Nope Costume Designer Explains Characters’ “Obscure” Band T-Shirts

Universal Pictures

Nope Costume Designer Explains Characters’ “Obscure” Band T-Shirts

Universal Pictures

If you’ve seen Jordan Peele’s latest film Nope — and if you haven’t, maybe avoid this article — you probably noticed the plethora of old band t-shirts that its characters wear. Bands represented include the Jesus Lizard, Wipers, Earth, Mr. Bungle, Rage Against The Machine … All very cool! The film’s costume designer Alex Bovaird is making the press rounds now that the film has been out for a weekend, and she’s addressed those shirts.

“We were struggling for wardrobe to fit with Angel’s random career, and we’d had him in these kind of happy outfits, and the actor is just naturally upbeat,” Bovaird told Variety, talking about the Fry’s Electronics employee played by Brandon Perea. “So we were trying to find a way to actually make him a little more, like, depressed, and have his clothes be a bit more depressing. So [the directors] said, ‘He’s the kind of guy who’s standing at the front of a concert, or rocking out with earplugs in.’ We said, ‘OK, let’s put him in band T-shirts — what kind of music is he listening to?”

“Jordan, [producer] Ian [Cooper] and I are all exactly the same age and listen to that music and went to those concerts,” she continued. “Some of them were Jordan’s suggestions, some of them were mine. Poor Brandon [Perea] — we actually had to make a playlist of those bands because he’d heard of maybe Rage Against the Machine, but barely!”

“They’re Angel’s band T-shirts,” Bovaird explained in a different interview with Entertainment Weekly. “And the methodology of that was he wears his favorite band T-shirts now, but these were things he was listening to a couple years ago. His band T-shirts are either post-punk or proto-grunge. And again, there’s a bit of personal stuff going on there, because Jordan and [producer] Ian [Cooper]… they’re making a movie that they want to see, and so sometimes that pops into the costumes. As well as Angel’s the kind of character who likes obscure bands.”

Eventually, the characters played by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer also end up in some of those band tees. The Jesus Lizard one worn by Palmer is particularly striking. “I found the Jesus Lizard one on eBay, and I think it was an indulgence that I treated myself to as well,” Bovaird said to EW. “Because I always look at, like, Insecticide t-shirts and they’re $800, and I’m like, ‘Well, I can’t buy that for myself.’ I think the Jesus Lizard was a thousand dollars. But it was also such a beautiful, vibrant image. It goes with some of the other imagery. Jordan saw it and said, ‘This gives me life.'”

“At one point they were gonna have Angel discussing how much money he’d paid for the T-shirts — it was going to be a character point,” Bovaird noted in the Variety interview. “Emerald was going to say, ‘How much did you pay for it on eBay?’ and then steal it, because she’s a bit of a magpie, you know? But… we always build these stories into the [film’s] clothes that nobody ever knows!”

Nope is in theaters now.

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