It’s been hard to get anything productive done during the last few months. And yet, against all odds, Deadline reports that HBO’s Euphoria creator Sam Levinson was somehow able to conceive of and quietly shoot an entire film starring his muse Zendaya under quarantine. Yes, you read that right: Zendaya shot a full on secret movie in the time of COVID-19. Paging, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
The film, Malcolm & Marie, came to life after Levinson was informed in March that production on Euphoria season 2 was put on hold due to the coronavirus. While most people took up puzzles or baking bread when COVID got in the way of their plans, Zendaya called up Levinson and asked if he could write and direct a movie for her to star in during quarantine. Levinson, up for the challenge, came up with Malcolm & Marie in just six (6) days, and cast Tenet’s John David Washington to star opposite Zendaya. While not much is known about the the film, it’s rumored to touch upon some of the same themes as A Marriage Story, so get ready to watch Zendaya and Washington scream at each other about whether New York or LA is better for 2 hours.
If you’re wondering how on earth it’s possible to safely shoot and film a movie under quarantine, the production worked in conjunction with the DGA, WGA, and SAG-AFTRA to ensure a safe workplace environment. The entire film was shot from June 17 to July 2 on location at the LEED Platinum certified environmentally conscious Caterpillar House in Carmel, CA. The cast and crew received multiple coronavirus tests leading up to production, followed by a two-week quarantine/rehearsal period as they awaited clearance to begin shooting. Once cleared to shoot, temperature checks were administered at the beginning and end of each day, time was built into the schedule in order to sanitize the set and props, and only 12 people were allowed on set at the same time. No one was allowed to leave the property for the duration of the project.
The film is currently in post-production. Executive producers for the film include Sam Levinson, his wife Ashley Levinson, Aaron L. Gilbert, Will Greenfield, Zendaya, John David Washington, Yariv Milchan and Michael Schaefer of New Regency, and [checks notes] Kid Cudi, who’s also an investor in the film. Considering the most ambitious thing I have attempted to do during the COVID-19 era is put on jeans (for the record, I have yet to succeed), it’s hard to conceive of how one could possibly come up with and shoot an entire feature film. But, hey, when Zendaya calls and asks you to write her a movie to film under quarantine, you write her a movie to film under quarantine.