Every Single Thing Lupita Nyong’o Does in Non-Stop

Photography By Myles Aronowitz
Photography By Myles Aronowitz Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Universal Pictures

Can’t get enough of 12 Years a Slave breakout Lupita Nyong’o? This weekend, you’re in luck! Nyong’o will be attending the Academy Awards, of course — where the budding fashion icon’s dress pick is almost as anticipated as her head-to-head matchup with Jennifer Lawrence in the Best Supporting Actress category — but Nyong’o can also be seen in this weekend’s Liam Neeson airplane thriller Non-Stop. Just don’t expect this new role to deliver anything on the level of her devastating 12 Years turn as Patsey: In Non-Stop, which Nyong’o booked after 12 Years but before its attendant hype made her the Next Big Thing, the 30-year-old actress is a glorified extra, delivering most of her lines off-camera (when she has any to deliver at all). Still, because we’re nothing if not comprehensive here at Vulture, we’ve dutifully scribbled down every single thing Lupita Nyong’o does in Non-Stop. You’re welcome.

  • About ten minutes or so into the movie, we get our first glimpse of Lupita as she greets a new flight attendant, played by Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary from Downton!). “Nancy, right?” asks Lupita in a v v cute British accent, while pouring coffee. This frosty, tremulous Nancy chick nods assent and fails to ask Lupita her name in return, which is just rude. IMDb informs me it is “Gwen,” so we’ll go with that.
  • Lupita crosses frame in the foreground of a tracking shot that then stays to linger on Michelle Dockery looking confused. No, no, keep following Lupita, the audience thinks.
  • Lupita and Michelle Dockery walk down the aisles of the airplane in their futuristic flight attendant uniforms, Lupita swinging her hips and striding past those seats like she’s stomping down a Miu Miu runway. Werk.
  • Lupita is shot from behind talking to Michelle Dockery as Liam Neeson walks past them. “Do you know him?” we hear Lupita say, indicating the six-foot-four Irishman. Listen, Lupita, we know you were raised in Kenya on a strict pop cultural diet of Friends marathons and Final Fantasy VIII, but that is Liam Neeson. He is a famous Nazi fighter who finds his daughter a lot. Get into it.
  • Lupita then fails to appear in the film for a good twenty minutes or so while Michelle Dockery continues walking the plane with some rando blond flight attendant. I didn’t catch her name, because Michelle didn’t ask it. Rude.
  • Lupita’s back, and in the deep background of a shot, she’s forcefully pulling shut the curtain that separates business class from the plebes. Such curtain-pulling panache! (Hey, you take what you can get here.)
  • We glimpse the back of Lupita’s head as she asks Michelle Dockery what the hell is going on with this crazy plane. (Hostages! Glowering! Floating text messages! Julianne Moore wearing Martin Scorsese’s super-strength geriatric eyeglasses for some reason! A lot is going on with this crazy plane, is what I’m trying to say. Michelle, as is her wont, just looks concerned and purses her lips.)
  • While Liam Neeson roughs up several character actors, Lupita can be briefly spotted in the background, out of focus.
  • “This is crazy,” Lupita tells Michelle Dockery (whom the camera again favors). “Are we next?” You mean, are you the next person to get a close-up? God willing, Lupita — it’s been at least 40 minutes since we’ve seen your face in the same shot that you’re speaking in.
  • Lupita grabs onto the seat next to her as the plane goes through a bit of turbulence, serving up wobbly Uhura realness.
  • An out-of-focus Lupita can be seen walking down the aisle in slo-mo.
  • I can’t be completely sure of this one, but we hear a voice on the airplane PA system instructing the passengers to keep their belts fastened, and I’m pretty sure it’s Lupita. If so, I believe this is her fourth line in about an hour, and her third delivered off-camera.
  • “Sit down, sir, sit down,” Lupita tells a passenger as Liam Neeson walks past.
  • Lupita follows Michelle Dockery down the aisle, wondering when she’s going to get a meeting with J.J. Abrams for the Star Wars sequel.
  • Lupita watches something on the airplane monitors and looks shocked. I am also shocked that we have finally been blessed with an actual close-up.
  • Lupita cringes as Liam Neeson is attacked near her. Don’t cower, girl! Throw yourself in there and get some screen time!
  • Lupita leaps to her feet, scared by a gun.
  • Another close-up! This time, Lupita looks concerned.
  • Lupita helps a young woman down the aisle. “Did you know that J.J. Abrams is looking to cast a black actress as Obi-Wan Kenobi’s granddaughter?” Lupita very possibly asks this woman — in my head, at least. “Don’t you think I’d be incredible — incredible! — in that?”
  • In a scene that affords her the most screen time yet, Lupita is hanging out in the rear of the plane as most of the men in the cast debate what to do about their Taken Plane. Finally, Lupita weighs in on the dangerous plan. “I can’t believe this,” she trills. “This is crazy.” Thank you for playing, Lupita’s character.
  • We hear Lupita instructing the passengers on what to do with their luggage, though again, we don’t see her onscreen.
  • Lupita crouches down, trying to coax a little girl out of her hiding place on the plane. “You’ve got to come out,” she tells the girl. “I’ll hold your hand.” Liam Neeson comes over to see what the deal is. “I need your help!” Lupita pleads. “She won’t come out.” This is the most dialogue Lupita Nyong’o has in the entire movie.
  • Again, we briefly glimpse Lupita among the people looking concerned and/or cowering from a gun.
  • Back to camera, Lupita gestures to the irate passengers.

(Beware, these last two bits sort of indicate how the movie ends. SPOILERS!)

  • The plane lands — just barely — and passengers start jumping down the emergency evacuation slide. Lupita, of course, throws herself into that jump-and-slide like she was posing for Annie Leibovitz in a cover-try shoot for Vogue. Flawless. Let’s be real, though: If the director had cut away before Lupita Nyong’o went down that giant inflatable slide, I would have thrown popcorn.
  • Just when you think Lupita is gone from the movie for good, she suddenly rushes up to an adorable blond white girl on the tarmac and throws a blanket around her. That will prove to be good stage-rushing practice if another adorable blond white girl takes home the Oscar this Sunday. We’ll see!

And that, friends, is the full extent* of what Lupita Nyong’o does in Non-Stop. The movie will tide you over in a pinch, but if you prefer to see Lupita actually talking (and in focus!), just tune in for the Oscars’ red carpet on Sunday.

*Full disclosure: I took these notes in the dark, and only one of them proved hard to decipher afterwards. As near as I can tell, it says, “Text pass only / Ju promise / tell me by I / hit the floor.” I don’t know if this was a mangled line of Lupita’s that I failed to transcribe correctly, or whether it’s a secret, coded text message that Lupita sent to Michelle Dockery’s stylist on the set of Non-Stop (which reads, when translated, “Dress me for awards / I promise / I can wear jewel tones / better than Lady Mary”). Much like Non-Stop’s incomprehensible plot, we may never get to the bottom of this, and I apologize.

Everything Lupita Nyong’o Does in Non-Stop