Josh O’Connor Says Filming ‘Challengers’ Threesome With Zendaya and Mike Faist Was ‘Fairly Organic’

“There is an element of improvisation with it,” the actor says of the scene that’s been a cornerstone of the film’s marketing

"Challengers"
"Challengers" (Credit: Courtesy of Amazon MGM Studios)

The tennis-meets-love triangle film “Challengers” will be released in April, but ever since the first trailer hit viewers have been curious about how far the film’s threesome at its center will go in the sexually charged movie. The film stars Zendaya, Josh O’Connor, and Mike Faist as a trio of tennis pros who have an overlapping romantic past. One scene in particular features all three sharing an intimate experience, something that O’Connor described as “fairly organic” in the filming process.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, “The Durrells in Corfu” star explained that the three stars worked together to bring “Call Me by Your Name” director Luca Guadagnino’s vision to life.

“Luca had a very clear idea of what happens on the bed. The idea of me and Mike, with Zendaya in the middle—this idea that it’s kissing, kissing, and then it turns into this three-way kiss—and then suddenly Mike and I are kissing. That was very clear.”

O’Connor continued, “We all kind of figured out, how are we going to do this? How does this work There is an element of improvisation with it. It was fairly organic.”

The “Crown” actor added, “We did little things, like, when they’re sitting on the floor and she goes onto the bed, I was up in a flash and not holding back. That came from us knowing our characters well, and knowing the dynamics between the three of us.”

Guadagnino is known for crafting sensual films that avoid feeling exploitative, from 2015’s “A Bigger Splash” to 2017’s Timothee Chalamet-Armie Hammer romance “Call Me by Your Name,” but the trailers for “Challengers” put the eroticism front and center in this romance.

But for the story to feel authentic, O’Connor was tasked with doing one thing he’d never done before: go to the gym.

Ahead of production, he admitted to never having stepped foot in a gym, but soon found out doing so would be mandatory. O’Connor said, “We did three or four weeks of: two hours in the morning, tennis; two hours gym; rehearsal every day. I was forced into going to the gym. There was no option.”

“And apart from the fact that I felt amazing, I suddenly had all this regret from when I was a kid — if only I’d discovered the gym earlier, maybe I could have been an athlete,” he added.

Unfortunately, he continued, he didn’t keep the habit after filming concluded and was surprised to see himself when he watched “Challengers.”

“I’ve now learned that you can’t just go to the gym for three months and then stop and it’ll be there forever,” he said. “So that was a good, late lesson for me to learn.”

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