Lupita Nyong’o pulls double duty in Jordan Peele’s new horror movie “Us” and the work was physically and emotionally exhausting.
The “Black Panther” actress opened up about her new role on Wednesday’s episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”. Nyong’o, 36, plays both Adelaide Wilson — the matriarch of the Wilson family — and her terrifying doppelganger Red.
“They’re very different, they’re diametrically opposed to each other but they’re also connected,” she told DeGeneres. “So I had to go to some dark places within myself to find the doppelganger, Red.”
The Academy Award-winning actress shared that she worked with “almost a mathematical precision” to create Adelaide and Red and “have them be as distinct as they needed to be, but also have them influence and be connected to each other.” Her biggest challenge was being on “both sides of the argument,” and ensuring that neither Adelaide nor Red felt more real and fleshed-out than the other; they had to be equal.
“Truly I went through another level of trusting my creative instincts working on this because it was so hectic and extremely stressful, because it was two roles to play. And Jordan, before we started, had said, ‘Listen, Lupita, you’re going to be extremely tired, I just need you to know that.’ So that made me really nervous, but when I started working on it, it needed my energy and focus on another level, and what ended up changing was me trusting my instincts and trusting that the work I had done to prepare was enough,” said Nyong’o, who added with a laugh, “And I spent a lot of free time taking naps.”
“There was a comfort level there when going into this with him. We trust each other personally as well as professionally, so we were able to do some risky stuff that the other person was game to support. In terms of the family dynamic, Jordan cast these incredible children, Shahadi [Wright Joseph, who plays Zora Wilson] and Evan [Alex, who portrays Jason Wilson], who are both extremely talented and very gracious children, professional, enthusiastic, passionate, and imaginative,” said Nyong’o. “We had a rehearsal process where we went to the Wilson home where we were going to shoot, and we built on our chemistry. We discovered our natural allegiances and exchanged a lot of very bad dad jokes, courtesy of Winston Duke primarily, and then Shahadi. So it was a very close and intimate relationship that we formed, and Jordan was ushered into that. We just really trusted each other’s creative processes.”
“Us” is Peele’s sophomore film as director, and much like “Get Out”, it has been an early hit with critics. “I’d walk off a cliff for Jordan Peele,” said Nyong’o. “I was madly in love with the mind of Jordan from the Key & Peele days, and I remember putting him on my ‘One day I’ll work with…’ list.” <<