Malcolm & Marie, the new drama from Euphoria creator Sam Levinson that was carefully filmed mid-pandemic, is out next month. The new Netflix original focuses on a couple, played by Zendaya and John David Washington, as they descend into a revelatory argument following their attendance at a movie premiere.
But that wasn't the first idea Levinson ran by Zendaya when the two were pondering a way to make art together during quarantine. In a new interview with Hunter Harris for GQ published Monday, Zendaya revealed her Euphoria collaborator's original plan for a "meta-Disney" horror project.
Per the interview, Zendaya initially had the idea of making a movie "within the confines" of the pandemic era, though she didn't come to Levinson with a specific angle. Levinson, however, was apparently stoked on an idea focused on the history-making Emmy winner's K.C. Undercover days.
"I was just on the pavement outside in my backyard because I didn't have outdoor furniture yet, talking to Sam," Zendaya said. "He's like, 'What if we did something almost like a horror movie where you've lost it because you still think you're on K.C. Undercover? You could be in the house like dah, dah, dah, and you're still stuck being this Disney Channel actress, and people are like, ‘No. You're not K.C. [anymore].'"
As part of Levinson's usual creative process, Zendaya explained, she was next introduced to an idea that ultimately grew into Malcolm & Marie. The informal pitch, in short, was "What if it's just a relationship piece?" From there, Zendaya expressed her approval of this avenue, prompting Levinson to kick off the writing.
The differences between the characters of Euphoria's Rue and the film's Marie allowed Zendaya to explore a new facet of her art. The character was also a far more fully developed part than the roles she's been turning down in recent years, a litany of offers that often handled women characters as mere accessories to the journey of the male lead.
"[Those projects] would have been great and it would have been fine, but I wouldn't have grown at all," Zendaya said.
The full interview, which also sees Zendaya reflecting on her Emmy win and how else she's spent her time during the pandemic era, is available here and complemented by photography from Tyrell Hampton.
GQ also got Zendaya to participate in an episode of their "Undercover" series, which sees artists responding to questions on social media and accuracy-checking their Wiki pages:
Malcolm & Marie is out Feb. 5 on Netflix. Revisit the trailer below: