Zendaya opens up about ‘intense’ erotic scenes in new tennis drama Challengers

Zendaya has opened up about the sexual scenes in her new romantic drama Challengers.

The actor stars in the forthcoming film, which is directed by Call Me By Your Name’s Luca Guadagnino and is set in the world of professional tennis.

In Challengers, Zendaya plays a tennis prodigy who becomes a coach after suffering a bad injury at a young age. The crux of the film involves a love triangle between Zendaya’s character and two tennis stars, played by The Crown’s Josh O’Connor and West Side Story’s Mike Faist.

Speaking to Elle magazine, Zendaya, 26, was asked about the film’s erotically charged scenes, which the publication describes as “intense”.

“It’s what Luca [Guadagnino] does so well. It’s the things that aren’t. It’s the moments between the moments. Like, chemistry. The things that you can’t always say, but you feel,” she said.

“That is Luca’s specialty when it comes to filmmaking. All the things that aren’t on the page that only someone who’s got the camera can really find.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Zendaya described Challengers as her “first time really being a leading lady, if you will”.

“I felt like it was a good step into a more, I guess you could say, ‘grown-up’ role and into that next phase,” the actor remarked.

“It was a little bit scary to take on, which I think is a good feeling. To be like, ‘Oh, can I do this?’ You could run from that feeling and stay safe and comfortable, or you can go, ‘You know what, f*** it.’”

Zendaya in ‘Challengers’ (MGM)
Zendaya in ‘Challengers’ (MGM)

Guadagnino, meanwhile, praised the Spider-Man: No Way Home star’s “athleticism” in the role, as well as the “way she goes through seduction”.

“Zendaya is a wonderful partner to work with,” he said. “The way she expresses and exudes the power of her athleticism is wonderful, but at the same time, the way she goes through seduction is very beautiful in the film.”

Challengers was originally set to be released in cinemas next month. Due to ongoing strikes by the SAG-AFTRA and WAG actors and writers unions, however, the release date has been pushed back until April 2024.