Game, set and match: the Challengers team unveils its film

Game, set and match: the Challengers team unveils its film

A few days before the release, on April 24, Luca Guadagnino, Zendaya, Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist gave us behind the scenes of Challengers, from the conception of the film to the chemistry between the actors, including the costumes and the music.

Stopover on their highly publicized promotional tour, the French capital welcomed the team of Challengers time for a press conference. Between the walls of the very chic Hôtel Crillon, Zendaya, Josh O'Connor, Mike Faist and their director, Luca Guadagninotook the time to return to certain characteristics of the film already made iconic by a press-tower widely relayed on social networks, and of which Zendaya proved to be the darling. A movie fashionyes, but not only: Challengers has many aspects to show us according to his team.

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The game's rules

Challengers is not a simple transcription of a tennis match. The film itself is constructed like a game. Luca Guadagnino says it himself: “We had to really invest ourselves in the game. It was the most important thing: the game of life, the game of competition, challenge and seduction. And finally, friendship too, I would say”.

“When you watch a tennis match (…), it’s a very objective experiencehe continues. I thought about making it something very subjective. For me, the immediate idea was to be able to be inside the game. But being inside the game also means being inside the game with them, with these characters. So I think performance also drives a lot of what the camera does.”

For Mike Faist, the principle was clear. The actors were pawns on the chessboard on the film set, with Luca Guadagnino and Justin Kuritzkes being the real masters of the game:

“It's just about moving around, being present, staying open, listening and responding, and then trusting Luca, of course, to make the edit work and do his job, and then to support Justin and the wonderful work he had already done for us,” he declares.

A game of sleight of hand

As the director describes them, Tashi, Art and Patrick are three “emotionally charged characters”. “I mean there's nothing better than people who are messy, who don't know what they should do in their life and do it anyway,” says Guadagnino.

Three strong and intense personalities therefore, who do not necessarily resemble their interpreters. According to Josh O'Connor: “We play characters far from ourselves, which is always exciting and challenging.” A challenge for the actors, which was added to that of playing the three peaks of a love triangle. The actor returns to the inextricable bond that unites these best friends-enemies, in parallel with the one that links them to sport:

“They are all obsessed with each other. But they are also obsessed with tennis. (…) At the beginning of the film, you have three characters (…) who have a love, a desire and a passion for each other and for a sport, which they end up losing. So for me the whole film is about each of them trying to find what they lost.”

Luca Guadagnino goes further on the notion of a love triangle, which according to him, is based on a primordial balance:

“I think in every love triangle and in every relationship where jealousy is at play, the triangle needs to touch every corner, and the jealousy needs to be directed in all directions, not just one. For me, it was therefore important not to tell the story of two men trying to conquer the same woman. It’s about three people who meet chemically and can no longer be separated.”

It was Zendaya who named Luca Guadagnino, Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist for Challengers

Behind the scenes of the match:

Unlike their characters, Zendaya, Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist got along very well, despite the physical efforts required of them to prepare for the filming of Challengers.

“We went to summer camp, as I call itsays Zendaya. In fact, we got up, we worked on our tennis together. We were all in the same boat. Then we had to go to the gym together, and we built a real support system. And then we rehearsed together, and we had to share our space, talk about these characters, discuss their personal feelings and what we felt, our own points of view. We were able to take the time to explore the question, to feel supported.”

According to the actress-producer, the fictional and real trio are the polar opposites of each other. Far from the toxicity of Tashi, Art and Patrick, she confides:

“I felt good. I felt safe. And that's what it takes to play such messy characters. Between scenes, we could laugh and have a good time, while these characters would be constantly clashing.”

Men's doubles

As Zendaya already revealed on the cover of Vogue, it was she who suggested the name Luca Guadagnino after agreeing to produce the project. However, she was far from imagining that this proposal would lead the director of Call Me by Your Name to begin a prolific artistic collaboration with Justin Kuritzkesthe screenwriter of Challengers.

For Guadagnino, it all started with the script: “The script was brilliant, he professes. And a good script is one that promises a lot and keeps all the promises within itself, because when you read it, you know there's potential.”.

“With Justin, we bonded a lot. And then we never left each other, even today,” he even declares, smiling. And indeed, Justin Kuritzkes and Luca Guadagnino are working together on a new film. Titled Queerthis project will be an adaptation of the homonymous novel by William S. Burroughswhich depicts the complex and obsessive relationship of a couple of young men.

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The job suit

The visual identity of Challengers partly through the costumes. They were designed by Jonathan Anderson, the creative director of the luxury brand LOEWE, which Zendaya was able to highlight several times during the promotional tour. Fashion icon, the young actress could only appreciate this artistic choice of the director:

“I obviously think he's iconic and he's created art that we can all enjoyshe says of the designer. It was fun to follow the process in real time, to understand and dig in and find out who these characters are, because we're talking a lot right now about how clothing influences performance and decisions.”

True to herself and to the image she gives on the red carpets, zealously applying the principles of “dressing method”she concludes: “It’s not just clothes. It’s never just clothes”.

Collective sweating

For ChallengersLuca Guadagnino called on a duo of artists he knew well. Trent Reznor And Atticus Ross had in fact already worked on the very ethereal soundtrack of Bones and All. Here, a 180-degree turn: the trailer reveals part of the soundtrack which, with almost electric pulsations, punctuates the actions but also the dialogues of the trio of characters.

The director uses a unique metaphor to explain this choice of sounds:

“When we did a dry edit, without music, just with the cues of the songs we wanted to play, I felt that the film had this sort of… There was a tension in the film that was very fascinating. You know when it's hot, a scorching summer day, and you need to drink something really cool, like a Coca-Cola. There’s something pop that I like about this situation.”

“For me, the metaphor was that the experience (of the film) should be as energizing and captivating as a glass of Coca-Cola on a very hot dayhe continues. Added to this was the idea that when you go to a rave, you don't drink alcohol because you have to take pills (laughs). So I wondered how to make the audience feel like they were at a rave without the pills. I called Trent and Atticus, and I told them we should make some good heavy house music and that should be the driving force of the movie.”

Challengers will be released in theaters on April 24, 2024. Here is the trailer for the film:

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