Zendaya's co-star John David Washington hits back at age difference backlash

13 January 2021, 13:30

Malcolm & Marie | Official Trailer | Netflix

Jazmin Duribe

By Jazmin Duribe

"I wasn’t concerned about it because she is a woman."

John David Washington has addressed the criticism of the 12-year age difference between him and his Malcolm & Marie co-star, Zendaya.

Both John and Zendaya play the title characters and the movie centres on the relationship of Malcom, a filmmaker, and his girlfriend Marie, as their romance undergoes challenges following Malcolm's movie premiere. Malcolm & Marie is written and directed by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, which Zendaya also stars in, and is set to be released on Netflix on February 5.

There's talk of Oscars for both actors already but there has also been discussions about the age difference between the pair (John is 36 and Zendaya is 24). Some have said that they wish an older actress had been cast as Marie, or a younger actor for Malcolm. It's also become part of a wider conversation about how significantly younger actresses are often cast to play the love interests of older actors in Hollywood. For example, Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street (Margot was 23 and Leonardo DiCaprio was 39) and even Scarlett Johansson in Avengers: Age of Ultron (Scarlett was 30 and Mark Ruffalo was 47).

READ MORE: Zendaya becomes youngest star to win Best Actress in a drama at the Emmys

Zendaya's Malcolm & Marie co-star John David Washington hits back at 12-year age difference backlash.
Zendaya's Malcolm & Marie co-star John David Washington hits back at 12-year age difference backlash. Picture: Jim Spellman/WireImage, Netflix

In an interview with Variety, John responded to criticism of the age gap between him and Zendaya. "I wasn’t concerned about it because she is a woman," he explained. "People are going to see in this film how much of a woman she is." And while John might be the son of Hollywood legend Denzel Washington, he admitted that Zendaya, who shot to fame on the Disney Channel in her teens, is much more experienced than he is.

He continued: "She has far more experience than I do in the industry. 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. I appreciated her wisdom and discernment when it comes to this business. I admire that.

"What I’m really excited for people to see when the film is released – they’re going to see how mature she is in this role. We’re talking about versatility, and Sam and Zendaya brought both."