John David Washington says critics of the age gap between him and Zendaya in their new movie will see 'how much of a woman she is'

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SBIFFJohn David Washington at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival
  • John David Washington told Variety that he wasn’t worried about the 12-year age gap between him and his “Malcolm and Marie” costar, Zendaya, which some people have criticised.
  • Washington said that he was the “rookie” on set because Zendaya has starred in more TV shows and films.
  • He said: “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.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

John David Washington has addressed the controversy surrounding the 12-year age gap between him and his “Malcolm and Marie” co-star Zendaya.

During a new interview with Variety, the 36-year-old actor said he “wasn’t concerned” about the large age difference because Zendaya, 24, “is a woman.”

He said: “I wasn’t concerned about it because she is a woman. People are going to see in this film how much of a woman she is. 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.”

Malcolm & MarieZendayaA still from ‘Malcolm & Marie’ shared by Zendaya on social media.

He later continued: “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.”

“Malcolm and Marie” was written and directed by Zendaya’s “Euphoria” collaborator Sam Levinson. The film, which was shot entirely in quarantine with a small crew, follows the pair as they try to work through their strained, volatile marriage.

The first official trailer for the film was released last week by Netflix and some viewers quickly raised their concerns surrounding the age gap between the two actors. In response to the trailer, one Twitter user said: “Excited about Malcolm and Marie, but also uncomfortable by the vast age difference btw jdw and zendaya.”

However, other viewers noted that in the past actors around the same age as Zendaya have played opposite older men and there was no backlash.

One user tweeted: “didn’t Jennifer Lawrence win an Oscar for playing an older woman, and was often cast amongst older men (and playing older roles) in her early career?? WHY tf can’t Zendaya play her own age in Malcolm & Marie, she is 24 years old…not 12. The outrage is weird.”

“Malcolm and Marie” is currently set for an early February release on Netflix, and both Zendaya and Washington are already gaining awards attention for their performances. The pair are also both producers on the film.

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