“Hot Ones”: Lupita Nyong'o says she’s a Swiftie while attempting to conquer the Spicy Wings of Death

The "A Quiet Place: Day One" star is also afraid of cats

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published June 28, 2024 8:11AM (EDT)

Lupita Nyong’o on “Hot Ones.” (First We Feast)
Lupita Nyong’o on “Hot Ones.” (First We Feast)

Lupita Nyong'o appeared on this week’s episode of “Hot Ones” to discuss everything from her fear of cats to the one Taylor Swift song that helped her overcome a particularly rough time in her life. 

The acclaimed Scream Queen, who is starring in the prequel horror film “A Quiet Place: Day One,” sat down with host Sean Evans to answer some of his most burning questions while taking on a lineup of extra spicy chicken wings. The first five wings were anything but frightful for Nyong'o, although the actor did reveal which movie gave her the spooks.  

“You know, the film that scared me most — it’s not even a horror film — but it’s ‘A Beautiful Mind,’” Nyong'o told Evans. “Oh yeah. I watched that and I thought I was schizophrenic for at least two weeks. … ‘Cause I really believed that he was a spy at the beginning of that movie. And so, when we learned that he was actually just sick in the mind, I felt like I was definitely, probably like him. ‘Cause he was very convincing.”

As for what else gives Nyong'o the heebie-jeebies are cats. The “Us” star had to film “Day One” alongside a cat, which was pretty terrifying for her: “I was very afraid of cats before I took this film and it was one of the things that was holding me back from saying yes.” 

Elsewhere in her chicken-filled interview, Nyong'o recounted the time she reached out to Taylor Swift to ask the pop superstar for permission to use the song “Shake It Off” in one of her movies. When the producers of the 2019 comedy-horror film “Little Monsters” told Nyong’o they weren’t able to get the rights to Swift’s hit tune, Nyong’o decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I decided, OK, I'm going to go, I'm going to make a pitch. I'm going to let Taylor know what this song means to me,” she said.

“When I was working in London on ‘Star Wars,’ I was going through a lot of self-doubt because it was the second thing I had done,” Nyong’o continued. “I was getting a little depressed. My best friend came to London and Taylor had just released ‘Shake It Off,’ and he played it for me to get me into better spirits.”

“We just jumped on my bed and we just danced and danced, and it lifted my spirits."

In “Little Monsters,” Nyong’o stars as Miss Audrey Caroline, a kindergarten teacher who must protect her students from a sudden zombie outbreak. Nyong’o’s character sings “Shake It Off” — which plays a key role in the movie — to the children to keep them calm during moments of crisis.

“Shake It Off” was cleared to be in the movie after Nyong’o told Swift the story about how the song “lifted me from an almost depression.”

Want more great food writing and recipes? Subscribe to Salon Food's newsletter, The Bite.

“I haven't actually seen her since to thank her for it,” she admitted.

By the end of her interview, Nyong’o couldn’t contain her tears as she struggled to eat a chicken wing slathered in Da Bomb hot sauce.

“If I’m ever playing a bats**t crazy person, I’m going to have to take that with me,” the actor said of the killer sauce. “That’s going to be on my rider.”

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Food Hot Ones Lupita Nyong'o Recap Sean Evans Spicy Wings Of Death Swiftie Taylor Swift