Steeped in the love of film and filmmaking, there’s a particular moment in Jordan Peele’s Nope that’s an instantly recognisable homage. In an heroic moment of motorcycle badassery, Keke Palmer’s Emerald Haywood slides down-screen to a slow-motion, side-on, posturing halt that’s a straight lift from Katsuhiro Otomo’s seminal ‘80s anime Akira. “There are so many ways you can stop a motorcycle,” Peele tells Empire, reflecting on the shot for our Review Of The Year issue. “And it was just like, ‘You know what? I could do it a different way, or we could build this rig and do a practical fucking Akira slide.’”
That few seconds is as close as we’ve yet come to the long-mooted live-action Akira remake. Peele was himself in the ring for that gig for a time, but ultimately chose to continue with his own personal projects, rather than spend years trying to adapt someone else’s. “Ultimately, I felt like if I was going to put that much energy into trying to honour one of the best works of all time, why not put that energy into something of my own?” he tells us. But when Nope presented the opportunity, he seized it with both hands, calling the moment “a bit of a punctuation [mark] for myself that I picked the right pathway.”
As for how the shot was achieved, Peele gives much of the credit to Nope’s Special Effects Coordinator, Scott R. Fisher. “He’s a master,” Peele enthuses. “He and Mark Vanselow, our stunt coordinator, devised a rig that would take Keke sliding down the street, a track about 20-feet long, from where the camera was, on an arm of sorts controlled by [cinematographer] Hoyte [van Hoytema].” It took only a few attempts to get right: “The special-effects guys and our stunt-team essentially pull Keke, and she folds over safely as the bike is pulled towards that well,” explains Peele. “Then we create billowing dust to cover up our tracks a bit, and clean up the rest with VFX.” And just like that, you have an Akira homage for the ages.
Read Empire’s full piece talking to Jordan Peele about Nope and Akira in our new Review Of The Year issue – on sale Thursday 27 October, or pre-order a copy online here. Nope is available to rent at home now.
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