Malcolm & Marie: Zendaya and John David Washington spark age difference debate after Netflix trailer

Viewers are divided over 12-year age gap between the film’s co-stars

Annabel Nugent
Saturday 09 January 2021 11:32
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Malcolm & Marie Trailer

The new trailer for Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie has sparked debate among viewers over the age gap between its actors.

The forthcoming movie stars Euphoria’s Zendaya and Tenet’s John David Washington in an “achingly romantic drama”.

Reacting to the film’s trailer – which was released yesterday (9 January) – some viewers have voiced their skepticism about the film's casting, with many pointing out that Washington, 36, is 12 years older than his co-star Zendaya, who is 24.

“I really like Zendaya but I do wish they’d cast someone older than her for Marie. There’s a 12-year age difference between Zendaya and John, and… maybe that’s part of the story, too. But…” wrote one user on Twitter.

Other users called the age difference “STARK”, “uncomfortable” and “disturbing”. Another said that it “makes me glitch a little”.

“The age difference is really creepy,” added a third commentator.

Many critics noted that their issue with the movie’s casting is that Zendaya’s most prominent roles see the actor play a high school student, as in HBO’s hit series Euphoria and Marvel’s Spider-Man franchise.

“Zendaya literally still plays teenagers on screen, now I gotta see her with a grown man, it’s so weird,” wrote one user.

“Listen, my issue is that Zendaya has ONLY played teenagers,” added another person. “So to see the gear shift of her playing her age would be fine considering if her opposite wasn’t 12 years her elder.”

There is an equal amount of defence for the casting, however, with a number of viewers arguing that, at 24 years old, Zendaya is a “grown woman”.

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“I’d understand the ruckus [...] if she was like 18 but she’s pushing 25,” said one user, while another added: “Zendaya is a terrific actress and a 12 year age difference for ACTING PARTNERS is completely normal!”

“They are both very much adults… Y’all are overreacting,” wrote a third commentator. Others echoed the same sentiment, stating: “Zendaya and John David Washington are both grown adults I’m already tired of this age gap discourse.”

The film, by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, was shot during the lockdown period and adhered to pandemic filming guidelines.

Malcolm & Marie will be released on Netflix on 5 February.

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