Don’t expect to see Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt star in a Jordan Peele film anytime soon. The comedian-writer-director extraordinaire recently spoke to a group at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre stating:
“I don’t see myself casting a white dude as the lead in my movie. Not that I don’t like white dudes, but I’ve seen that movie.”
Peele’s films Get Out and Us have grossed over $30 million and $65 million in their respective opening weekends and have catapulted Peele into stardom among fans and Hollywood executives. The films are acclaimed masterworks of horror, but it’s Peele’s casting of diverse actors that adds life to his thrilling plots. It’s refreshing to see Black actors starring in leading roles for the mainstream movie consumer. In fact, Peele’s approach to filmmaking serves as an equitable way to try and balance the number of minority lead roles created in Hollywood.
Ultimately, directors (some) and producers are the omnipotent creatures that decide who will be a film’s lead actor, and most of the time a WASPY sort of guy is at the helm. Even screenwriters’ preferences can often be vetoed for an option who carries more selling power. But, with an artist like Peele, who is in command of the writing, directing, and production of his films, it will be interesting to see if his recent statement receives any pushback from the Hollywood headhonchos.
What would be even more equitable is if Peele casts other actors from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds for future roles. How about an Indian leading actor or a Colombian leading actress? Peele is certainly beginning to open the floodgates for his peers of color.