.