How Jordan Peele Completely Changed One Nope Character Following One Star's Audition

When an actor is in an audition, a part of the challenge is not only giving an authentic performance, but making certain choices that one thinks will distinctly appeal to the filmmakers conducting the casting. But while logic dictates that the greatest amount of success would result from choices that line up with what a director already has in mind for a character, that’s evidently not what happened with Brandon Perea and Jordan Peele’s Nope. As it turns out, Perea had a totally different take on the role of Angel than what Peele initially had in mind writing the script – and it wowed Peele to the point that he re-wrote the role incorporating the actor’s take.

I learned about this cool behind-the-scenes story when I interviewed Brandon Perea during the Nope press day in Los Angeles. I asked the actor about how his character evolved from what was originally on the page to what we see in the finished cut, and he explained that Jordan Peele intended Angel (previously named Artie) to be more of an enthusiastic nerd before he came along. Said Perea,

The first thing that he wrote... And I just found this out yesterday, I didn't really know the details of Angel because it was pretty simplified. It used to be named Artie, and he was just a kid that was clutch, something like that. And he worked at a retail store. So I just saw that, and then it just seemed like kid was kind of happy-go-lucky. And I found out he was very nerdy – like very like super nerdy in the sense of like 'quirky nerdy,' of like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm a tech whiz.'

In Nope, Brandon Perea’s Angel is a retail clerk at the Fry’s Electronics store in Burbank, California, and while he definitely knows his way around the equipment that he sells, he is certainly not passionate about the work. When Daniel Kaluuya’s OJ and Keke Palmer’s Emerald first meet him, hoping to purchase an advanced security camera system, he most definitely sees their presence as being more of a pain in the ass than any kind of call to adventure.

This was evidently the take on the character that Brandon Perea brought into his audition for Nope, and it’s because he felt it was the most authentic version of the personality. Obviously minimum wage clerks who love their job exist, but the global population of those individuals is dwarfed by the number of people who are counting down the minutes until they can clock out. Perea continued,

I just found that out yesterday, funny enough, but I just never saw it that way when I initially got the script – or the sides, actually. I just thought about it. I brought it to a real place. Jordan's very good at keeping his films grounded and you just think those humans are alive on Earth. So usually when I walk into a retail store, no one wants to be there. No one is really happy to be there. They're kind of just like, 'Yep, what do you need? All right, cool. Scan that. Great. Alright, you need something else. Cool. Do it.'

While the majority of actors in the Nope audition probably played the character as Jordan Peele originally thought it should be played, Brandon Perea apparently surprised the writer/director with his take:

I kind of just went into it with that intention, where I'm like, 'This is kind of the feel that I get,' and he thought that was so funny – this dude who's over it. That made him laugh quite a bit. I'm so glad that I entered it with that, and I just wanted to attack it differently than I feel like others would.

It’s a win in all respects, as not only did Brandon Perea land the role of Angel Torres in Nope, but he is one of the many terrific highlights in the critically-acclaimed third film from Jordan Peele. To use Daniel Kaluuya’s words, it’s pretty special.

Nope – which features a stellar cast including Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott, Steven Yeun, and Keith David, is now playing in theaters everywhere, and it had an excellent opening weekend at the box office. If you’ve already seen the film, you can dig into the mystery of the UFO with our Ending Explained feature.

To learn about all of the big films on the horizon, head over to our 2022 Movie Release Calendar.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.