‘Malcolm & Marie’ found inspiration from pandemic lockdown

25th Critics Choice Awards – Arrivals – Santa Monica, California, U.S., January 12, 2020 – Zendaya. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/File Photo

By Jill Serjeant

American singer and actress Zendaya says she has never yet forgotten to thank a loved one at a big event – and is certainly not likely to after making the intimate “Malcolm & Marie.”

Zendaya, 24, whose work on the young adult drama “Euphoria” made her the youngest woman to win a best actress Emmy, stars with John David Washington in the film arriving on Netflix on Friday.

The couple play a rising filmmaker (Malcolm) and his girlfriend (Marie) over the course of one tense night after a showbusiness event in which Malcolm forgets to thank Marie for inspiring his movie.

“Now that I have done this movie, I will never make that mistake,” laughed Zendaya.

While the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend the movie industry, “Malcolm & Marie” is a film that would not have been made without it.

Shot last summer entirely in a private home in northern California, it was the first major movie to be conceived and completed entirely under pandemic restrictions, at a time when production, including on “Euphoria,” was shut down.

“I definitely wouldn’t have made this movie under normal circumstances,” said Sam Levinson, the creator of “Euphoria,” who also wrote and directed “Malcolm & Marie.”

“This movie was born out of the idea of, can we tell a story given the restrictions of COVID? Can we get our ‘Euphoria’ family back to work? Can we make a movie that doesn’t compromise in terms of emotional scope, cinematic scope?” he added.

Levinson and the 22 cast and crew became pioneers in establishing testing protocols, social distancing and quarantine procedures that have since become standard for filmmaking in Hollywood.

“I felt like the entire town was watching us… so there was a kind of pressure,” said Washington.

The financing was structured so that all the crew, and the charity Feeding America, would have a cut of any profits.

“The fact that we were able to get back to work at all in any form was hopeful, but it was important that we also take care of other people,” said Zendaya.


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