Zendaya just opened up about those Challengers sex scenes

The actress feels "lucky" to have such "lovely" co-stars

Mike Faist, Zendaya and Josh O'Connor attends the "Challengers" Photocall at Claridges Hotel on April 11, 2024 in London, England.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Challengers is the must-watch film of the moment, with a powerhouse cast led by Zendaya. The movie blends the worlds of sport and romance—not to mention a killer Tenniscore wardrobe—exploring its protagonist's relationship with two men who are both friends and tennis rivals. 

It's not often that we see tennis depicted in Hollywood films—and the fact that this one has an erotic twist means it's a whole new niche entirely. It's no secret that things get pretty steamy in Challengers (you've probably seen the film still of the three central characters perched on a bed doing the rounds on social media). During this scene (spoiler alert!), the characters share a three-way kiss during one of the most talked-about moments of the film. 

Written by playwright and novelist Justin Kuritzkes, Challengers tells the story of Tashi, a professional tennis player-turned-coach embroiled in a love triangle with her husband and another man. Zendaya has opened up about how she feels she got "lucky" working with co-stars Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor, particularly in terms of the closeness the trio had to portray on screen.

"How do you build the chemistry? Well, I think I got lucky that they're both just lovely guys," Zendaya explained in a recent interview with The Sun. "They were kind and generous with their work and their time, so that made it easy."

Award-winning actress Zendaya went on to say that the film has been an "emotional rollercoaster" and encourages viewers to keep an open mind when it comes to the characters and their journey. "Try not to judge them too much," she continued in the interview. "Because, ultimately, when you come back—and hopefully you decide to watch it again—your opinions will change and your ideas of them will change. There’s a messiness and a humanity to them. 

"We’re people, we make mistakes. So you’ll judge them, you’ll have an opinion, you’ll come back and it will change, and then it will change again and then again."

It's not director Luca Guadagnino's first rodeo when it comes to building erotic tension, with 2017's Call Me By Your Name charged with forbidden lust and more recently in 2022 Bones And All. This cannibal-romance hybrid somehow manages to bring soft and sexy elements to its disturbing subject matter. 

Challengers has received high praise for its racy scenes. Film critic Wendy Ide calls it an "absurdly sexy movie" writing for the Guardian before declaring "It’s so much fun that it’s practically indecent".

Zendaya has also spoken about the importance of safety while filming sex scenes, with the cast turning to an intimacy coordinator to help them navigate any roadblocks when it comes to portraying intimacy and feel more at ease. 

"We had an intimacy coordinator which was fantastic and very helpful because it was important that we felt safe," Zendaya explained during a promotional appearance in Rome (via The Hollywood Reporter).

She then went on to say, "I spoke with my colleagues so that we could find a way to feel at ease. We played tennis together, we went out together, we rehearsed together. We got to bond and feel good with each other."

Curious to know more? You can watch the trailer for Challengers below. 

Challengers is showing in UK cinemas now.

Lauren is the former Deputy Digital Editor at woman&home and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren has bylines in publications such as Marie Claire UK, Red Magazine, House of Coco, women&home, GoodTo, Woman's Own and Woman magazine.

She started writing for national papers and magazines at Medavia news agency, before landing a job in London working as a lifestyle assistant and covers everything from fashion and celebrity style to beauty and careers.