- The film “Us,” left a lot of people with questions.
- We broke down some of the behind-the-scenes secrets of the film
- This post contains spoilers for the movie “Us.”
Jordan Peele’s new horror film “Us” has everyone talking and if you’ve seen the film, it probably left you with some questions.
Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Evan Alex, “Us” follows a family (the Wilsons) on vacation in Santa Cruz. While there, the Wilsons are confronted by a family of doppelgängers and have to escape them and own their past to survive.
There are many forums and Twitter threads devoted to theories and questions surrounding the film, but for the most part, Peele is leaving things up for interpretation. We can’t fill in every blank for you just yet, but here are some of the Easter eggs, inspirations, and interesting behind-the-scenes facts about “Us.”
Warning, some spoilers ahead.
Jordan Peele’s fear of doppelgängers inspired the premise.
During the press tour for the film, Peele often said that as a kid in New York City, he would imagine that he had a double.
“I always had this vision of seeing myself across the subway platform,” he told Seth Meyers on the Late Show, “and just kind of thought, if that’s not creepy enough, what if the other you sort of smiled at you. The idea of a doppelganger family was like ‘OK,’ my imagination went crazy, and out came this film.”
(Bonus fact: he is also afraid of rabbits, which make an appearance in the movie).
One major Easter egg is in the very opening scene.
Young Adelaide (Madison Curry) is introduced in 1986 sitting alone on the couch watching a “Hands Across America” commercial on television. Next to the TV are a few VHS tapes including one for the 1984 horror film “C.H.U.D.,” which is about humanoid monsters responsible for the disappearance of mostly people experiencing homelessness living underground.
If you’ve seen both films, you’ll know just how much C.H.U.D seems to have influenced Peele’s “Us.”
Jordan Peele may have a cameo in the film … sort of.
While filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock and now M. Night Shyamalan are notorious for appearing on camera in many of their films, Peele seems to have opted for a more subtle cameo trend.
In “Get Out,” he provided the sound of a deer dying in the woods, and in a recent interview with Fandango, the director revealed that he added to his dying animal vocal credits by channeling his inner rabbit.
There is a chance that the comedian was only joking, but he seemed genuine in his confession and hilarious demonstration.
He was also a stand-in for the actors.
One struggle that Nyong’o and the other actors in the film had during the film was acting opposite no one, as they played their own doppelgangers. There were body doubles there to give them something to look at, but they didn’t have the energy of scene partners to bounce off of.
To help with this, Winston Duke revealed to Rotten Tomatoes that Peele would mimic the actors’ line delivery, movements, and mannerisms from the day before, so it was like they were speaking and reacting to themselves.
Nyong’o’s tethered voice is inspired by a real medical disorder.
In a red carpet interview with Variety, Nyong’o shared that to prepare for the creepier half of her dual roles, she worked with a doctor, a vocal therapist, and a dialect coach to develop a speech pattern similar to that of someone diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia.
Also known as laryngeal dystonia, the disorder causes spasms in the throat muscles which results in vocal distortion. Nyong’o said that her performance is not a direct copy of the real disorder, but that she did study it while fleshing out who the character is and how she speaks.
Steven Spielberg is partially to thank for the unsettling score.
The music for “Us” was composed by Michael Abels, whose first time scoring a film was for Peele’s “Get Out.” According to NPR, Peele was already planning on working with Abels again, but it became mandatory to him when Steven Spielberg suggested it.
The legendary director compared Abels and Peele’s collaboration to his own relationship with John Williams.
The haunting main theme is just gibberish.
Abels’ score kicks in early in the film with a track titled “Anthem” that features a choir chanting. While in “Get Out,” the opening chants were warnings in Swahili, that is not the case for Us.
“It’s a nonsense language, I made up the syllables,” Abels told NPR.
There’s a connection to ‘The Shining.’
The presence of creepy twins in “Us” is considered by some to be a nod to Stephen King’s source material (famously adapted by Stanley Kubrick in 1980), but there is another less-obvious connection that most people will miss.
Variety confirmed that Jack Nicholson’s grandson, Duke Nicholson, made his acting debut as a minor character is “Us.” Jack, of course, played Jack Torrance in Kubrick’s film. If you check the credits for Peele’s film you’ll find the younger Nicholson credited as Danny/Tony, which are the names of Jack Torrance’s son and his imaginary friend. Some fashion savvy horror fans also noticed that Peele has been dressing like Torrance during recent interviews.
Nyong’o was just as scary on set as she was in the film.
On the days when she played Red, Nyong’o’s co-stars say that she would transform.
“She really kinda spooked me out a little bit,” Shahadi Wright Joseph told BuzzFeed News. “She would really get into character and wouldn’t talk. It was kind of creepy.”
When she did speak, Peele said that she would stare and use the character’s voice.
The leather glove is more than just a glove.
The “Tethered” versions of the characters all wear a single leather driving glove on one hand in the film. In an interview with BBC Radio 1, Peele revealed that not only is a single glove scary, but it also relates to three pop culture figures of the ’80s: Michael Jackson, Freddy Krueger, and O.J. Simpson.
He also acknowleged that it makes for a quick and easy Halloween costume.
Just like the Sunken Place, the underground world in ‘Us’ has a name.
It is never mentioned in the film, but Jordan Peele says that he created the entire mythology of “Us” and its underground mirror world, which he calls “The Underpass.”
“I don’t tell you how large and how expansive it is – and in my mind, it is quite large and expansive,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “I won’t give the borders, but there are … means down there.”
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