Malcolm & Marie Cast & Character Guide


Two of Hollywood’s hottest young stars heat up the screen in Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie. Here’s who they are and where you’ve seen them before.

Malcolm & Marie, filmed in black and white, centers around a director Malcolm and his actress girlfriend Marie. The film opens with the couple returning home after the successful premiere of Malcolm’s latest movie. As Malcolm basks in his own glory, Marie fails to share his enthusiasm, choosing instead to fume over her boyfriend’s failure to both thank her or acknowledge her as his muse. The evening devolves into a series of explosive arguments exposing deep-seated issues in their relationship.

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The movie generated buzz prior to its release but has received mixed reviews. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association completely overlooked Malcolm & Marie in this year’s early awards season. In particular, Zendaya not receiving a Golden Globes nomination is a noteworthy snub. Some critics praise the actors’ performances, their on-screen chemistry, and Malcolm & Marie‘s intimate, at times voyeuristic exploration of a couple at a crossroads.  Others see it as a series of shallow tantrums and tirades: a watered-down version of the 1966 classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf or 2019’s Marriage Story. Such an emotionally-raw, character-driven movie required fearless performers with enough passion for the script to commit to a project where everyone involved had to adhere to newly-implemented COVID-19 restrictions. A multi-talented Emmy-winning actress and the son of a successful Hollywood actor-director-producer proved up to the task.

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Zendaya As Marie

Zendaya in Malcolm & Marie
Zendaya in Malcolm & Marie

Zendaya plays Marie, a woman who has been relegated to the shadows as Malcolm steps into the spotlight. Marie’s frustration is compounded by the fact that Malcolm’s movie borrows heavily from her real-life struggles with drug addiction. Marie feels unseen and undervalued both personally and professionally. Levinson wrote the part specifically for the 24-year-old actress, who also served as a producer on the film.

Zendaya’s first role was playing Rocky Blue on the Disney Channel sitcom Shake It Up from 2010-2013. Her other TV appearances include K.C. Undercover, The OA, and Black-ish. She currently stars as Rue Bennett in HBO’s Euphoria, a role that earned her a 2020 Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, the youngest actress to ever win the award in that category. Her movie credits include Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Greatest Showman, and Spider-Man: Far from Home. Zendaya has also enjoyed success as a singer, signing with Hollywood Records in 2012. Her debut single “Replay” reached number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

John David Washington As Malcolm

Malcolm & Marie Cast & Character Guide John David Washington

John David Washington, son of Denzel Washington and actress-singer Pauletta Washington, plays ambitious filmmaker Malcolm. Despite his film’s favorable reception, Malcolm becomes obsessed with one review, accusing the reviewer of politicizing his work simply because he’s Black. He’s so self-involved that he fails to realize he’s snubbed Marie, much less how this oversight and general neglect affect her.

Washington, who also served as a producer on Malcolm & Marie, made his film debut in Spike Lee’s 1992 masterpiece Malcolm X, which starred his father in the titular role. He appeared as a series regular from 2015-2019 on HBO’s Ballers, but his breakout role was as police detective Ron Stallworth in another Spike Lee film, BlackKkKlansman, which earned him a 2019 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama. He most recently starred as the Protagonist in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi action thriller Tenet.

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