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Manitoba

Brandon Perea on ‘Nope’ and Memories of Fry’s

Angel Torres, the Fry’s Electronics tech who teams up with OJ and Em to take on unimaginable powers in Jordan Peele’s “Nope,” just nominated for a WGA Award, was written more as a happy, hands-on guy. But that didn’t seem right to Brandon Perea, who approached the role with a more composed, anxious approach.

“Nobody’s really happy working in a tech store,” says Perea, who took his brothers to Fry’s to check out all things video games and never encountered an overzealous employee. “It was a real place for me.”

Additionally, Perea says, “My cheat code for this role was my brothers: One is a computer technician for Dell who goes to companies and fixes problems. I hear all these stories like, “These people are trying to sound like they know what they’re talking about and it’s so annoying.” My other brother used to run a printing shop and when I was in the shop he would look at me, when the customers have said something annoying.”

Perea, who is part Filipino, part Puerto Rican, affable and enthusiastic, wanted to give Angel a different feel, even if the brief description that came with the pages for his self-tape audition was just “Nice, clutch guy who’s in works in a tech shop.”

“I wanted to make my audition real, but I wanted it to stand out,” he says, “so I brought a more depressive feel to the role.”

Perea, who has made a name for himself as the youngest professional roller skater (his specialty is jam skating, i.e. break dancing on roller skates) and in the TV series The OA. His attitude caught Peele’s attention and the actor soon did a Zoom callback with Peele.

A few days later, Perea was informed that Peele wanted to have a Zoom improv session; Peele told him, “The character you brought was very different from the one I wrote for and I would have to rewrite my entire script,” Perea recalls, adding that you could see his eyes that he didn’t think he would get the role work. But then Peele added, “I will. You got the part.” (There was no improv session, Peele just wanted to surprise him.)

Perea was concerned that he might get on his nerves in rehearsals or on set with Peele, as well as Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya, whom he cites as his favorite actors, but “it was the easiest job I’ve ever had.”

“In rehearsals I just realized that they’re all really good, so I wanted to be just as good and keep up with them, and I’m the new guy, so I just trusted them,” he says.

That faith has paid off and now Perea faces a new challenge, the “whirlwind” of building on the Hollywood success and figuring out what to do next. “I put myself under pressure trying to make the right choice,” he says. “I read and attend meetings, but I have no idea what the next right thing is. I think building a career means having an open mind – I’m not afraid of a small indie film or a small role in a bigger film as long as it’s good. But I was definitely spoiled from working with Jordan Peele on this one.”

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