Zendaya on Why She Has Been “Nervous” About ‘Challengers’

Zendaya briefly opened up about how she has been “nervous” leading up to the release of Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers.

The Emmy-winning actress took to Instagram to share a carousel of photos and videos behind the scenes of her upcoming film with her co-stars, Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor.

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“This is my first time leading a film in this way so ya girls been nervous but everyones excitement and encouragement has meant the world to me,” she captioned the Instagram post. “I’m so honored that I get to do this beside these incredibly talented, brilliant (and hilarious) people and on behalf of all of us, we hope you enjoy the film and again…try not to judge the characters too much lol but also #teamtashi.”

The carousel included videos of Zendaya working out with a bouncy ball and training on a tennis court, O’Connor flipping a plastic water bottle and trying to get it to land upright, and Faist in hair and makeup. The final video sees O’Connor and Faist kissing a tennis racquet with Zendaya’s wig from the movie, seemingly referencing the scene from the trailer that went viral of their characters both kissing her.

Perhaps most known for her role as Rue Bennett in Euphoria, Zendaya has been landing major film projects in recent years, including Dune and Dune: Part Two. The actress revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that, before beginning production on Challengers, she asked Dune co-star Timothée Chalamet for advice about working with Guadagnino. (The director helmed one of the actor’s breakout roles in Call Me by Your Name.)

“He said wonderful things,” Zendaya told THR. “Luca is brilliant, and I’ve wanted to work with Luca for a very long time, and this just seemed like the absolute perfect thing. When we first met about the script he had such a keen, deep understanding of the characters from the beginning and a clearer idea of the kind of movie he wanted to create. And the script was brilliant, [writer] Justin Kuritzkes is so talented and I’m so happy for him. So it all made sense.”

The film, which Zendaya also produces, follows her character, Tashi, a tennis-pro-turned-coach, who transforms her husband, Art (Faist), from a mediocre player to a world-famous grand slam champion. When he enters a losing streak, she arranges a challenger event — one of the lowest-level tournaments in tennis — between Art and Patrick (O’Connor), her husband’s former best friend and Tashi’s ex-boyfriend.

Challengers hits theaters April 26.

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