Jordan Peele Reveals Origin Behind ‘Scorpion King’ Reference in ‘Nope’

Jordan Peele’s latest movie, Nope, delivers a suspenseful sci-fi adventure but it’s also a love letter to Hollywood and working in the film industry. It has plenty of nods and references to past films like Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. One surprising movie it references is The Scorpion King and Jordan Peele explains how that movie found its way into Nope

What is ‘Nope’ about?

Director Jordan Peele attends the premiere of Nope
Jordan Peele | Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic

Nope is the third movie directed by Jordan Peele and is a blend between horror and science fiction. The movie stars Danie Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as Hollywood horse trainers who run a ranch outside of Los Angeles. After encountering a UFO, the two try to capture it on film and make money off of the footage. 

While Peele crafted an exciting sci-fi adventure, he also paid tribute to Hollywood and the people who work behind the scenes. The ranch that the two siblings run has a long history in show business. They even share that the jockey in “plate 626” is their ancestor. 

Jordan Peele explains the ‘Scorpion King’ reference in ‘Nope’

The Scorpion King is a 2002 action movie starring Dwayne Johnson. It’s a spinoff of The Mummy Returns, where Johnson first appeared as the character in gloriously terrible CGI. While it does star Johnson, it is not considered to be a beloved classic. 

Kaluuya’s character talks about working with his father on movies when he was younger. During the climax, he is riding his horse while wearing a bright orange hoodie that says The Scorpion King on it. It’s revealed that he worked on the movie with his father (Keith David) before the horses were replaced by camels. 

In a podcast interview with Empire, Jordan Peele explains why The Scorpion King was chosen to be on the sweatshirt. Peele explains that it wasn’t in the original script but he wanted the sweatshirt to be orange and he knew The Scorpion King could have been a movie that he worked on with his dad, based on the math. 

“It was not in the original script,” Peele said. “It was something that you just kind of do the work on. I knew the character had worked on something with his father when he was twelve years old and this would be his father’s piece of swag that he got. So it became about what movies could it have been if you’re doing the (math). And then, I mean, Scorpion King…come on. I knew it had to be orange, and so it was all perfect. You put out these connective feelers and things come back to you.”

‘Nope’ is another success for Peele

Peele became a horror director to watch after the successes of his first two movies, Get Out and Us. While Nope isn’t as celebrated as Get Out, it is a success with critics, with an 82% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes

However, what’s most impressive about Nope is its box office success, considering it is not based on any popular IP and is fully original. So far, Nope has made over $114 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. It proves that Jordan Peele is a name people have a lot of interest in and creative filmmakers that audiences can trust can still bring people to the theaters. 

Nope is now in theaters. 

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