Addressing the controversy, Washington told Variety he wasn’t worried about the 12-year age gap because of how experienced Zendaya is.
“I wasn’t concerned about it because she is a woman,” he said. “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. 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.”
He added that he was “leaning on her for a lot” and pointed to the comments she has previously shared about her experiences in the entertainment industry.
In an interview with Paper magazine in 2019, Zendaya, who is also a singer, said: “I think the [music] industry takes a little bit of passion away from you. It sucks you dry a little bit… If anyone asks my number one advice, for [the entertainment] industry in general but mostly the music industry, it’s look over those contracts, every single word, and don’t sign anything that isn’t worth it to you. You are worth more than they will say that you are.”
“I appreciated her wisdom and discernment when it comes to this business,” Washington said. “I admire that. What I’m really excited for people to see when the film is released – they’re going to see how mature she is in this role. We’re talking about versatility.”
Malcolm & Marie will be released on Netflix on 5 February.