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Interview: Zendaya, Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist on 'Challengers'.

Interview: Zendaya, Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist on 'Challengers'.

"We say it's 'Codependency: The Movie'..." jokes Zendaya about Luca Guadagnino's highly anticipated new film, 'Challengers', which also stars Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist - with the trio's characters tangled up in a fiercely competitive love triangle that spans their youth and into adulthood.

"I think all three of them are desperate for connection," explains O'Connor about the complicated three-way love affair, which is presented as deeply visceral by Guadagnino, and pumped up by a perfect soundtrack from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Coup De Main met Zendaya, Josh O'Connor, and Mike Faist in Sydney recently to discuss one of this year's best films...

Click here to order our new limited-edition CDM x 'Challengers' zine (i.e. a mini-magazine that folds out into a poster).

COUP DE MAIN: I heard that you've all never been to New Zealand before--
ZENDAYA:
No :(
CDM: Which is sad. So maybe next time / next junket / next movie, maybe?
ZENDAYA:
I'd love that, for sure.
JOSH O'CONNOR: For sure. <nods>
ZENDAYA: I've been told that my Australian accent--
JOSH: Your vibes.
ZENDAYA: Just sounds like a New Zealand accent.
JOSH: Oh!!!
MIKE FAIST: Hmmm...
ZENDAYA: When I tried to do it, they were like: "That does not sound like here, that sounds like there."
CDM: Let's hear your New Zealand accent then...
ZENDAYA:
No, no! Now I'm on the spot, I can't do it, sorry! <laughs>
JOSH: The thing is, when she does a New Zealand accent it sounds Australian.
ZENDAYA: It's a bit of a sticky one.
JOSH: A Catch-22. <chuckles>

CDM: Tashi, Patrick, and Art's lives are so super intertwined with each other. Do you believe in invisible string? That sometimes people are just meant to be in your life forever?
MIKE:
Yeah, I believe in that.
JOSH: That's nice.
ZENDAYA: Yeah, for sure.
JOSH: Definitely.
ZENDAYA: I also believe that even if it's not forever, like that something someone can say to you even if you meet them once, it can stick with you forever - [the] impact of people; that they can have on your life, or change the trajectory of your life, or make you think things and learn things you never thought were possible. And also that some relationships are meant to be for that little period of time, that friendship or that whatever, was meant for that moment where you needed it, or where it was important to you, or it catapulted you into a different part of your life or a new perspective. So yeah, for sure. These people though: they just stuck together, they're like a pair of old iPhone headphones all tangled up!
JOSH: True!

CDM: The ending of the movie feels perfect with its full-circle personification of what Tashi says tennis means to her - that it’s when you perfectly understand each other and it’s kind of like being in love. Is there anything you feel as strongly about like how Tashi feels about tennis?
ZENDAYA:
Dang!
JOSH: Well, mine's ceramics--
ZENDAYA: It is! <nods>
JOSH: Mine's making pots. And I genuinely remember having a conversation with ['Challengers' screenwriter] Justin [Kuritzkes] ages ago, about things that feel like you're in flow.
ZENDAYA: The zone!
MIKE: Mmm...
JOSH: In the zone! And I feel like we get it when we're acting sometimes - when you're just in IT and it's that moment of connection. And that's how I feel throwing a pot; I just feel so <looks peaceful> - it'll probably be a rubbish pot, but I just feel in flow.

