Get Out producer Sean McKittrick revealed he originally wanted writer-director Jordan Peele to play TSA Agent Rod in the film, but Peele pushed back. It's been nearly 11 months since the mystery thriller Get Out debuted in theaters to critical acclaim and became a blockbuster hit with audiences to the tune of $254.6 million at the worldwide box office.
Lucky for the film, awards voters, impressed by Peele's sharp take on race issues in the U.S., haven't forgotten the film after its February 2017 release, and have made it a major contender this awards season, thanks to notices from the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards the Golden Globes, Director’s Guild of America Awards and the Producers Guild of America Awards. Now, with Get Out on the verge of scoring big nominations when the nods for the 90th annual Academy Awards are announced Tuesday morning, one of the film's producers is talking about his failed effort to get Peele in front of the camera.
According to IndieWire, Sean McKittrick tried his best to convince Peele to play TSA Agent Rod in Get Out, a role that eventually went to Lil Rel Howery. TSA Agent Rod is a pivotal character in the film, since Rod warns Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) of some sinister goings-on at the home of Chris' girlfriend's parents. At a panel in conjunction with the PGA Awards Saturday, McKittrick said of Peele, “We tried to force him — not force him, but we tried to encourage him to play the part of Rod that was ultimately played by Lil Rel.”
Peele wasn't having anything of the idea, however, mainly because he was afraid audiences wouldn't be able to separate the character from his comedy past, including multiple sketches opposite Keegan-Michael Key on their hit Comedy Central sketch show Key and Peele. At the panel event, McKittrick recalled his conversation with Peele about playing TSA Agent Rod:
"'(Peele said), ‘The moment the audience sees my face, they’re not going to take [the film] seriously,' He knew from the get-go how to keep the tone, which was very thin-ice throughout, it could veer off at any moment.”
As it turns out, Peele was right. True, his name no doubt lent some credibility going in as the writer and director of Get Out, but the success of Rod rested on the shoulders of Howrey, who audiences didn't have any preconceived notions about. And while Howrey had some funny moments as Rod, audiences clearly didn't identify him as a comedy actor trying to pull off a serious role, as they likely would have done with Peele.
Ultimately, by refusing to act in the film, Peele has liberated himself from doing any future work in front of the camera. Following the financial and awards success of Get Out, Peele says he is done with acting, and will instead dedicate his career to filmmaking. By holding his ground and refusing to act, not only did Peele realize his vision for Get Out, he carved out a career path that probably few people expected him to embark upon.