stepping to the bad side

What Type of Villain Should Zendaya Play?

The two-time Emmy-winner recently revealed that she'd like to “tap into the evil, supervillain vibes” for a future project. 
What Type of Villain Should Zendaya Play
Courtesy of HBO/Everett Collection.

Zendaya is ready to step into her villain era. In an interview with Elle conducted pre-SAG strike, the two-time Emmy winner said that she'd be interested in playing darker roles in the future.

“I would love to play a villain of sorts,” she said. “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 has played a range of roles over the course of her career, but has yet to fully step into the dark side. She got her start as a Disney channel star, leading the sitcom Shake It Up. She successfully transitioned from Disney stardom into adulthood by starring in Sam Levinson's HBO drama series Euphoria, becoming the youngest actress ever to win two leading actress in a drama series Emmys for playing the emotionally troubled, yet well intentioned teen addict Rue. On the big screen, she's starred as the smart and snarky MJ, love interest to her off-screen boyfriend Tom Holland's Peter Parker, in Marvel's Spiderman franchise. Perhaps her closest thing to a villain role was playing Marie, an actress in an unhappy marriage with John David Washington's Malcom, in Levinson's heavily panned Malcom and Marie, alhtough the true villain of that film is a film critic.   

Even in her upcoming filmography, