Jordan Peele explains symbolic use of Michael Jackson ‘Thriller’ t-shirt in new horror movie ‘Us’

"I think it addresses this idea of the shadow self."

Us director Jordan Peele has explained the significance of a Michael Jackson T-shirt worn by a character in the forthcoming horror movie, which hits cinemas next week. Watch our full video interview with Peele above.

In the film, the follow-up to Get Out, Lupita Nyong’o’s character, Adelaide Wilson, is seen as a child in 1986 wearing a ‘Thriller’ t-shirt. The film’s release coming only weeks after the documentary Leaving Neverland saw Jackson being accused of extensive sexual abuse. While Peele wasn’t aware of the coming documentary at the time of filming, he says that Jackson’s story reflects the darkened sense of self that is present within the film.

“I didn’t know that this documentary was coming out, but in many ways the duality of Michael Jackson has been well documented,” he told NME.


“There’s this murky area when it comes to the specifics of his all story and all that. I think it addresses this idea of the shadow self and when we talk about the collective shadow self, which is what this film is about, it involves an ability for us to ignore the truth and the darker side of ourselves.

“That’s a perfect symbol for what this movie is.”

Twilight Zone
Jordan Peele

Peele was speaking to NME ahead of Us hitting cinemas next week – two years after the huge success of his debut movie Get Out.

When asked if he felt pressure to follow up the success of the Oscar winning horror, Peele said: “Get Out was so out of the box because I was making it for me. For several years with that script, I  thought I was writing a script for me to read and to get better as a writer and entertain myself with ‘oh, this would be the best movie if someone would make it.

“When that movie worked and the fantastic response came, I knew I had to return to this idea of ‘write a movie for you to read’ and trust that people will dig it.”


Us is released next Friday. “