- Zendaya, known for her heroic roles, expressed a desire to play a villain and tap into evil and supervillain vibes.
- Despite her success as a hero, Zendaya has demonstrated her range by portraying the complex and flawed character of Rue in Euphoria.
- Zendaya’s ability to tap into darker emotions and showcase emotional sincerity has earned her critical acclaim and awards for her performances.
Although Zendaya may be known for playing resilient and valiant figures, the Euphoria lead would like to play another kind of character in the future. First coming into stardom in 2010 through her Disney Channel role as Rocky Blue on Shake It Up, Zendaya has gone on to become one of the most notable figures in Hollywood, earning two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for her performance on Euphoria.
In an interview with Elle (via Variety) conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike, Zendaya answered a range of questions, covering everything from her proudest moment to her comfort meal. When asked to describe a role she would like to play, Zendaya responded, “I would love to play a villain of sorts. Tap into the evil, super villain vibes.” See Zendaya’s full statement and the video below:
“I would love to play a villain of sorts. Tap into the evil, supervillain vibes. Whatever that manifests in, I don’t think necessarily in a superhero sense, I just mean in like an emotional sense. I feel like I usually play the good guy, so I’d like to play the bad guy.”
Zendaya’s Success Playing The Hero (& Anti-Hero)
As Zendaya pointed out, the majority of her successes have stemmed from booking heroic roles. Look no further than her Marvel Cinematic Universe character Michelle Jones-Watson, aka MJ, the witty, resourceful classmate of Peter Parker who helps fend off villains and eventually becomes Peter’s love interest. Zendaya’s latest turn as MJ in Spider-Man: No Way Home perhaps contributed to the 2021 movie grossing over $1.9 billion worldwide. She’s also portrayed the heroic Chani in 2021’s Dune.
On the other hand, Zendaya’s Euphoria character Rue does not align with the traditional heroine archetype as closely as MJ; the high school student’s ongoing battle to overcome substance abuse disorder at times manifests in cruelty toward her loved ones. Yet, perhaps this rawness and fallibility contributes to the unyielding empathy Rue garners from audiences. The emotional sincerity Zendaya gives the character helped land her the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in 2020 and 2022.
One of Euphoria’s most celebrated episodes, season 2, episode 5, sees Rue dismantle friendships, betray her family, and steal valuables in order to fuel her drug addiction. While she was by no means playing an antagonist in this role, Zendaya illustrated that she shines when given the opportunity to tap into darker emotions. If she were to play an emotional type of evil in the future, perhaps she could draw from some of the embittered energy she devotes to Rue.