"Get Out" star Daniel Kaluuya was elated and bursting with infectious energy Tuesday after learning of his Oscar nomination for actor in a leading role and the movie's nods for director, original screenplay and best picture.
"I know you've got to be professional but this is funny, you have to enjoy it with me!" the Brit exclaimed to the Times. "Like, joyous vibrations."
The recognition, he said, is an achievement like a master's degree: "You've given your flippin' all to something and someone says, 'Well done.' Especially coming from where I'm from. This is mental."
To skirt the anxiety-inducing ordeal of Tuesday morning's announcement, he had a plan to sleep through the nominations — until he woke up early from nerves and got a call with the good news.
Later, he heard that Tiffany Haddish severely botched the pronunciation of his last name while presenting his category."If there's one person that can mispronounce my name, it's the genius that is Tiffany," he laughed. "It's Tiffany Haddish, man!
But the reasons why the searing "Get Out" has resonated so strongly all year are no laughing matter.
"It's not jokes for us," he said of the film, which nabbed landmark nods for writer-director-producer Jordan Peele and landed the 28-year-old Kaluuya his first nomination. "This is real pain. We didn't even understand it so we had to communicate it in some sort of way by telling a story. This is real, and we gave everything."
How happy were you that writer-director Jordan Peele received so many nominations?
I'm so happy for Jordan, man. It's a team effort. I spoke to [producer] Sean McKittrick this morning, and it's a team effort; we did this together. It was a 23-day shoot and Jordan was the captain, but everyone had to collectively give their all for this film to get made and to get over the finish line. So I'm happy for everybody. It's just a moment that will never happen again, I think, in our lives. It's unexpected. (Pauses) And everyone did it because we just believed in the script. We just got it.
Were you watching the nominations announcement this morning and aware that Tiffany Haddish mispronounced your name?
Tiffany Haddish is East African, so it's even funnier – if there's one person that should know how to say it! But I feel so honored. If there's one person that can mispronounce my name, it's the genius that is Tiffany. It's Tiffany Haddish, man!
And a true genius at that: One new expression she coined while announcing your nomination was "Kalleluuya," which honestly seems pretty perfect.
I haven't watched it yet but you know, it is. I went to an all-boys Catholic school and when we had mass, literally everyone would sing my […] last name: "Kallelu-uuya."
It would have been hard to predict on paper that "Get Out" would follow the path it did in the past year, especially being a socially minded horror film, Jordan being a first-time director…
There are no rules! There are just no rules! We did what we want, and that's what I love about this movie — there's no rules! Who made these rules? Who made them? Why did they make them, and where did they come from? (Laughs) That's the most heartwarming thing about this.
Jordan described his call with you this morning as an overwhelmingly emotional one for him.
(Laughs) It was great. It's his heart, man. Yeah, ["Get Out"] is genre, but the big thing we're tapping into in terms of being black — this ain't jokes. We're giving our all, and then having to talk about it all day …. I called him and he was crying and I was like, "You did the work, Jordan — you did the work and you deserve this." This is real.
Over the course of the last year, from the film's Sundance premiere to its February release to now, how has the response inspired and emboldened you?
I remember when "Get Out" was coming out, I was emboldened by that weekend because it made me feel like I was not crazy. Because on paper, this film could not work in the wrong hands, with the wrong production company, with the wrong roll-out, even the wrong perspective. And people take it into their souls. But I believed in it, for some reason. Just in my gut. I was excited by it.
I feel like this is another form of love that we've been getting this year from people on the streets. It's all been love and this is how this community shows love. The fact that it's still happening and continuing makes you go, "Yeah — just do stuff that you believe in."
How are you going to celebrate today?
It's my girl's birthday today, so it's her day. I need to be a boyfriend. I'm going to go out and then I'm going to chill. But my life's a celebration! We celebrate whatever day we want! We can do what we want.
There are no rules!