Bradley Whitford has had an interesting career since his break-out role in The West Wing, which ran from 1999 to 2006. Everyone knows him as Josh Lyman from that series, and while he has worked steadily since the White House drama left the air (including Aaron Sorkin’s failed follow-up, Studio on the Sunset Strip), it took several years for Whitford to land another role as visible as The West Wing. He struck out with Good Guys, Happyish, and Trophy Wife — all cancelled after one season — and bounced around in guest TV roles for years, in addition to a starring role on the small cult hit, Cabin in the Woods.
In recent years, however, two roles have resurrected Whitford’s career in a big way: Appearing in the most recent two seasons of Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale, and his role in Jordan Peele’s brilliant social-commentary disguised as a horror film, Get Out. How, exactly, did Whitford find himself in Peele’s seminal horror film?
“I just thought it would be funny to see Josh Lyman take the top part of someone’s head off,” Jordan Peele joked with Whitford, according to the latter on this week’s Armchair Expert podcast hosted by Dax Shepard. More seriously, however, Whitford’s The West Wing persona did come into play. Peele “was clearly playing on the ‘good’ liberal white dude” trope, Whitford said. “Beware of the good white liberal!” Shepard added.
Told how perfectly Whitford played the role in Get Out, Whitford confessed to Shepard that he was better suited to the role than perhaps he should have been. “Listen. I did not think that ‘I would vote for Obama for a third term’ was a laugh line.” He originally thought the line was serious. In fact, it’s not clear that the line didn’t originate with Whitford himself, as the actor told GQ last year. “Yeah, what’s really funny to me is — I worked on his campaigns. I love Obama. I didn’t even know that was a joke. I don’t know, but I probably said it to Jordan [Peele], without realizing that it’s the whitest thing a person could say.”
Likewise, even as Peele warned him otherwise, Whitford had no idea that Get Out would become the cultural juggernaut that it did. “The script was incredible,” Whitford told Shepard. “But I didn’t know if it was going to work. We were shooting in Alabama, when we were supposed to shoot in L.A. The highest expectation for this thing was that it would be a little smart, arthouse-weirdo horror thing.” Peele, however, kept telling Whitford that it was “really f**king good.” Whitford thought that Peele was saying that because he had to until he saw the first screening of the film at Sundance.
“Man, I had never seen a soufflé rise like that.”
That “soufflé” would go on to earn $255 million on a $4.5 million budget and change the landscape of horror films forever.
Source: Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard