John David Washington has addressed the prominent age gap between him and his Malcolm and Marie co-star Zendaya.
Malcolm & Marie, a black-and-white drama which was shot during the coronavirus lockdown and directed by Sam Levinson, tells the story of a filmmaker who returns home with his girlfriend following a celebratory movie premiere as he awaits what’s sure to be an imminent critical and financial success. “The evening suddenly takes a turn as revelations about their relationships begin to surface, testing the strength of their love,” the synopsis reads.
While some criticism has been voiced about the decision to cast Washington, 36, opposite Zendaya, 24, the actor has dismissed any concern, stating: “I wasn’t concerned about it because she is a woman,” Washington said in an interview with Variety. “People are going to see in this film how much of a woman she is. She has far more experience than I do in the industry,” he added.
“I’ve only been in it for seven years. She’s been in it longer, so I’m learning from her. I’m the rookie. I was leaning on her for a lot. Some of the stories she’s shared about what she’s had to go through with Twitter and everything.”
Washington’s co-star, Zendaya, has been discussing the new Netflix film after the project allowed her to team back up with Euphoria creator Sam Levinson. For the young actor, the film offered an opportunity too good to turn down: “I’m grateful that [Levinson] listens to me, because sometimes you can feel like people don’t listen to you, or people don’t take your opinions,” she said in a recent Q&A.
She continued: “Especially being a young woman in this industry, a young Black woman in this industry, your opinion is not taken as seriously. Or maybe I don’t have the knowledge of film or the time or the experience, or whatever the case may be. But I’ve never felt that, not from day one with Sam. I always felt like my creativity and what I had to say definitely mattered inside the work, and I think this is like an example of that.
“Being able to have a creative partner that you can talk to, and go back and forth with, and there is no bad idea – and that’s why it was something I wanted to do so badly, because I never have had that experience as an adult, to be able to do something with that much dialogue and that much conversation involved.”
Zendaya, discussing the creative process behind the film in the Q&A, added: “[Levinson] had this brilliant idea that now that is Malcolm & Marie, and as soon as he talked about stripping things back and possibly shooting it in black and white, trying to create a skeleton crew.”
Levinson, adding his own thoughts on the film’s concept, added: “I needed a catalyst for it: What’s a really terrible thing a person can do to their partner? Here’s the truth: I forgot to thank [Ashley Levinson, his wife] at the premiere of Assassination Nation, which was a brutal film to edit, and she was upset. I felt very guilty about it.
“Supposedly, we only talked about it on the car ride home. In my head, I imagined we’d had 1,000 conversations about it. I took that as the catalyst for this piece.”
See the full trailer, below.