'I Think They're All Fluid': Challengers' Josh O'Connor Talks About Whether The Zendaya Movie Has A Queer Storyline

 Zendaya, Mike Faist and Josh O'Connor in Challengers.
Zendaya, Mike Faist and Josh O'Connor in Challengers.

As anticipation continues to run high for Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers, fans have been speculating about the relationship between Zendaya’s Tashi, Josh O’Connor’s Pat and Mike Faist’s Art. How does the love triangle focused on three tennis players play out? When O’Connor was asked about whether the movie features a queer storyline, he shared his thoughts on one our most highly-anticipated of the 2024 movies.

When speaking to Variety, Josh O’Connor gave his take on Challengers core trio. In his words:

Yeah, I think… they’re all fluid. I think they all kind of love each other and they’re figuring that out and trying to understand where that plays out and how it plays out. So, I don’t know if there’s a clear-cut answer to that but I think that they’re all completely tied, they’re all in, they’re all tied to each other.

Challengers is about longtime best friends and tennis players Patrick and Art who get their lives turned upside down when they meet tennis prodigy Tashi. The movie follows the trio across years, where Tashi and one of the players are married with kids. The movie ultimately leads up to a spicy match up between the best friends after they since become enemies.

Ahead of Challengers hitting theaters next Friday, April 26, critics are raving about Zendaya’s latest movie, with one calling it a “blisteringly sexy” grand slam. When Pride.com’s Daric L. Cottingham wrote about the movie after seeing it, they said this about the queer elements of Challengers:

The tennis love child of Cruel Intentions and Love & Basketball is the best way to describe Luca Guadagnino's Challengers… For those seeking the homoerotica chemistry teased in the trailer, Challengers does not disappoint.

More On Challengers

Zendaya in Challengers.
Zendaya in Challengers.

Venus Williams Showed Up For The LA Premiere Of Tennis Movie Challengers, And Even Zendaya Was A Little Starstruck

Based on what Cottingham and other people who have seen the movie have said, Challengers seems to centrally explore the queer relationship between Art and Pat and how Tashi comes between them over the years. It also sounds like Zendaya actually often takes a backseat as the storyline places the two male players’ complicated relationship at the center.

This shouldn’t come to a surprise for those who follow the director behind Challengers, Luca Guadagnino. The Italian filmmaker famously made the 2017 Best Picture nominee Call Me By Your Name, which follows the romance between a 17-year-old (Timothée Chalamet) and a graduate student (Armie Hammer) in Northern Italy, but he has frequently explored queer sexualities throughout his career.

For example, Guadagnino’s last movie, the 2022 film Bones and All, was touted as a cannibalism movie with a deeper metaphor the LGBTQ+ community can sink their teeth further into. The filmmaker’s next movie is Queer, which is an adaptation of a book of the same name by William S. Burroughs. It will star Daniel Craig as Lee, a man living in 1940s Mexico City after fleeing a drug bust in New Orleans. Lee gets lovestruck with a drug user named Allerton (Drew Starkey), who is a discharged American Navy serviceman. Queer will hit theaters later this year!