Jordan Peele's Inspiration For Us Came From His Own Fear Of Doppelgängers

Us poster of Lupita Nyong'o as Adelaide Wilson and evil doppelganger Red
(Image credit: (Universal))

The most terrifying entries into the horror genre are the ones that address our own deepest fears, and Jordan Peele’s second film Us looks to be explore a common anxiety with the tagline “we are our own worst enemy”. What’s more spine-chilling then the idea that we are the villain holding ourselves back from greatness or tearing ourselves down?

While it’s unclear just how Us will tackle this fear and will likely be open to interpretation, repeated viewings and ongoing discussions, Jordan Peele recently revealed how he originally had the idea for his latest movie. In his words:

I’ve been terrified of the idea of doppelgangers since I was a kid. I always had this vision of seeing myself across the subway platform.

Looks like Jordan Peele was inspired by his own fear of doppelgangers for Us. During his visit to Late Night With Seth Meyers, he said he imagined the figure on the other side giving a creepy smile in his direction and decided to go from there. Once he had the idea for a doppelganger family, Peele explained his imagination went crazy and out came Us.

The filmmaker then talked about the challenges that came with directing the family of four as both the typical vacationing bunch introduced in the beginning, with their villainous counterparts who will terrorize and invade their home in Us in the relentlessly-bloody thriller. It was both logistically tough and made for an interesting dynamic on set. Here’s what he said:

Very difficult as it turns out. On the days where the actors are the family, it’s fun and light and when they come in as the scary versions, you just feel the crew and everyone’s ass drops out from under them.

Lupita Nyong’o in particular became a terrifying player on set as she would stay in character as her doppleganger, even when requesting Chex Mix to the director. The actress is both the main protagonist and villain on Us, and assumes a quite creepy voice as the horrifying doppelganger.

You can watch more of Jordan Peele’s interview with Seth Meyers below:

Us comes two years after Get Out, Peele’s directorial debut, which redefined the genre as it touched on socio-political horrors and earned Peele an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. When Us premiered at SXSW, it earned highly positive reactions from audiences who have called it “terrifying”, “unnerving” and Peele “our modern day Hitchcock” (the filmmaker is also reviving The Twilight Zone on CBS All Access come April 1).

The movie also has a near-perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes of 98% ahead of its release this Friday, March 22. Anyone else both incredibly excited and frightened to witness the upcoming Jordan Peele project?

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.