Brandon Perea Is A Scene Stealer In Nope, So Now We Want Him In Everything

Spoilers for "Nope" ahead.

In Jordan Peele's "Nope," the film's protagonists — brother and sister OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer) — are reduced to selling their inherited ranch's trained movie star horses in order to make ends meet. When they find the ranch is being stalked by a mysterious, man-eating flying saucer, Emerald suggests they could make a great deal of money capturing the vessel on film and selling the footage to the highest bidder. Their ambitious new camera setup will be provided by Fry's Electronics in Burbank (a real store that is now, sadly, closed), and will be installed by a shiftless clerk named Angel. Angel, played by Brandon Perea from "The OA," introduces himself by explaining that his pretty movie star girlfriend just dumped him — he bitterly shows pictures of her to OJ — and that he is having trouble concentrating on his job. Already, Angel has far more character than most clerks seen in movies, and the audience's eye has been snagged — who, we ask, is this guy?

While installing the cameras, however, Angel becomes intensely interested on his customers' attempts to films a real-life UFO. Later on, he'll be secretly spying on OJ's and Emerald's camera feed, hastily giving them advice over the phone — much to Emerald's chagrin. It won't take much pushing for Angel to join in on the hunt, serving as the film's go-to tech guy. By the end of the film, Angel is filming alongside a star cinematographer (played by Michael Wincott) as the four main characters attempt to physically wrangle a fast-moving alien craft.

At first, one might assume Perea was merely going to steal one or two scenes. He ends up walking away with many. Peele, wisely, added him to the team.


In an interview with SyFy, Perea revealed that a lot of Angel came from him and not from the script. In Peele's screenplay, Angel was described as "happy-go-lucky," written as something of a cliché geek character. In SyFy, Perea said that, in studying Peele's filmography to prepare for his "Nope" audition, he wanted to make Angel just as grounded and as real as the filmmaker tends to make his side characters. Peele ended up altering the script to expand Angel's personality. Indeed, Perea and Peele evidently had a lot more backstory for Angel than ended up in the final cut of the movie. 

Angel's whingeing about his ex-girlfriend is more than just a streak of color lent to a side character, though. 

One of the central thematic streaks in "Nope" is the way Hollywood tends to discard old craftspeople, leaving them unremembered. Right at the head of the movie, Emerald claims that she and OJ are descended from the jockey seen in "The Horse in Motion," Eadweard Muybridge's 1878 photographic experiment that effectively birthed motion picture technology. By 2022, however, the family legacy of training horses for movies and TV has gone unacknowledged, and, as mentioned above, the ranch has fallen on hard times. Training and wrangling horses is, in the era of CGI, a moribund skill. It will take a UFO to allow OJ to ply his trade for effective creature-wrangling purposes.

Film history as a weapon

Additionally, the Wincott character — seen at the start of "Nope" shooting a commercial he is incredibly bored by — finds that the ancient cinematographic thrill of capturing animals on film in the wild is largely gone in the age of green screens. He seems to prefer physical film to digital tech. He, too, will have a chance to reach into Hollywood's past — in his case, using handmade, 35mm, electricity-free cameras — to battle a UFO. Film history and old cinema technology is weaponized against a modern threat. Cinephiles will salivate.

Angel's place in this thematic equation is the young expert and enthusiast who may not have expertise in old 35mm film technology, but who respects it and is eager to work alongside it. There is a scene near the end of "Nope" wherein Wincott and Perea are sitting side-by-side, each operating their own film camera. Wincott's is hand-cranked and enormous. Perea's is a sleek, push-button, digital device. A young man and an old man, digital and analog, cameras trained in the same direction, working in tandem to a common goal. It's a potent symbol for the evolution of Hollywood; tech be damned, are we out in the world, moved by the same exciting filmmaking impulses?

Oh yes, and, in being dumped by a movie star girlfriend, Angel too — in a way — was left behind by the system. It certainly fits. 

One can't help but give a lot of credit for Perea for allowing that theme to emerge. He took a stock character and expanded him into a fully realized person whose passions spoke to the larger messages of "Nope." If he can do it here, imagine what he could do elsewhere.