It’s a big deal to be a director of the moment, the kind of filmmaker who grabs the zeitgeist and has people anxiously awaiting news of their next project. It’s another thing entirely to be that person after one feature film. But that’s the distinction held by Jordan Peele, who just a couple if years ago was primarily known as the “Peele” of Comedy Central’s beloved sketch series Key & Peele. Now, fresh off the historic, Oscar-winning success of his feature-film debut, Get Out, Peele is a filmmaker whose name generates headlines in and of itself. And when he tweets an update on something, culture as a whole loses its mind to the tune of 70,000-plus retweets.
This is a vague announcement for Peele’s latest directorial project: a “new nightmare” called Us, which is reportedly close to casting actors Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, and Elisabeth Moss. Details for Us are sparse, but the film is slated for release in March 2019 and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, will “center on two couples, one white, one black.” While the casting isn’t official yet—Nyong’o is currently in negotiations, per the Reporter—Peele could be set up with Moss and Nyong’o, two of the finest actresses working today, and a burgeoning star in Duke, fresh off the success of playing M’Baku in Black Panther.
Still, perhaps the most enticing part about Us is that it’s another joint from Peele, who’s using his moment in the cultural spotlight to foster more original ideas and maintain his momentum as one of the most in-demand creators of the industry. It’s no easy feat: Original concepts getting this much hype is increasingly rare in Hollywood, where the buzziest news tends to center on superhero installments, sequels, and franchise reboots. The list of current directors who draw this kind of hype for new projects not based on preexisting work might begin and end with Christopher Nolan and Jordan Peele. But originality happens to be a consistent through line for Peele; it’s a defining characteristic of most of his upcoming projects.
While Peele’s keeping one foot in the comedy world by cocreating and producing Tracy Morgan’s new TBS comedy, The Last O.G., the rest of his forthcoming projects lean more toward the “social-thriller” genre that he excelled at with Get Out. First, there’s Lovecraft Country, a forthcoming HBO series, in which Peele serves as an executive producer. Based on the 2016 novel from Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country follows Atticus Black (to be played by Hostiles’ Jonathan Majors) on a journey across America at the height of Jim Crow to find his missing father, dealing with terrors both familiar (white people) and supernatural (a Lovecraftian monster). While some executive-producer credits are merely token stamps to give a project added hype, Peele was the one who initially brought the project to J.J. Abrams’s Bad Robot Productions, according to Deadline. His involvement is legit.
In a similar vein, Peele is executing producing The Hunt, which is, in simple terms, about [extreme Brad Pitt Inglourious Basterds voice] huntin’ Nazis. The premise is loosely based on actual Americans who hunted Nazis in the ’70s, and while the project doesn’t have a network attached, The Hollywood Reporter notes that “several potential bidders” have expressed interest. The Hunt seems likely to find a home—even more so with Peele’s name attached to it.
And while Peele isn’t exempt from the Hollywood rebooting craze, the noteworthy IP attached to his name is a worthy extension of the social commentary he conveyed with Get Out and, to a lesser extent, Key & Peele. Retooling The Twilight Zone as an executive producer for CBS All Access and giving the series a modern spin is what will probably, finally convince thousands of people to fork over the CBS streamer’s subscription fee. Because on top of the exciting prospect of Peele doing The Twilight Zone, a true match made in heaven, it’s also not hard to imagine A-listers appearing on the series. The Twilight Zone is traditionally an anthology series that tells a new tale each week, meaning there’s a smaller commitment for actors. In the original series, Rod Serling snagged the likes of peak Burt Reynolds and Robert Redford. Imagine Michael B. Jordan, Viola Davis, or Leonardo DiCaprio (he’s a fan!) showing up for a week and immediately drawing Big Little Lies–level of Emmys consideration.
The one, still-glaring omission from Peele’s growing résumé is a rite of passage for young, up-and-coming directors: the big-budget blockbuster. Ryan Coogler made Black Panther; Taika Waititi made a splash with Thor: Ragnarok; in 2019, the indie duo of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck will release Captain Marvel. As of now Peele doesn’t have any attachments to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or anything of that scale. There were rumblings that Peele could finally be the director to push the Warner Bros. live-action remake of the acclaimed anime Akira over the hump, but he explained, “At the end of the day, I want to do original stuff.”
I would give up a kidney to see Peele adapt Akira, but avoiding the project gives him the time and creative license to tackle complex social issues on the big screen that other auteurs aren’t. That begins with Us next March, and a slew of small-screen projects—from the currently airing Last O.G. to forthcoming works like Lovecraft Country and The Twilight Zone—that are embedded with Peele’s DNA. His slate is undeniably appetizing—as varied as it is intriguing and a strong signal that he’s using Get Out’s rapturous praise to pursue original projects that will be must-watches in the years to come. Get ready for the coming decade of Jordan Peele: his solitary Oscar and Emmy could have a lot more company in no time.