John David Washington and Zendaya can’t decide if ‘Malcolm & Marie’ belong together: ‘This is bad’

The stars deliver impressive performances in the Netflix film they produced under quarantine

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John David Washington and Zendaya are quite convincing as a couple in the midst of an epic blowout in Malcolm & Marie, but neither of the actors are quite sure how they feel about the couple they portray. 

The talented pair are the only actors in the black-and-white Netflix film from Sam Levinson that was produced early on in the COVID-19 crisis. Described as an “achingly romantic drama in which a filmmaker (Washington) and his girlfriend (Zendaya) return home following a celebratory movie premiere as he awaits what’s sure to be 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” is a marvel to look at. It’s also a game-changing moment for Zendaya, whose portrayal of a recovering drug addict, Marie, solidifies the fact that she’s a grown woman and a true force in Hollywood.

Even though the 24-year-old actress embodies the complicated character beautifully, even she’s on the fence about whether or not Malcolm, played by Washington, and Marie should be together.

“I’m split just like probably everyone is … I think the beauty of what we do there is — really, the point is to have the conversation; the dialogue and the back and forth, the polarizing aspect of it,” Zendaya told theGrio after the film’s first screening. “I don’t think we’re all supposed to agree. And it’s not supposed to be so black and white. I think it is supposed to be a little bit messy and confusing and conflicting, you know? So like anyone else, I go back and forth.”

Malcolm & Marie (L-R): John David Washington as Malcolm, Zendaya as Marie. Dominic Miller/Netflix © 2021

 Read More: Zendaya on age gap with co-star John David Washington: ‘I’m grown’

“Sometimes I think that they’re great for each other and they’re the only people that truly can deal with each other and see each other and push each other in the right ways,” she continued. “And they just know each other like no one else. And then other days I’m like, this is not how it should work. Like, this is wrong. They need to go to therapy. They need to not be together. They’re codependent. This is bad.”

 “It’s difficult and it’s — and it’s confusing for me as well, and I’ve been able to live with the characters and I’m still learning more about the characters,” Zendaya added. “I think as we do interviews, like I — people point different things out that I maybe didn’t understand or acknowledge.”

Washington seems to be equally unsure about whether or not Malcolm and Marie belong together. 

“It could be healthy for their art, but I don’t know if it’s healthy for their personal life. I really don’t. That being said, is this the only time they’ve gone this far? We’re talking about a snapshot of their relationship,” he said. 

“This could be the worst night they’ve ever had … If this is the biggest fight they’ve ever had, I think maybe they can overcome this,” the 36-year-old actor said. “But if this has been building up, if there has been sort of little, you know, there’s been incremental things leading to this night … then no, I think this is not healthy at all.”

Malcolm & Marie
Malcolm & Marie (L-R): Zendaya as Marie, John David Washington as Malcolm. Dominic Miller/Netflix © 2021

Read More: Zendaya admits pandemic was ‘first time’ discovering identity outside of work

Viewers will likely be equally torn when they watch the film that exposes the dark places we go when love is on the line. Many may be mesmerized by Zendaya’s truly remarkable presence on the screen or frustrated by the director’s thinly-veiled jabs on subject matters he may not be the best source on. Surely everyone will marvel at the gravitas it took for this small crew to pull off this feature under the extreme and uncertain circumstances the lockdown presented. 

“There’s a certain level of responsibility, not only just as a creative, but also as a producer. We’re both producers on this and not just like ‘producers,’ but like actually put our names on it, put our heart in it, put our money into it,” said Zendaya, who also starred in the HBO series created by Levinson Euphoria.

“There were a lot of strict protocols put in place and we were able to kind of make this bubble of people; this production bubble, which once you’re in, you’re in. You can’t go out. We also were able to kind of reconstruct what the equitable model of filmmaking is,” she continues. 

“We had like a real ownership in this film, which I don’t know how many times that’s ever been done before, but it feels like the right way to structure films,” Zendaya said, “that the people who really give their heart and soul and their time into something really get to see the benefit of it. So it was daunting, of course, and scary. But also we worked diligently and everybody who was there wanted to be there.”

Although her performance was snubbed when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced the nominees for the Golden Globe Awards, Zendaya already made an impactful mark on the industry with this project. 

“I’m proud of the movie, but I’m even more proud of how we were actually able to to make it,” she said.

Watch the full interview below:

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