“Us” is a movie that we still can’t stop thinking about. Released earlier this spring, Jordan Peele’s sophomore effort as a writer/director (after the zeitgeist-capturing, Oscar-winning “Get Out”) was even more ambitious, thoughtful, and provocative. The story, ostensibly of a family (led by Lupita Nyong’o) who encounter their violent, jumpsuit-clad doppelgangers while on a vacation getaway, is terrifying and surreal, every bit the masterpiece that “Get Out” was. (“Us” is now on digital HD and on Blu-ray tomorrow, so we can now re-watch the movie endlessly for all of the things we missed the first time around.)
Recently we jumped on the phone to chat with Tim Heidecker, who plays Josh and his violent double Tex. Josh is a friend of the Lupita’s family and a neighbor in the seaside retreat, wealthy and boorish, who suffers a similar fate – confronted by his evil double and all that nasty stuff lurking inside himself.
We talked about how Heidecker got involved in the project, what Peele shared with him about the larger world of the Tethered and whether or not he’d come back for more adventures in this wonderfully warped world.
Moviefone: how did you sort of initially get involved with the project?
Tim Heidecker: I got the call from my agent t, meet with Jordan who wanted to talk to me about the movie and I said, “Okay, sure. Let's talk.” Knowing he was doing something cool, he just said, “I wrote this part in the movie, I think you'd be great for it and I hope you can do it.” And that was pretty much it. I was onboard.
Jordan has talked pretty openly about how he has the whole world of “Us” figured out. But how much of that did he share with you, especially when it came to the characters you play?
Not much. I'm happy he's got it figured out, but we focused on the scenes that were in the movie. And we talked a little bit about the overall concept of the tethered and how Tex is this version of Josh. So it informed a little bit of the humor that you see in the way Tex moves and the way he communicates and stuff. But no he didn't lay down his map of the whole thing. But I was happy. I don't need to know. I didn't want to know everything. I didn't want to read the ending of the script because I just wanted to see it like everybody else.
Did you end up reading it?
No. I did not read the last five pages. I wasn't in at, first of all, so what do I need? Why do I need to know? I want to see it. I want to be surprised.
Can you talk about the look of Tex?
Well the look for Tex is informed by the way that the tethered look and their jumpsuit was going to be uniform with everybody else and there's only so much we can do with everything else. There was some creative makeup and making new look a little more whole and gaunt. It was a little more collaborative with the Josh character and the style that he would have. And the tattoos of course were just fun. I had a guy that I know that I worked with once in mind for Josh. And Jordan was also thinking about tattoos. I said, “Oh, I got it. I know who this guy is now.” We enjoyed building that and talking about what kind of ironic rock and roll tee shirts this guy would wear. He’s a guy that wants to be seen as dangerous and edgy. But he’s also rich and as a dad. And so it was a mix of that; the weekend warrior kind of guy.
Whose idea was it to have the kimono over his jumpsuit?
I think it's in the script. I think Jordan who’s making all these moves happen. We went back and forth on the kimonos. I have the backup kimono at home with me, which I love. But the one they picked was like, this was going to look good with blood on it, that's for sure.
Well, I was going to ask her, are you a fan of the horror genre?
I’m not really a horror nerd. I don't see them all when they all come out. But the good ones. You know, that’s the great thing about “Get Out” was there was a quality to it that is above the fray of some of the other ones. But I love “The Shining” and David Lynch movies I think are in a lot of ways horror movies. But I don’t see all of the “Friday the 13th” movies or anything.
There’s a great moment where Tex holds out his hand and then whips it back in the “too slow” motion. Where did that come from?
You know what’s bugging me is I can't remember and I don't have the script anymore because you get these scripts that are watermarked and they expire. So I can't see if it's in the original script. I'm going to say it is. So much of what's good in that movie was in the script and I was just a lucky to have a good script. You’ve got to sell it, too, so I’m doing my part.
What was it like working with Jordan? You guys share a very rich comedy background obviously.
It was a blast. We speak the same language comedy wise. We knew each other a little bit. Him and his producing partner Ian and everybody involved in making the movie seems to be really happy I was there. He thought it was this cool move that he put me in the movie. He just thought it was like this subtle, kind of a strange move that he didn't just go to another, more known actor or something. I don't know. He just thought it was a fun move for him to pull to put me in the movie. And the fact that he could make those kinds of decisions on a big movie like that. And he's going to put Tim Heidecker in this movie. I think he was just really enjoyed having me there.
I’m just an actor in a movie and I'm just happy to be there. I come on time and I'm an easy guy to work with. I think. I try to be and I try to be light and make jokes and not be a pain in the ass. So it was really fun and it was collaborative in that Jordan wanted my feedback and let me improvise around the lines a little bit. It was a blast. It was one of only movies I've done where I went to set when I wasn't required to be on set because it was fun to be there. It was fun to be around those people and see him work and focus in on making the movie.
There are rumors that there will be an “Us”-themed haunted house at a Universal this Halloween. Would you want to attend?
Oh my god. If they will hooked me up with a free pass for me and my wife, I would be happy to go. I don't know if I would pay to go, that’d be a strange experience. But that would be cool. Now that you say it, I can picture the whole thing. It sounds cool. Rabbits and stuff.
Jordan has teased that there could be other movies in this universe. If he mounted a sequel or spin-off, would you come back?
Of course. I would pick up his call on the first ring.
“Us” is available on digital HD now and Blu-ray tomorrow.