Malcolm & Marie: Zendaya has this to say about her and John David Washington’s 12-year age gap

Malcolm & Marie: Zendaya has this to say about her and John David Washington’s 12-year age gap

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Zendaya and John David Washington star opposite one another in Netflix’s new black-and-white romantic drama, Malcolm & Marie.

We’re calling it now; Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie looks poised to charge headfirst into Oscars territory – and it’s not even out yet.

The latest collaboration between Euphoria creator Sam Levinson and Zendaya, the achingly romantic drama is one of the first – if not the first – films that were shot during the coronavirus pandemic

As per the director’s interview with Deadline, the idea for the project surfaced after Euphoria shut down production, and Levinson felt a responsibility to get his crew back to work. 

“We sort of had to reverse engineer it in a way,” he tells the publication. “And we knew there were certain obstacles we would have to overcome from a pure narrative perspective, so it would [have to] be two actors, one house and the idea [came from] my own life.”

Cue him sitting down with his Emmy award-winning star, Zendaya, casting John David Washington as her onscreen lover, and booking a property in Carmel, aka the only place in California where filming is currently allowed without a permit.

Zendaya and John David Washington star opposite one another in Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie.
Zendaya and John David Washington star opposite one another in Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie.

How did they film Malcolm & Marie during lockdown?

The production on Malcolm & Marie was intense; they had just 22 cast and crew working on the project, nobody was allowed to leave the property, filming took place entirely at night over two weeks, and everyone was instructed to wear gloves, face shields and masks, with a local doctor and nurse visiting for tests.

According to Zendaya, filming Malcolm & Marie in a safe and Covid 19-appropriate fashion was the group’s “number one concern,” and with the creation of a “bubble-like” environment, they were able to get the job done.

“Sometimes when you don’t see the roles that you want, sometimes you gotta be a part of creating them,” she told E! News

“So I’m grateful Sam wrote this movie for us.”

What’s the plot of Malcolm & Marie?

The film 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.

Is Malcolm & Marie based on a true story?

During the film, Malcolm forgets to thank his partner at a premiere – an encounter based on Levinson’s own experience. 

He explains, “I remembered this moment when I was at the premiere for Assassination Nation. It had been a really brutal and intensive process, particularly the editing of that movie which I cut for about a year straight. Over that time, Ash [Levinson’s wife and co-producer, Ashley Levinson] had watched 100 cuts of 100 different versions of that movie, and when we were at the premiere, I forgot to thank her.”

Is there a trailer for Malcolm & Marie?

You can watch the full-length trailer for Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie below:

What have Zendaya and John David Washington said about their onscreen age gap?

Some people have expressed concern over the decision to cast Washington, 36, opposite 24-year-old Zendaya.

Responding to this criticism, Zendaya explains to E! News: “I’ve played a 16-year-old since I was 16.

“You have to remember, also, people grew up with me as a child. It’s like watching, I guess, your younger sibling now, you know, they’re grown. So it’s hard for people to wrap around the idea that I am grown in real life. You know, even though I do play a teenager on television still.”

Washington, meanwhile, tells Variety: “I wasn’t concerned about it because she is a woman. People are going to see in this film how much of a woman she is.”

He added that, while there’s more than a decade between them age-wise, in terms of their careers, he sees her as the elder actor.

“She has far more experience than I do in the industry,” Washington elaborates. 

“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.”

When is Malcolm & Marie coming to Netflix?

The film, which has been tipped for Best Picture, is part of Netflix’s incredible February line-up

It will be available to stream from 5 February.

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Images: Netflix

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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