The director and 'Nope's cast chat with ET about the Jupiter's Claim theme park set coming to the World-Famous Studio Tour.
The Oscar-winning director and Nope’s cast chatted with ET’s Rachel Smith at Universal Studios Hollywood, where the set of Jupiter’s Claim, a pivotal location in the movie, is becoming part of the iconic Studio Tour attraction.
“This is a piece of the Nope set that is a sort of mom-and-pop theme park owned by a former child star in the film, so it's very meta,” Peele explains. “It's on the Universal backlot tour and it's the first time anything like this has happened, where the actual set is showcased as the movie is coming out.”
He adds, “I am very proud.”
As Peele noted, until Jupiter’s Claim, the debut of a Studio Tour attraction has never before opened day and date with the corresponding project's release date. For some context, Jurassic Park - The Ride (now Jurassic World - The Ride) opened to the public three years after the film hit theaters, which at the time was even considered to have been expedited when compared with most drawing board to execution timelines.
In Nope, Emerald (Keke Palmer) and OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) are a brother-sister duo of Hollywood horse trainers who encounter alien activity on their isolated ranch. “I wrote a script that was impossible. I brought it to people and they told me why it was impossible,” Peele remembers. “I was like, ‘Good. OK. Now, I know I am doing the right thing.’ And then I put together a team.”
Part of that behind-the-scenes ensemble included Ruth De Jong, the production designer for Peele’s sophomore outing, 2019’s Us. The sketch comedy star turned horror maestro was quick to share praise, telling ET that De Jong is “an amazing talent” who “put the world of Nope together.”
The impressive turnaround time is thanks in part to discussions kicking off at the onset of production, where Peele and producing partner Ian Cooper began collaborating with Universal Creative to conceptualize how best to integrate the set into the Studio Tour. After filming wrapped, De Jong worked closely with park developers to carefully disassemble the Jupiter’s Claim set and then meticulously reconstruct it on site.
During the interview, Peele took a moment to wave in the direction of passing guests on the Studio Tour tram. “I don't know if they can tell it’s me or if they're just waving because a person’s waving,” he jokes. “I have social anxiety and self-esteem issues. Even when a tram is going by and waving at me on my own set [at] Universal Studios -- I still feel shame.”
Steven Yeun plays Ricky “Jupe” Park, the aforementioned former child star who owns and operates Jupiter’s Claim, which is described as "a family-fun theme park and predicated on the white-washed history and aesthetics of the California Gold Rush." “I was just like, ‘What are we doing? This is so wild,’” Yeun tells ET of the first time he saw the scope of Nope’s production design.
Universal Studios Hollywood isn’t new to building rides based on fictional theme parks. Jurassic World - The Ride portrays a shoot-the-chute attraction within the movie’s universe. And guests boarding The Simpsons Ride actually step onto a roller coaster at Krusty the Clown’s theme park, Krustyland.
But over at Jupiter’s Claim, Peele hinted the recreated set is also embedded with a personal meta-narrative about Hollywood. “I am not going to say a lot, but in some ways [Ricky] kind of represents me and my relationship with the industry,” he shares.
For Yeun, he was surprised to discover the three-story blow-up figure of Ricky will -- alongside USH’s spinning globe fountain and the all-seeing Minion -- live on as one of the park’s landmark icons. “This was crazy,” he says of his cartoonish effigy. “I didn’t know we were going to have a 50-foot inflatable of Lil Jupe.”
Yeun adds, “I like coming back here. This is actually so trippy that this is going to be here permanently.”
As part of the Studio Tour, Peele also provides a video introduction as guests approach Jupiter’s Claim, which is positioned between views of the War of the Worlds wreckage and the ride’s grand finale, Fast & Furious – Supercharged. From the tram, guests can expect to see: colorful mock storefronts, era-appropriate townsfolk mannequins and carefully scattered props, big and small, along the curved street.
Some of the larger installations, like a set of bleachers from Ricky's outdoor event that's teased in the trailers, are seemingly microcosm-style recreations of important sequences from the movie. For a more interactive option, VIP Experience bookers can also exit the tram and discover additional nuances that went into the immersive placemaking of Jupiter’s Claim, as well as take selfies with the unsettling 49ers mannequins.
Brandon Perea, who plays Fry’s Electronics technician Angel (“Five Stars!”) Torres, echoes his co-star’s sense of awe at the recreation. “It’s insane how well done it is,” he tells ET. “It just feels like I’m back at [Jupiter’s Claim].”
As tram guides are quick to point out, the horror genre put Universal Pictures on the map and the studio continues double-downing on this legacy, in both their production slates and within the parks. Since 2017, Peele has seen his projects contribute to both. Following Get Out’s critical and box office success, he’s ushered in multiple films through his Monkeypaw Productions banner. Meanwhile, Us later set up shop as a haunted maze for Halloween Horror Nights.
With Nope, Peele says he'll be satisfied if the movie’s discourse continues to thrive long after people leave the theater or, maybe, exit through the turnstiles.
“I made a movie about spectacle. And human beings and our relationship to spectacle. I think that the conversation will be about the good and bad that comes with our absolute obsession, and addiction, to see often morbid, spectacular imagery all the time,” Peele shares. “That’s kind of what the movie is about and in its core DNA… I can’t wait to hear what people think.”
Nope hits theaters July 22 and Jupiter’s Claim debuts as part of the World-Famous Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood the same day.