Zendaya and Josh OConnor Trained with Tennis Pro for Three Months for Luca Guadagninos Challengers

Zendaya spent three months training to move like a tennis pro, and the two-time “Euphoria” Emmy winner is ready to compete in the U.S. Open according to “Challengers” director Luca Guadagnino.

The love-love dramedy stars Zendaya as a tennis player-turned-coach Tashi who oversees her husband Art’s (Mike Faist) career. But when Art winds up on a losing streak, he is forced to play against his childhood best friend and Tashi’s ex-boyfriend, Patrick (Josh O’Connor), igniting a tense love triangle with queer undertones.

“They spent like three months working very hard,” Guadagnino told Variety of the trio of actors. “Everybody – technically, athletically.”

Former professional tennis player Brad Gilbert is a consultant on the film, working with Zendaya, O’Connor, and Faist to teach tennis.

“She’s wonderful,” Guadagnino said of Zendaya’s athleticism in the role. “I mean, wow. We edited the movie, and we almost actually don’t use any of her double. She’s so good.”

Guadagnino previously told IndieWire at the “Bones and All” NYFF premiere that “Challengers” is a portrait of “fucked-up people” caught up in the world of elite tennis.

“I think those three characters in that movie are beautifully complex and really fucked-up people that I love very much. And a sports film, why not?” the “Call Me By Your Name” Oscar winner said. “It’s hyperkinetic, and I do films, so it’s great.”

According to Guadagnino, “Challengers” is his “first comedy,” with production set in Boston. The “a fairly fizzy, sexy” movie is set for an August 11, 2023 release date with United Artists distributing.

In addition to “Challengers,” Zendaya is reprising her role in Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two” opposite frequent Guadagnino collaborator Timothée Chalamet.

“Dune: Part Two” kicked off production in July 2022 in Budapest, Hungary, with the next stop being Italy. Léa Seydoux, Christopher Walken, Austin Butler, and Florence Pugh are also among the new additions to the already star-studded cast. For all the details on “Dune: Part Two,” click here.

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