On Nov. 13, Brandon Perea will receive the rising star award for film at the Critics Choice Association’s Celebration of Latino Cinema & Television — but, thanks to his recent starring role as Angel Torres in the UFO horror flick Nope, he already feels like he’s won the lottery. Here, Perea talks to THR about his career bucket list and red-hot year.
Which moment of your career felt like your big break?
I had a really good feeling after my role in The OA. I was a series regular on a Netflix show, and it helped me out in a lot of ways. But doing a Jordan Peele movie was a miracle job.
Before booking Nopewhat did you have on your career bucket list?
It’s actually a crazy story. I had a meeting with my agent and he asked what my dream job was — I said a big studio movie, something like Universal Studios, and with an Oscar-nominated director. Something that can be seen by a lot of people and maybe be in awards contention. Now that it happened, it’s better than I was imagining.
What do you remember most about the audition process?
I got an email saying there was an opening on an untitled Jordan Peele project, and I assumed it was going to be a day-player role. I put myself on tape and decided to play the character in a more angsty way. Angel was originally written as a nicer dude, but I wanted to stand out — and I know the employees at tech stores are angry because they’re smarter than all the customers. (Laughs.)
How did that go over?
Well, I got a callback, and then was invited to do an improv session on Zoom with Jordan — I get on the call and he’s like, “So with the character you brought me, I’m going to have to rewrite the script to make it work.” I thought, “Oh God, I’m never getting this job, but I’m just glad to be able to get in front of Jordan Peele.” But then he said, “You got the part, I’m going to rewrite it.” I started crying and giving him my whole spiel about how all the up-and-down emotions of trying to make it in Hollywood were worth it now. And then he started crying, too.
With Nopewhat markers of success are most important to you?
One of the great things about the film, for me, was having all these leads with different ethnic backgrounds. To have two black leads in a UFO story, and Steven Yeun playing a cowboy — when have we ever seen something like that? For myself, being Puerto Rican and Filipino, it took me a while to see the impact of my representation. I’m an actor, I just wanted a job. But after the posters first came out, I started having people reaching out to say, “Wow, someone who looks like me is in a Jordan Peele movie.”
Do you feel pressure now that people are looking to you to represent them?
I realize that I’m in a place of massive privilege, and I have to handle my journey with grace. I need to move with purpose, because anything I do is far bigger than me. I want to continue to move the needle to tell great stories with diverse leads the way Jordan did.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in the Nov. 9 issue of The News84Media magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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