Nope Director Jordan Peele Explains Origin of Scorpion King Horses Joke

Daniel Kaluuya on horseback

Jordan Peele explains how a joke about The Scorpion King made its way into his latest film, Nope. The director’s third feature follows two siblings who attempt to capture evidence and profit off an unidentified flying object reeking havoc over their Agua Dulce ranch. Nope premiered back in July to positive reactions from both critics and audiences and has already grossed over $100 million domestically, marking a rare box office achievement for Peele, whose previous two movies managed to do the same. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea, and Michael Wincott.


Those who have already seen Peele’s science-fiction horror film know that it focuses on Haywood’s Hollywood Horse Ranch, inherited by OJ and Emerald after the inexplicable death of their father. Part of a long history, they state that the jockey recorded in “Plate 626” from the scientific photograph series, Animal Locomotion, was their ancestor. Having worked with his father on a number of projects, it is revealed that OJ was initially involved with Dwayne Johnson’s The Scorpion King when he was younger, as evidenced by a bright orange crew hoodie that he wears later in the movie – however, their horses were eventually replaced by camels. Other blockbuster movie references in Nope include Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as well as a hilarious callback to Poltergeist.

Related: 1 Slick Hidden Nope Detail Perfectly Foreshadows Each Character’s Fate

In a recent podcast conversation with Empire, Peele touches on that one nod to The Scorpion King, revealing that it was not originally in the script. The director explains that he knew the character of OJ had worked on something with his father when he was young, and that it was just a matter of doing the math. The Scorpion King came to mind, and knowing that his hoodie should be orange, it was “perfect.” Read Peele’s quote regarding that reference in Nope below:

It was not in the original script. It was something that you just kind of do the work on. I knew the character had worked on something with his father when he was twelve years old and this would be his father’s piece of swag that he got. So it became about what movies could it have been if you’re doing the (math). And then, I mean, Scorpion King…come on. I knew it had to be orange, and so it was all perfect. You put out these connective feelers and things come back to you.

The Haywood siblings with their horse

Given the success of all three of his endeavors, many are already wondering what Peele has in store for his next film. When asked about his next movie after Nope, the director teased that, while he cannot be certain, there are a few ideas beginning to filter in. He said the next couple of months will be spent watching and waiting for the “world” and other good films to inspire which concept to tackle.

After finding Peele navigating the science fiction genre to great effect, it will be interesting to see what direction he leans in with his fourth movie. In a film that looks and feels completely different from his two prior entries, it is safe to say that whatever the filmmaker decides to do next will be less than obvious and likely draw a lot of attention. Fans of Peele can look forward to finding out what lies ahead when the time comes, while continuing to support Nope as it plays in theaters now.

Source: Empire

Author: Deann Hawkins