In the forthcoming relationship drama Malcolm & Marie, Zendaya stars as a young women at the end of the rope of her long-term relationship with her boyfriend (played by Tenet's John David Washington). The film hasn't even dropped yet, but it's already garnered a bit of controversy, specifically where the age gap between its stars is concerned. But Zendaya isn't worried about that particular issue about the film — she's grown now.
Malcolm & Marie follows the boiling point of a tempestuous relationship between partners Marie (Zendaya) and Malcolm (Washington) on what should be one of the happiest nights of their lives. Malcolm, a passionate filmmaker, has just debuted his first feature film and is on top of the world, but as his professional life is on the up and up, his personal life has hit an all time-low. The film sees the couple attempting to broach a bevy of hidden issues plaguing their relationship one argument at a time.
Upon the release of the Netflix film's first trailer, many were excited to add the project to their queues; it's one of the most anticipated projects in the streamer's 2021 film slate. However, the trailer also sparked a conversation about the age gap between the stars of the Sam Levinson's film; Zendaya is 24 years old, and her co-star will be 37 this year. Age gaps in Hollywood aren't exactly uncommon, but this particular pairing isn't sitting right with a lot of people.
The actors have seen the conversation online and aren't necessarily bothered by it. Zendaya actually gets why people might squirm at the idea of her taking on such a mature role — she's spent most of her career playing a teenager. We first met her on the Disney Channel's Shake It Up and really fell for her in titles like Spider-Man: Homecoming and HBO's Euphoria. But even though her recent gigs have required her to play a kid, the actress is a whole adult in real life.
It's important to note that many of the people engaging in this particular discourse haven't always had the same energy for past films that had similar issues; Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper were a full 16 years apart in Silver Linings Playbook, and beloved rom-com classic Pretty Woman cast actors with almost a 20-year age gap to play lovers on camera.
Rather than focusing on the difference in his stars ages, writer and director Levinson hopes that, like relationship dramas of past, viewers will invest in the characters rather than the actors playing them. Given the premise of the Netflix original, it's more likely that the conversation about the actors' age gap will evolve into an internet-wide discourse about how toxic the main characters are. Because, as the trailer demonstrates, they are quite toxic. And that's something to talk about.
Malcolm & Marie will hit Netflix on February 5, 2021.