Jordan Peele has always had great taste in t-shirts in his films, and that really continues in Nope. His third film, which is currently #1 at the box office, has a particular fondness for punk and alt-rock shirts. At one point, the film's co-stars Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer, who play siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood, are respectively wearing Rage Against the Machine and Jesus Lizard shirts, while Brandon Perea's character, Angel, wears a Wipers t-shirt. There are also flashes of t-shirts for Mr Bungle, Butthole Surfers and Earth.
What's the story? Nope's costume designer, Alex Bovaird, who is currently up for an Emmy for her work on The White Lotus, spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the fashion choices in the film, which she says, in the case of these t-shirts, all stem from Angel, as well as Peele. "If I remember rightly, originally there might have been a line where they talk [and] Keke and Daniel put on Angel's clothes," Bovaird tells EW. "They're Angel's band T-shirts. 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."
Bovaird goes on say, "They're all bands of Jordan's teenage years. So, I think it works on a lot of levels for Jordan. It was something that Angel would be into, but also meaningful for him, and me too. I'm exactly the same age as Jordan, so I'm the one that ran with some of those bands." Bovaird also spoke to Variety saying that there was a "Nirvana-like thread to this," noting that, “Earth was the band that Kurt Cobain’s best friend [Dylan Carson] started, and Kurt loved the Wipers and the Jesus Lizard.”
The t-shirts were vintage and not cheap to procure; the Jesus Lizard shirt Keke Palmer wears was purchased on Ebay for $1000. "Jordan saw it and said, 'This gives me life,'" Bovaird told EW. Speaking with Variety, she said “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. 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!”
Watch the Nope trailer below.