If you haven’t heard, Jordan Peele’s new film, Us, premiered at the SXSW Film Festival on Friday night. We liked it. A lot. Much of the movie’s appeal is connected to its core concept: a happy family is tormented by evil doppelgängers, mirror versions of themselves that want to wreak havoc.
When you first watch the film, you’re so caught up in the engaging mystery, the patented Peele humor and the genuine thrills of the scary story, that you may forget that these performers were pulling serious double duty. They had to play both the idyllic nuclear American family and their twisted inverses that arrive to ruin them. It’s an emotionally draining and physically taxing trick to pull it off. Yet stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke manage to do so with sheer force and breezy looseness, respectively. The pair discussed all that went into the duality required in a special live taping of BuzzFeed’s PROFILE at SXSW.
“The characters we play are distinct, and separate but also linked,” Nyong’o explained. “It was a challenge to sort it out in my head I’ve never done that. As an actor, you invest in one perspective, and you advocate for that perspective. Here you had to do that, then the next day be on the complete opposite of that perspective. I needed to have the laws of each character in my head and shortcuts for dialing into one and then the other. Often, it’d be interchangeable, playing one character one day and the next the other.”
Duke echoed her sentiment, saying: “I tended to stay in the character a lot, even in between takes and lunch I would stay Gabe. Lupita can attest to this, but she was sleeping I wasn’t. I was knocking on her door saying wanna get lunch, you look great today. I was always Gabe at all times. It also really helped that we could be Abraham and Red [Lupita & Winston’s doppelgangers in Us] together that was a beautiful experience. We could sit in a room in silence, staring at each other and creep everybody out.”
The engrossing finished product speaks to the work put in by both actors. You can catch it when Us hits theaters on March 22.