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Film

Daniel Kaluuya on the movies that inspired him as a kid

It hasn’t taken the British actor Daniel Kaluuya all that long to reach the pinnacle of Hollywood success. After breaking into the consciousness of international audiences with the release of Get Out in 2017 the actor has since joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Black Panther, collaborated with British filmmaking icon Steve McQueen and even won an Academy Award for Best Leading Actor in 2021. 

The movie in question was Judas and the Black Messiah, a film about Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. Daniel Kaluuya’s mesmerising power as the mighty Hampton acts as the film’s beating drum, creating a swirling intensity that is intensified by the quality of the supporting cast. 

He is no mere mouthpiece, however, with Kaluuya accessing the subtleties of such a powerful character, revealing his innate compassion and astuteness, particularly when he and his lover, played terrifically by Dominique Fishback, flirt and laugh with contagious delight around their flat. 

To date, Judas and the Black Messiah is Kaluuya’s most recent film, though this is due to change later this summer when the actor collaborates with director Jordan Peele for the second time, appearing in Nope with Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun and Barbie Ferreira. Telling the story of some sort of alien threat to a small-town community, Peeles’ latest film is one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the year.

Jordan Peele on the two movies that influenced ‘Get Out’

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The return to the silver screen for Kaluuya has got fans interested in how the British actor ever happened to arrive in the industry in the first place, with his interview with The Talks revealing this detail, among many others. 

Asked what films he loved to watch as a child, Kaluuya told the publication, “Oh, I was watching fun shit! I’m watching Robin Williams, I’m watching Jim Carrey. I watched a lot more sitcoms back then, Fresh Prince, Different Strokes, Sister Sister, Friends, and all that”. Whilst he indeed enjoyed consuming a lot of American content, he also adds, “But most of the time I was playing outside, then you get older, and you’re chatting up girls, so there wasn’t really time for that. I didn’t arrive to acting through watching actors”. 

As to how he arrived in acting, the actor explains, “I think it was just in primary school, a teacher said to my mum, like, ‘You should get into acting,’ because I was busy in class and I was a joker! I think I just really enjoyed making people laugh”. 

“I ended up doing improv at Anna Scher Theatre,” Kaluuya adds, “I got on the waiting list at nine and it was a four-year wait! And I got in at 13. A lot of things happened during that time, but for whatever reason, I still wanted to do it”. 

His first break came way back in 2006, when Kaluuya was just 14, appearing in the BAFTA-winning TV show Shoot the Messenger alongside such names as Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Ariyon Bakare.