Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key on ‘Wendell & Wild’ reunion
The comedic gents behind Key & Peele are back together.
By Nick Romano October 20, 2022 at 12: 00 PM EDT
They saw each other for about 4 hours that first session as they began work recording the voices for the titular brother demons, Wendell (Key) and Wild (Peele), who trick an Afro-punk teen orphan, Kat (Lyric Ross), to summon them up to the land of the living. They wouldn’t see each other for about five months afterwards, at which point they would record for another 4 hours. That cycle would continue throughout the production process, but each time brought back fond memories.
“It’s like you had a dance partner for years and years and years. You come back, learn a new routine, but then you know you’re not gonna do the routine again for another five months… It’s that riding-a-bike feeling,” Key tells EW in an interview with Peele and Selick out of the Toronto International Film Festival in September. “When you spend that much time with somebody, especially a person that you lived with — we lived together for 4 months when we first started our career together at Mad TV — there is a real connection and there are times when it gets downright symbiotic. It was just locking those pieces in again.”
EW can reveal an exclusive clip from Wendell & Wild, teasing the fruits of this latest team-up for Key and Peele.
Peele knew he would agree to work with Selick ever since he was approached by the stop-motion maven behind films like Coraline and James and the Giant Peach — even if Selick didn’t know that himself. Selick based the idea off of a short story concept he wrote years earlier, accompanied by a sketch of his young sons as demons. (They were acting a bit like demons at the time, as it were.) The plan was to write a book, but that directive never came to fruition. When Selick circled back on the idea as a movie, it coincided with his viewing of the sketch comedy show Key & Peele and he had its stars in mind for the demon roles.
“I think what he probably didn’t realize was how much I wanted to produce and how much I wanted to let Henry know about the things I loved about his work and all the things that I would have died to see as a 13-year-old or a 12-year-old watching his work,” Peele says. “So that’s how we started to shape the story into something that feels very Monkeypaw [Peele’s production company behind Get Out, Us, and Nope] and very Key & Peele.”
“As we got way further into the process and we started recording, things that would occur to me were Jordan and I had developed a relationship nomenclature, if you will,” Key adds. “This is gonna be a peas-in-the-pod relationship. This is going to be a one-upmanship relationship. This is going to be a Mexican standoff relationship. This is gonna be whatever it is, a Laurel and Hardy relationship. I just had to hone in based on the script, even though it was ever evolving, what the kernel of the relationship between them would be. They are brothers, so I just had to make sure how much would my character be similar to Jordan’s character and how much would be diametrically opposed. Eventually, I came to this place where Wendell’s the big brother. Wherever there is a peak for Wild, there’s a valley for Wendell.”
Wendell and Wild
Keegan-Michael Key as Wendell and Jordan Peele as Wild in Netflix’s ‘Wendell & Wild’
| Credit: Netflix
This reunion between Key and Peele has seemingly already gotten the gears churning for what this pair could do together next. “The beauty of it is it keeps bringing us together to have that conversation,” Peele says. “Just a half hour ago we were reminiscing and saying, ‘Who knows?'”
“It’s like we put the water in the pot. We just haven’t put a teabag in yet,” Key adds. “Who knows what that’s going to lead to?”
Wendell & Wild premieres Friday on Netflix.
I have been writing professionally for over 20 years and have a deep understanding of the psychological and emotional elements that affect people. I’m an experienced ghostwriter and editor, as well as an award-winning author of five novels.