Back in 2014, the Black Panther star was nominated for the Academy Award Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave, the same year that Leto was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Dallas Buyers’ Club—and out of numerous photo ops, a copresenting gig at the SAG Awards, and the tabloid press cycle emerged a rumor that, if the two weren’t already dating, they were both, at the very least, interested. “Lupita is totally up for a relationship with Jared!” an overly excited anonymous source told Hollywood Life in 2015, shortly after the actress split from rapper K’Naan, per Jezebel. “Problem is that although Jared loves to flirt, he doesn’t seem interested in taking it further than that.... He says he’ll call, but then weeks and months go by before they see each other at another awards show.” (Around the same time, Leto was also linked to Miley Cyrus; condolences to both Nyong’o and Liam Hemsworth.)
These rumors reached a crescendo in 2015, but even now, according to a new interview with Porter Edit, yes, Nyong’o has Leto, who once referred to her as his “future ex-wife,” on speed dial. “We were on that [Oscar campaign] journey together and he’s so embracing of me,” she tells interviewer Marjon Carlos. “There was an intimacy that grew from that, that goes beyond the dating rumors, beyond all that.”
In the same breath, she cited other Hollywood veterans who welcomed her wholeheartedly after the release of 12 Years a Slave: the film’s director Steve McQueen, of course, and costars Brad Pitt, Sarah Paulson ("My God, that girl, she was like everything to me"), and Alfre Woodard ("She was invaluable"), as well as Gabrielle Union and Oprah, who also got close with Nyong'o's mom and brother. Does she have Oprah on speed dial?