Despite many films being postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis, that didn’t stop Zendaya and John David Washington from filming an entire film during it. Malcolm & Marie was announced in June 2020 and director Sam Levinson wrote the screenplay in six days.
Reports from Deadline suggest that Zendaya reached out to Levinson to see if they could film during lockdown. Before the pandemic, Zendaya and Levinson were both involved in the HBO show Euphoria, but production was stopped. It only took Levinson a week to agree, set up a plan for filming and help to finance the film. Malcolm & Marie started production on June 17 and finished on July 2.
Little is known about the film, but Zendaya released a steamy still on social media showing her leaning over to kiss Washington with the caption Malcom & Marie. Zendaya and Washington are two rising stars in Hollywood, with Zendaya starring in the epic Dune later this year, and Washington starring in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet released next month.
All production was planned with guidance from doctors, lawyers and various acting and directing guilds’ guidelines to ensure that safety protocols were in place. Malcolm & Marie was shot at Caterpillar House – an environmentally conscious ranch in California that provided both the aesthetic and safe wide spaces for the film.
To ensure health and safety, the cast and crew took several COVID-19 tests and quarantined in Monterey for two weeks before filming. They were not allowed to leave to see their families, and had separate places to live in. Everyone on set had their temperature taken twice a day, rehearsed in the parking lot, wore masks, and ate meals made by a chef who’d been quarantined with them. On set, only 12 or less people were allowed at a time and protective equipment was worn around each other to ensure maximum safety.
Social media went crazy when Zendaya announced the film and fans are predicting both success and awards for the film.
There is no trailer for the film and no current release date yet, but with the fast production it is assumed the release will be in 2020. Malcolm & Marie could be a glimmer of hope for the future of cinema and gives Hollywood an idea of how to ensure film and TV aren’t halted just because of a pandemic.
Words by Charlie Vogelsang