The two never dated, but became close during their 2014 awards season journey when she received praise for her role in 12 Years a Slave and he for Dallas Buyers Club. Nyong'o, 36, opens up about her close friendship with the actor and singer, expressing that they share a special "intimacy" that "goes beyond dating rumors."
“Jared Leto, he’s still on speed dial, because we were on that [Oscar campaign] journey together and he’s so embracing of me,” Nyong'o tells Net-a-Porter in a new interview published on Friday. “There was an intimacy that grew from that, that goes beyond the dating rumors, beyond all that.”
The two were always spotted at awards season events. Leto even gave Nyong'o a special shout-out during his acceptance speech at the Film Independent Spirit Awards in 2014 when he took home the trophy for Best Supporting Actor.
After thanking a slew of people, and making a handful of jokes along the way, he directed his attention to Nyong'o saying, "[To] my future ex-wife, Lupita," adding, "I'm thinking about you."
The two went on to each win Oscars for their respective films in the Supporting Actor and Actress categories.
While the two have remained close since then, the Black Panther star's interview goes further into addressing the people in Hollywood who have helped her along the way.
"Starting with 12 Years a Slave, I was welcomed [in Hollywood] with such warmth. My castmates surrounded me. I don’t know if they are aware of this, but I felt so protected," she began, also adding Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Gabrielle Union, Oprah Winfrey, director Steve McQueen and Brad Pitt.
She also details the life lessons she learned since making it big. Among the things she sees as priorities include, "Now is all that matters," "work harder than you ever thought possible," "embrace your fabulous hair," and "don't let anyone limit you."
"My outlook from very young was that women can do whatever they want," she explains. "I remember a teacher saying, ‘You can’t whistle. You’re a girl,’ and I was like, ‘Yes, I can,’ and I whistled some more. I didn’t understand what he was saying. I was a tomboy. I would climb trees. But it was like, ‘Don’t climb trees. You’re a girl.’ I’m like, ‘But my feet work. Why would I not want to climb a tree?’ I was just raised different."
Up next for Nyong'o, she stars in Jordan Peele's upcoming thriller, Us. Watch the trailer below.