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John David Washington Just Responded To Criticism Over The Age Difference Between Him And Zendaya In Their Latest Movie

"People are going to see in this film how much of a woman she is."

John David Washington has responded to backlash over his upcoming movie Malcolm & Marie following criticism over the age difference between him and costar Zendaya.

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A trailer for the black-and-white movie, which was reportedly the first to shoot during the coronavirus pandemic after the cast and crew quarantined together last year, dropped recently and was met with a ton of positive reviews.

This is not a love story, this is the story of love. @Zendaya and John David Washington star in MALCOLM & MARIE, coming to Netflix February 5.

Twitter: @strongblacklead

However, others pointed out the age difference between 24-year-old Zendaya and John David Washington, 36, who star as love interests, noting that younger women are often paired with older men in Hollywood movies.

I really hope people realize that no one is saying Zendaya is a bad actress or person for that movie but that the practice of casting younger actresses with men that are older than them is a symptom of bigger problem in Hollywood.

Anyways, my criticism of the film is that Zendaya could’ve gotten a male costar HER age. John almost 40 years old. It’s tiring for me...

Twitter: @westsidemani

The whole thing soon kickstarted a debate, with many jumping in to defend Zendaya.

see how yall praise margot robbie being 22 in the wolf of wallstreet but now say shit like zendaya is too young for malcom and marie???

zendaya is older than margot robbie was in 'the wolf of wallstreet' and keira knightley was in 'pride and prejudice' so if you can't see her play an adult woman, which is exactly what she is, then that's your own issue i think

Twitter: @hollygolightIy

But when asked about it in an interview with Variety, John David Washington didn't seem too bothered by the controversy, saying: "I wasn’t concerned about it because she is a woman. People are going to see in this film how much of a woman she is."

Steven Ferdman / Getty Images

"She has far more experience than I do in the industry," he added. "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. I was leaning on her for a lot."

He went on: "Some of the stories she's shared about what she's had to go through with Twitter and everything. I appreciated her wisdom and discernment when it comes to this business. 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," John concluded. "We're talking about versatility, and [Malcolm & Marie director] Sam [Levinson] and Zendaya brought both."

Netflix

Zendaya has yet to address the backlash, but BuzzFeed News has reached out to reps for the actor for comment.

You can read John David Washington's Variety interview in full here.

Ben Henry is a celebrity reporter for BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.

Contact Ben Henry at ben.henry@buzzfeed.com.

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