Lupita Nyong’o: ‘Horror movies give us permission to be afraid’


Lupita Nyong’o covers the March issue of Marie Claire to promote her role in Jordan Peele’s Us, his follow-up to the hugely successful Get Out. From everything we’ve heard so far, Us will be very different than Get Out. Get Out was more of a social commentary/psychological horror-thriller, where Us is just straight-up horror, with a buffet of disturbing imagery already (scissors, bunnies, clones). Lupita talks a lot about how she was obsessed with Get Out and Jordan Peele before they even met, and how she cried the first time they did meet. She just sounds like the biggest fan-girl, and it’s great. You can read the full cover story here. Some highlights:

On working with Jordan Peele for their film Us: “I knew I had to work with him. He [Peele] asked me, ‘What is your process as an actor? What do you need from a director? And I just started to cry. I was like, ‘I’ve never been asked that before.’ I could just tell in that question was a man who understood what it meant to be an actor…”

On the horror genre: “Horror movies give us permission to be afraid in a world where you’re not often encouraged to be fearful. Fear is something that is suppressed. And it’s an emotion to be overcome. It’s never an emotion to just experience. And in horror films, we give ourselves permission to do that. We all get into a room, and we know what we’ve signed up for. We go through it together, and it’s cathartic.”

Scary movies were kind of her jam as a kid. “I used to watch a whole lot of horror when I was younger. It was almost like I was daring myself. I had an older sister and older cousins, and I didn’t want to be the scaredy-cat. You hold yourself together to prove something to yourself and to others. My siblings would tell you I love to scare them. I still to this day get such a kick out of frightening my siblings. But I stopped exercising that scary-movie muscle.”

On the support from her father: “It makes a huge difference to have a father who champions you. My dad was a feminist before it was cool for men to be feminists—his father too in many ways. My father’s father married my grandmother in her late teens, and he had her go to school. All his girls went to school. All my aunts are extremely educated, leaders in their fields, incredible women. And my father came from that.”

On not becoming passive during within the current political climate: “Right now it’s a very, very polarizing environment. The pendulum has swung to the nth degree. But it’s important that we still find vigor when things are not that extreme because it’s in those moments when the pendulum is just swinging side to side that the most damage can be done. That’s when you get passive, when things aren’t that bad. Before you know it, things are terrible again, because we fell asleep at the wheel.”

[From Marie Claire]

First of all, I just can’t with “scary movie” peeps. CB can watch scary sh-t all day long and I don’t understand that at all. How do you avoid nightmares? How do you even go to sleep after you’ve watched a scary movie? I can’t do that to myself, because my nerves will be frayed for weeks afterwards. But I know there are tons of people out there who love big scary movies and the gore and all of that. Ugh, I just can’t. As for what she says about her dad being a feminist… that’s really great.


Photos courtesy of Daria Kobayashi Ritch for Marie Claire, sent from promotional Marie Claire email.

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11 Responses to “Lupita Nyong’o: ‘Horror movies give us permission to be afraid’”

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  1. Valiantly Varnished says:

    I have to say that I find it pretty sad that a director never asked her those questions as an actor before. Those are the BASICS of what an actor needs to serve a role. Lupita has worked with some amazing directors who have worked with other amazing actors. And they don’t ask those simple questions? That’s actually pretty appalling.

  2. BlueSky says:

    I’m with you on horror movies but I kinda wanna see this. I have a lot of female friends who love “The Walking Dead” so I watched the pilot on Netflix. I had nightmares for 2 days but I was able to handle “World War Z”

  3. Milla says:

    I love scary movies. I enjoy them cos you are scared under your own terms. Dunno how to explain it better.

    That cover is amazing, one of the best since… no idea. It is stunning photo.

  4. Becks1 says:

    I cant handle watching horror movies – too much tension! and I hate the moment when something jumps out at you or whatever – but I am kind of fascinated by the actual plots and I spend a lot of time on Wikipedia reading the plots of the movies, lol.

    • elimaeby says:

      MY SO does the exact same thing! He’ll sometimes come home to find me watching one, rush into the other room, get on Wikipedia and read the whole synopsis because he wants to know what happens, but not have to feel the stress. Then, when he walks by on the way to the bathroom, he threatens to spoil the plot :/ But he never has; that’s just how we play lol.

  5. Babadook says:

    I almost always end up sleeping with the curtains slightly open to let the streetlights shine in after a horror movie, but I love them!

    • elimaeby says:

      Your name didn’t give it away that you love scary movies or anything, Babadook 😉 But I’m the same. We recently had a power outage in our neighborhood (in downtown Chicago, so I NEVER see total dark). My SO and I decided to just go to bed early because we couldn’t do much, but it was too dark for me. I replayed every scary movie I have ever seen in my mind. I had to deal with letting my laptop battery die so I could relax with some Bob’s Burgers.

  6. Sparker says:

    Horror queen here and I’m sooo going to see this movie!!!! in the theatre, in the dark, with lots of buttery popcorn to keep me company. And i’ll probably take my kids to cause, what’s your formative years without a little parental irresponsibility? ALSO, omg have you seen HEREDITY?!!! Woke up in a cold sweat after that one, perfect horror. There’d be no hope if that was your family, there’s no way anyone’s surviving that shit.

  7. Naddie says:

    I love watching scary movies, specially alone to amp up the experience. What she says about fear is not only true as it shows the intelligent woman she is.

  8. holly says:

    I didn’t think it was possible to love Lupita any more than I already do, but she looks amazing with longer hair.