- Universal Pictures
- Jordan Peele had to get approval for character Jason to wear a “Jaws” shirt in “Us.”
- To secure this approval, he actually called up Steven Spielberg himself.
- Every pop culture nod in “Us” is intentional and meaningful.
Jordan Peele’s new horror film “Us” is already proving to be a box office sensation with an estimated $70 million opening weekend. Now fans and critics alike are parsing through the film to unpack all of the cinematography choices, plot points, and even costuming in each scene.
In a recent interview, Peele explained that he had to reach out to Steven Spielberg himself to get one memorable costuming decision approved: the “Jaws” shirt that Jason is wearing when his unsuspecting family first drives to the beach.
“First of all, obviously [Spielberg’s] films have influenced me a great deal,” Peele told Fox 5’s entertainment reporter Kevin McCarthy. “One of the first things I did when I finished the script was… I want[ed] to put Jason in a ‘Jaws’ shirt. So I reached out to Steven… begged him… I said, is there a ‘Jaws’ shirt I can use for this film?”
"I want to put Jason in a Jaws shirt..I reached out to Steven (Spielberg)..begged him..I said..Is there a Jaws shirt..I can use for this film and he said yes."@JordanPeele also talks about the amazing shadows shot on the beach.
— Kevin McCarthy (@KevinMcCarthyTV) March 20, 2019
Fortunately, Spielberg approved the costuming choice, and actor Evan Alex was able to wear the shirt and in the process nod to the popular 1975 film. Spielberg was also thanked in the film’s credits.
“It was such a validating moment for the design of this film that we were able to get that,” Peele concluded.
Peele is intentional with each pop culture reference in “Us,” from “Goonies” to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and even “Jaws.” Besides the t-shirt, Vulture pointed out that the film seems to reference “Jaws” during its beach scenes several times in both visual and textual clues.
“Everything in this movie was deliberate, that is one thing I can guarantee you,” Peele said in a promotional interview. “Unless you didn’t like something and that was a complete accident.”
And costume designer Kym Barrett told Fashionista that the choice of the “Jaws” shirt had a very particular meaning.
“It builds up this generational myth and also cements [the setting] in California, Hollywood, movies and horror,” she told them.