Lupita Nyong’o tells PEOPLE her mother will probably not be watching her new horror movie Us a second time

By Kara Warner
March 22, 2019 10:40 AM

Lupita Nyong’o’s mother will always be her daughter’s number one fan — even if it sometimes scares her.

Nyong’o, 36, tells PEOPLE that her mother Dorothy’s steadfast support was recently tested at the premiere of Nyongo’s new horror movie Us, in which the Oscar winner plays Adelaide, a traumatized mother whose family is terrorized by deadly doppelgängers.

“My mom just came to the premiere of Us and Little Monsters the next day. She [had not seen] Us, so she sat in the audience,” Nyongo’o explains. “She hates scary movies, so she shut her eyes the whole time and blocked her ears.”

“I’m happy she was there, I can assure you that’s not her favorite film of mine,” she adds with a laugh. “But, she is supportive until the day she dies. She will sit through despite the fact that she doesn’t have the spine for it. That kind of thing warms my heart because I know she’s my number one fan whether she can handle my madness or not.”

Lupita Nyong’o in Us
| Credit: Claudette Barius/Universal Pictures

For more on Lupita Nyong’o and her new movie Us, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.

Us marks Nyong’o’s first foray into horror, a leap she says she was eager to make for both the acting challenge it provided in playing two characters — and to work with writer/director Jordan Peele (Get Out).

“I was really taken by how stressful the description was,” she says. “It was the first horror film that I’d read and I could sense the horror and potential for experiencing it visually from his writing of it and just how from reading it that it was more than met the eye.”

Twitter's #SheInspiresMe Brunch During SXSW At #TwitterHouse On March 8, 2019 In Austin, Texas
Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty

Another aspect of making Us that excited Nyongo’o was developing different movement styles for both of her characters.

“Fitness is always a part a part of my experience of working on a film. But for this one I actually got to do ballet,” she says. “Adelaide Wilson has a background of a dancer. I was keen to have her, and of course Jordan was too, to have her still have her residue as a dancer. When you meet retired dancers they still have that physical quality to them. I took ballet lessons for awhile, I had these two great ballet teachers both in New York and in LA. That was very, very difficult,” Nyong’o admits.

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“Ballerinas are stronger than people think they are, in order to seem as elevated and light as they come across they have to be very rooted to the ground and they have an incredible sense of space both front and back. That was really fascinating to learn and experience.”

Us opens in theaters Friday, March 22.