Zendaya Says ‘Challengers’ Ending Can Be ‘Confusing’ After Her Mom ‘Read the Ending So Different’ and Thought Tashi Was ‘Pissed’ Off

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains plot details for “Challengers,” now playing in theaters.

All Tashi Duncan wanted was great tennis. At the end of Luca Guadagnino’s buzzy tennis drama “Challengers,” the camera freezes on Tashi (Zendaya) as she screams “come on!” following a match point volley for the ages between competitors Patrick Zweig (Josh O’Connor) and Art Donaldson (Mike Faist). The volley got so intense that it ends with Art leaping over the net and falling into Patrick’s arms. Is Tashi mortified or elated? Zendaya admitted in an outtake from the actors’ recent interview with The New York Times’ Kyle Buchanan that the ending might be “confusing” to some.

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“My mom read the ending so different,” Zendaya said. “My mom is like, ‘She’s pissed because they realize that they don’t need her anymore.’ I was like, ‘But I smile a little bit at the end!’ My mom was watching it behind me and every time my character does something bad or cheats on her husband or whatever, she’s like, ‘Why do you do that?’ She’s so angry with Tashi, she’s so upset. But it’s interesting, I was like, ‘What? I don’t know where you got that from.’ I’m in the movie and I feel like I have a good sense of what I thought this ending was supposed to be, and she was like, ‘No. This is what it is. So sorry.’

Guadagnino said “I like that reading” of the ending, adding, “Tashi’s a director. She’s like Lermontov in ‘The Red Shoes,’ she makes things happen. And maybe your mom is right, maybe Tashi wants them to find each other … I like what your mom says, because it adds another level that goes beyond our intentions. For me, she smiles at the end, if you’re going to freeze frame.”

Zendaya said that Tashi’s expression is a “yes!” of approval, “but my mom’s like, ‘I saw it differently.'”

“That’s so cool. I really like that read,” added O’Connor. “I think that’s the point, everyone’s got a different perspective on it.”

“Isn’t it so beautiful that we have an open ending that people like?” Guadagnino asked his stars. “Because everybody says, ‘No. Never open ending. You have to know what happens at the end.'”

Faist went on to call the ending “interpretative,” while Zendaya admitted that at the same time it’s “confusing.” Whatever it is, it certainly has moviegoers buzzing. “Challengers” recently topped the box office with a $15 million debut, and it’s completely dominated the conversation on social media.

“Challengers” is now playing in theaters nationwide. Read the team’s full interview with The New York Times here.

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