John David Washington Talks Criticism of Age Difference with Malcolm & Marie Co-Star Zendaya

John David Washington isn't "concerned" about criticism over the 12-year age difference between himself and his Malcolm & Marie costar, Zendaya, because he is, in fact, the one "learning from her."

In a recent interview with Variety, the 36-year-old actor and son of Denzel Washington said of Zendaya, 24, "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," Washington admitteded. "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."

Washington continued on to say that he had been "leaning on" Zendaya — who had her breakout role in 2010 as Rocky Blue on Disney Channel's Shake It Up — "for a lot."

"Some of the stories she's shared about what she's had to go through with Twitter and everything," he said. "I appreciated her wisdom and discernment when it comes to this business. I admire that."

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And what Washington is "really excited for people to see when the film is released," he told Variety, is "how mature she is in this role."

"We're talking about versatility, and [director Sam Levinson] and Zendaya brought both," he noted.

Washington and Zendaya secretly shot Malcolm & Marie during the COVID-19 pandemic between June 17 and July 2 at the Caterpillar House, an environmentally conscious ranch in California. All filming was reportedly done with various acting and directing guilds' guidelines and coronavirus safety protocols in place.

And it was a process Washington tells Variety he "felt comfortable" and "safe" during.

"I felt the need to do this so much that I was willing to risk it," he said. "Everybody had their own cabin; we had to get tested before we got there. We got tested when we got there. And then we tested a day before we checked in. Nobody was on the ranch except for us. So as long as nobody left the facility, I felt safe."

The plot of Malcolm & Marie sees its two stars explore the different facets of being in love.

The trailer, which dropped Friday, begins with Malcolm (Washington) and Marie (Zendaya) returning home from a film premiere, and launching into an argument as they wait for the reviews of his movie.

While it's clear Malcolm and Marie are in love, they both grapple with what that means and how a committed relationship works throughout the powerful trailer.

"You are by far the most excruciating, difficult, stubbornly obnoxious woman I've ever met in my entire life. I f—— love you," Malcolm tells Marie at the beginning of the trailer, setting the tone for the rest of the rollercoaster argument.

Malcolm & Marie lands on Netflix Feb. 5.

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