Lupita Nyong'o talks 'A Quiet Place: Day One,' Chadwick Boseman legacy – USA TODAY

NEW YORK − People won’t shut up about the “Quiet Place” cat.
In the days leading up to “A Quiet Place: Day One” (in theaters Friday), movie fans have flooded social media with concerned posts about the fate of the horror thriller’s feline star, Frodo, who weathers an alien apocalypse with his owner, Sam (Lupita Nyong’o), and her new friend, Eric (Joseph Quinn). Someone “needs to tell me definitively if the cat survives,” film critic Matt Bullions wrote. “If not, I am literally canceling my tickets.”
“I get it,” quips Nyong’o, who adopted a kitty of her own, Yoyo, after making the movie. “The thought that anything would happen to my cat would send me to the grave. What I don’t get is how people could be more invested in the cat than us! That’s hard to take for my ego.
“But, you know, little furry things,” she adds with a laugh. “They steal the scene every time.”
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“Day One” is a prequel to John Krasinski’s 2018 hit “Quiet Place” and its 2021 sequel, both of which starred Emily Blunt as a mom fighting to protect her family from vicious, reptilian creatures that are hypersensitive to noise. This new film follows the melancholy Sam as she takes a day trip into New York, which happens to coincide with the start of the alien invasion. She meets Eric while fleeing monsters, and together they venture toward her old Harlem neighborhood, where she longs to visit the pizza shop and jazz club of her youth.
Despite its metropolis setting, “Day One” tells an even more intimate story than the first two movies. The friendship between Eric and Sam is the bedrock of the film, as they help each other to confront death and reconnect with their past selves.
“We’ve seen disaster movies about military involvement, people trying to rescue a family member or escape the city,” writer/director Michael Sarnoski says. But with Sam, “I wanted a character who didn’t have the same priorities that everyone else would have in this situation. That opened her up to a quieter journey that might be unexpected,” taking audiences “into different emotional territory.”
Nyong’o, 41, first watched Sarnoski’s 2021 film “Pig,” and says she admired how he tells “these visceral stories that have a lot of violence, but there is a tenderness at the heart of it.”
The A-lister is no stranger to intense material, from her Oscar-winning feature film debut in 2013’s “12 Years a Slave” to her chilling dual roles in Jordan Peele’s “Us” in 2019. But “Day One” is brutal in its own way, as Sam dodges debris, swims through flooded subway tunnels, and narrowly escapes getting crushed by a car. Nyong’o also went on a strict diet to appear gaunt (we can’t say why), meaning she had less strength and energy for the movie’s frequently demanding stunts.
“Joe was my support system,” Nyong’o says. “He was very in tune with me in a way that was so sweet and respectful.”
“I was the on-set therapist,” jokes Quinn, 30. “It was extraordinary to watch her navigate this experience. She had to lose a lot of weight and maintain that weight, while also leading this big old blockbuster.”
The actors have since become close friends, squeezing in trips to the pool and Broadway’s “Hell’s Kitchen” during their whirlwind promotional tour. But unlike Sam, their New York jaunt will not include pizza.
“I’m gluten-free and dairy-free,” Nyong’o says with a sigh. “So I don’t know why I’m the spokesperson for pizza!”
“Day One” is the latest project in a career hot streak for Quinn, who broke out as Eddie Munson on Netflix series “Stranger Things” and will appear in Ridley Scott’s upcoming “Gladiator II” and Alex Garland’s “Warfare.” “It came at a time in my life when I benefited from some quiet,” says Quinn, who’s most content when he’s cooking and gardening at home in the U.K. “With the madness in one’s life, it’s important to have something concrete.”
The movie wrestles with poignant themes of acceptance and grief, which also proved healing for Nyong’o. She starred in Marvel’s “Black Panther” with Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 at 43 after a private battle with colon cancer. She shot “Day One” right after the release of “Panther” sequel “Wakanda Forever.”
“In that film, we were grappling with the loss of Chadwick Boseman, which really shook me to my core when it happened,” Nyong’o says. “I have been in a season of thinking about mortality, and this film brought me even closer to almost seeking answers to the questions I’ve been asking with the loss of that friend of mine. It was scary to have to live in that tenuous place making this film; I was afraid to go there. But once I was there, there’s something about knowing you will surely leave this Earth that makes living much more worth doing.
“It’s hard for us as human beings to remember that we are mortal. But it’s good to be reminded of it at key points in your life so you don’t take it for granted. We must remember to meditate on the small pleasures, which is what this film is about – it’s about pizza.”

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