When Daniel Kaluuya read Jordan Peele's script for "Get Out," he had one question: "Are you allowed to make films like this?"
Peele proved that you are; Kaluuya, a 28-year-old British actor, landed the lead role. Ever since then, his life hasn't been the same. "Get Out" became a box-office sensation, a cultural landmark and an unlikely Oscar contender. Previously an up-and-coming actor with a few notable roles in film, theater and television, Kaluuya has been catapulted not just into awards season, but has since co-starred in two much anticipated films: Ryan Coogler's "Black Panther" and Steve McQueen's "Widows."
"It's been a life-changing year," Kaluuya, who was just nominated for a Golden Globe best actor trophy, said in a recent interview.
It started with "Get Out." Kaluuya anchors the thriller as the protagonist Chris Washington, a black man whose first visit to the family home of his white girlfriend (Allison Williams) becomes a terrifying descent into a racist reality seldom depicted on screen from a black perspective.
"I felt like this was going to make people really uncomfortable for the right reasons," said Kaluuya. "Racism is like a horror movie. Black kids die because of racism. I don't know what's more horrifying than that."
The decision to submit "Get Out" to the Golden Globes as a comedy, instead of a drama, caused a stir. Kaluuya shrugs his shoulders. "It's about issues that are not funny," he says.
What he does find genuinely hysterical though, is that "Get Out" has become a major awards contender despite having no initial aspirations to the Academy Awards whatsoever. It came out the same weekend as the last Oscars in February.
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"It's nice that it's breaking the rules in a sense," he says, "but I don't know why there were rules."
It's just one more example of the conversations kick-started by "Get Out."
"I go to music festivals and people want to talk to me about racism. I'm like: 'Bro, I'm trying to have fun!'" said Kaluuya, laughing. "But a lot of non-white men come up to me and say, 'I've been there in that house.'"