Actor and comedian Lil Rel Howery co-stars in ‘Get Out,’ which hits theaters this Friday.
‘Get Out’ is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut. What was it like working the first-time director?
LRH: Jordan is amazing to work with. It’s almost like you didn’t know he was a first time director to be honest with you. You know, directors that act and perform also, they just have a different vibe when it comes to directing. They’re a little more open to the choices you make as far as acting and everything. It’s a lot more freedom—along with writing great material; man, he wrote some great material. All I did was bring whatever I’m good at doing.
Was there any room for improvisation in the script?
LRH: Definitely, you know. Every time we laughed, he kept it—I was just talking crazy. Which is why I love Jordan, he recognized what looks real, and that’s what he wanted the character to give off. So anything I said that just sounded really natural is what stayed in the film.
How, if at all, does your on-stage persona differ from your real life persona?
LRH: It’s actually who I am—I’m a very blunt, real guy. I compare myself to Larry David’s character on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ I’m that guy in real life; I can’t not say something. That’s where the character from ‘Get Out’ relates to me and my standup. I’m going to give it to you straight.
Can you tell me about a favorite moment on set?
LRH: My favorite moment is a conversation that me and Alison had over the phone, cause when we shot it she was actually in the room with me—it was her day off too. She’s like, “Rel, do you want me to come in and do my part?” She came and did it and it made it so much—you could tell the difference when you watch the film, it’s really natural; it’s really intense because she was actually sitting in the room. What I love about the cast, all of us, we really loved the script. At the time when the movie was first presented to me and a bunch of us, it was that big of a deal—it was more of a passion project. The one time you make a good decision about doing something your passionate about, it ends up being really dope [laughs].
Why were you so passionate about it? What sets ‘Get Out’ apart from other horror movies?
LRH: I thought the script was dope, I mean I’ve never seen a story like this. And for it to be a horror film too, you know, being about a black man not dying first? I thought it was interesting to see a black male hero lead. I’ve never seen nothing like that. And to think this hilarious guy wrote this—which he was working on eight years ago—it’s insane.
The film deals with race in a powerful way that really hasn’t been done before in horror. How does it reflect the “African-American experience”?
LRH: Racism is really scary, right? This horror film is just based on racism. Jordan had this genius way of doing it. I’ve been in situations like this before where [laughs] I’ve been around way to many white people and I get nervous, and as much as people don’t want to talk about that, it’s an experience that an African American goes through. This film touches on that, and puts it under a microscope.
Do you have a newfound respect for the TSA after your roll in the film?
LRH: I do actually, which is very interesting. I was at the airport yesterday, and I was just looking at them like, “Y’all got a tough job.” When we think about what they have to deal with everyday—TSA agents are so important. I don’t think we give them enough credit.
Seeing as this movie centers on meeting your significant other’s parents, what was it like meeting your in-laws?
LRH: It’s a different dynamic. First of all, meeting your in-laws is already tough in general—white, black, whatever. When you meet other people’s family, and they’re already trying to figure you out, judge you, or even trying to make you comfortable—it’s a very uncomfortable thing, the first time. Especially me being a comedian, everybody wants me to be funny. And then if you ain’t as funny as they expect…?
Do you have any upcoming projects?
LRH: ‘Carmichael Show’ season three, we’re working on it now. We should have an air date soon. I believe it’s coming back sometime this summer. But I’m very excited; we’re like five episodes in already. It’s an amazing show, and between this and the movie—and I’m on this history channel special with Kevin Hart, which is dope also—I just keep going, I’m just working.
Photo courtesy of BET