CDM: Tennis is everything to Tashi, and Patrick even says to her about Art: "Who is he to you if he's not playing tennis?" Where do you think is a healthy line to draw between being passionate about what you do, but not equating your self-worth to your career?
MIKE:
Hmmm... just exactly that, right? That's the battle - you cannot make your own self-worth that. You cannot define that based off of a job, or not getting a job, or the success of a film. Like what we're doing: we have our lives outside of that and we have to cling to those, and that's kind of the thing that makes it and grounds us all, so we're able to go out and do this.
ZENDAYA: Also, I'm learning--
MIKE: We're all learning, right?
ZENDAYA: Because I've been working since I was a kid, pretty much non-stop. And I'm like, 'Damn, I don't really know how to do anything else.'
MIKE: Do a life, yeah. I know what you mean.
ZENDAYA: Yeah. You're like, 'Damn, okay, do I like other things?' I love that you have your passion, which is ceramics, I think it's so cool. And I was like, I need--
MIKE: Something like that.
ZENDAYA: So that I cannot just be so focused on having to work - 'I have to work and have to work!' - and that there's something else that is just joyful.
JOSH: We're more often than not shooting on location or doing press tours - so much of our job is away from home, but I think that structure of home life gives you a bit of space to find a hobby, or even just really basic things like - I know it sounds ridiculous, but - going and doing a weekly shop.
MIKE: It's a dream!
JOSH: A dream! And that stuff really grounds you.
MIKE: Just cooking a meal at your house!
JOSH: Yeah, and so, so much of our life is away and therefore associated with work, but it's quite hard to split the two.
ZENDAYA: I will say, grocery shopping for me has gotten difficult.
MIKE: I bet.
JOSH: I'm not surprised.
ZENDAYA: And I remember because my life was starting to change a little bit more--
JOSH: It was!
ZENDAYA: When we were shooting, and I remember you guys / everybody was going out and having things. I was like, 'I'm not going to join you because I think it might make your night not so fun...' So I hear you!
MIKE: We would have enjoyed having you regardless.
JOSH: Yeah!
MIKE: Maybe you would have felt a different thing.
ZENDAYA: I would have just been like: <pretends to put hood up and hide>
MIKE: Yeah... [but] we always were like--
ZENDAYA: "You're welcome to come!"
MIKE: Of course!
JOSH: Yeah!
ZENDAYA: I know, I know.
CDM: So... Josh, you're going to have a ceramics line. Zendaya, you're going to buy your own supermarket--
ZENDAYA: So I can be in there just by myself!
CDM: And Mike, you're gonna do some cooking and maybe become a personal chef?
JOSH: There you go!
MIKE: Sure! All right.
JOSH: Why not? Sorted.
MIKE: You get the grocery store <points at Zendaya>--
ZENDAYA: Then you can shop! <points at Mike> And you can make the plates-- <points at Josh>
MIKE: For the thing.
ZENDAYA: Great. Done!
CDM: It's a restaurant now. You guys are literally serving - I love that for you.
ZENDAYA: Serving!
MIKE + JOSH: <crack up with laughter>
JOSH: You love to pun that.
ZENDAYA: LOVE IT! <stands up and pretends to serve a tennis ball>
MIKE: Boom!
ZENDAYA: Again! She doesn't stop!! That's our restaurant name--
JOSH + MIKE: Serving!
JOSH: Oh my god, guys.
ZENDAYA: <points at CDM> Are you in on this? Are we starting a business?!
JOSH: Have we found an investor?
CDM: I'll be a silent partner.
ZENDAYA: HELLO!!!
CDM: In New Zealand?
ZENDAYA: In New Zealand! I love.
MIKE: A New Zealand restaurant?
CDM: We'll open the restaurant in New Zealand.
MIKE: All right.
JOSH: This is great, guys!
CDM: It's a done deal. We'll discuss it more later.
ZENDAYA: Luca can design it - he's an interior designer too.

CDM: Off the top of your head, name two songs each that you'd put on a playlist for your character in the film.
MIKE:
Oh my god.
ZENDAYA: I think it would just be this whole soundtrack--
MIKE: On repeat.
ZENDAYA: The <imitates soundtrack> - I think the music really brings everything to another level, I was so in awe of hearing what they created. It really makes it so special. So I would say, 'Listen to this - I think you can really get the party started with this one.' Every time that first thing hits, I'm like: <shimmies>

CDM: I love that when Luca asked Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to do the soundtrack, he sent them an email describing the film as sexy with six x's. I mean, he's not wrong.
JOSH:
Sexy with six x's? That's good.
ZENDAYA: Yes!
JOSH: That's--
ZENDAYA: <dances> "Sexxxxxxy!"
JOSH: "Sexxxxxxy..."

CDM: Thank you for today! I can't wait to open our restaurant together.
JOSH + MIKE + ZENDAYA:
Yes! Serving!!

'Challengers' is out in New Zealand cinemas from April 18.

 

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