Jordan Peele became a household name thanks to his five-season run on the Emmy-winning sketch show Key & Peele. But, because he played so many characters, people mostly recognize him as President Barack Obama, L’Carpetron Dookmarriot, and a Liam Neesons-loving hotel valet; the real Jordan Peele is still a bit of a mystery.
That’s the best compliment you can pay a sketch comedy performer, and for Peele, the need to be other people ran much deeper.
“I went into sketch and improv, I think, because I was unclear what I could offer the world that would be understood or accepted,” Peele says in a new interview that will be featured on Sunday in AMC’s Talking With Chris Hardwick. “So being in character was much more comfortable for me.”
Peele learned a lot about himself during the execution of the show, which helped when it was time to direct Get Out, the smash hit horror-satire that he put out earlier this year.
“It helped me evolve as an artist, and by the time I was directing this movie, I feel like I was very clear with the vision of the movie,” he says. “To me, the way to direct is to have fun with people, and help them have fun.”
For Peele, that was second nature, and employing his Obama impression made the task pretty easy — plus, no one’s going to question a guy who sounds just like the revered former president.
Peele’s episode of Talking With Chris Hardwick airs Sunday, May 14, at 11 p.m. Eastern.