Brandon Perea has experienced several pinch-me moments since being cast in Nope, Jordan Peele’s runaway hit thriller. Perhaps chief among them was when he found himself alongside his co-stars on Late Night With Seth Meyers. “I’m sitting on the couch, and Jordan Peele taps my shoulder and looks at me like, check this out,” Perea, standing backstage at Coach’s spring 2023 show during New York Fashion Week on September 12, tells me. “I just looked at him in his eyes and I was like, That’s Jordan Peele. And then I looked to my left, and I was like, That’s Keke Palmer. On the other couch, I see Daniel Kaluuya, one of my favorite actors of all time. I had my fan-out moment right there on the show.”
In the film, Perea stars as Angel Torres—a role that Peele himself rewrote specifically for the 27-year-old Chicago native after meeting the actor. Since the film’s release in late July, Perea has traveled the world with his castmates and, most recently, headed to New York City to attend Coach’s runway presentation, where Lil Nas X made his runway debut. But being in the fashion space still feels entirely new to him. Take, for instance, his fitting for the Coach show look he and his stylist Shareef Grady chose: a baseball cap, sunglasses, and a massive leather jack with outsized shoulders. Days before, Perea was in the showroom, rifling through racks of clothing. Being the polite Midwesterner he is, Perea began cleaning up the pieces he’d tried on, placing them back on hangers while apologizing profusely. “They were like, ‘What are you doing?’” he recalls. “‘Just leave it, we’ll take care of it!’ I’m like, ‘No, this is what I have to do! I don’t know what else to do here!’”
What is your personal history with Coach?
They did a collaboration with Basquiat and there was a red bag that I loved at the time—but I couldn’t afford it. I got lucky and was able to get it on sale somehow, a year and a half later. To be here now, sitting in the front row, just showcases the hard work I’ve been putting in throughout the years as a working actor. A few years ago, I couldn’t buy a Coach bag. And now, they’re handing me bags.
This is your first time doing a massive press run for Nope. What has that been like?
It was great to do it with those actors, those incredible humans: Daniel, Keke, Steven [Yeun], Jordan. It was eye-opening, and I learned a lot. I learned that it’s actually very tiring. I didn’t expect a press tour to be tiring! I’m like, what is everyone talking about, telling me, ‘Oh, you’re gonna be gassed’? Like, what do you mean? It’s fun. We just talk and do interviews. And then I realized it’s harder than filming the movie.
You think so?
Yeah! But it's been the biggest blessing to be a part of it all, and to learn from the best. They were so gracious with notes and what I needed to do.
What were some of those notes or pieces of advice?
In the case of Daniel, growing up in this industry, I was always watching a lot of his interviews—seeing how he moved, what mistakes that he made, and what he learned from. Back then, I was just watching his press tours as a fan. But seeing him do it as a coworker was crazy. Daniel was always saying, ‘You get what you need, make sure that you’re comfortable. Film is forever, you’re the one in front of it.’ And then Keke’s just the master, keeping that energy up all the time. It’s crazy when you’re doing press with Keke, because you could just let her do the thing—that energy’s always there, camera or not. And she’s so quick, both in interviews, and as an actor. Jordan ran the greatest set ever. He was so gracious and kind. That was beautiful to see.
Let's get into the Social Qs questions. Is there anything that you would never post on social media?
I actually don’t like posting me talking, being like, ‘Hey guys, it’s Brandon, I'm eating breakfast!’ I have no interest in that. I like having a bit of a mystique. I don’t want everyone to get an inside look on my everyday life. I am an actor, and I consider myself to be more of a character actor anyway, so I want people to be able to be surprised by characters I portray. On social media, you’ve really gotta dig to find me.
How do you unplug?
Through my hobbies. I break dance—sometimes on roller skates, too. I BMX, so going to the skate park and putting together lines of tricks is fun. Rock climbing, which I love—that’s a new one. And training as well. If I’m frustrated, I’ll go and kick or punch a bag. I do boxing, Muay Thai, MMA training, that’s so freeing. It’s an art form as well, and it brings me peace. I love being in tune with my body. That’s my thing. That’s my instrument.
Describe yourself using three emojis.
The sleeping emoji, because I love sleeping, it’s always a good time. And then the upside-down smiley face, because I’m always doing head spins and tricks. The roller skate is a good one, too. That’s a part of me.
What are your social media pet peeves?
I don’t like mid culture. I think it tarnishes a lot of people’s art. What really got to me is when people were calling Kendrick Lamar’s latest album, “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers” mid. I was baffled. Every song on there is incredible; it’s storytelling at the highest level. But mid culture really puts people off of things, and that’s a shame. I don’t like that type of culture of attacking other people’s art before it’s even out, then no one gives it a shot. I can't get on board with that.
Do you respond to DMS?
Not really, because I’m not on my phone too much, especially these days. I see the love people give me, and it’s definitely appreciated. But I just can’t respond to everybody because I think when you start crafting a bond, there’s a responsibility to give back constantly. Sometimes I can’t do that, because there are people in my everyday life who I need to give that energy to.
How do you block out the haters online?
To be fair, I don’t really have a lot of haters online. There are a lot of people that are very gracious toward me and I’m grateful for that. But if I were to deal with any hate, in any sense, I’d brush it off. I know there are people around me who love me. And I’ll always continue to be myself, as long as I’m being a good person. I don’t really care what people think. Having a good heart will get me through the world and that's the mark I’ll leave.