Malcolm & Marie: Zendaya and John David Washington Discuss the Gray Areas of Love

This week, y’all are gonna finally meet Malcolm & Marie. Buckle up.

This movie is actually the result of an unprecedented circumstance called the coronavirus pandemic, which forced many things to shut down—including the bulk of the Hollywood production industry. One of those productions was HBO’s Euphoria. Like most creatives, such limits can either further bury any creative spark...or fully ignite it. The latter was true for Zendaya and show creator Sam Levinson, who decided to make a COVID-compliant production inspired by a conversation between the two. Thus, Malcolm & Marie was born.


The film’s synopsis via Netflix in a press release sent to The Root:

Writer/Director Sam Levinson teams up with Zendaya and John David Washington for 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.


As the film’s trailer declares, this is not a “love story”—but it is “a story of love.” That may seem like the same damn thing on its surface but if you’ve ever experienced the tussle of a relationship, you’ll immediately recognize the difference between romantic fantasy and romantic reality—even if that reality can look ugly at times.

The film itself is gorgeous, shot in black and white. However, Zendaya and Washington decided to unpack the gray areas of love when I asked them, “What has love taught you?”

“How crucial it is to acknowledge the people in our lives who support us, that feed us creatively, that makes it possible to do what we do,” Zendaya told The Root. “That’s all people really want sometimes, is just to be told ‘thank you’ or ‘I love you.’

“Also, this film deals with the love of film and the love of craft,” John David added. “What love has taught me for what I do is that I’m the luckiest person on planet Earth and you can’t take this for granted. Shooting this during a pandemic, where I didn’t know what the future was going to hold or didn’t know if we were going to be able to do this again.”


This film is sure to be polarizing in many aspects (including that “love of film” Washington hints at—you’ll see!) and one of those aspects is Malcolm and Marie’s relationship itself. It is dramatic, it is gripping, and some may is toxic. In the video above, Zendaya also discusses how conflicted she is with the fictional couple. Check it out!

Malcolm & Marie dramatically drops into your Netflix accounts on Jan. 29.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.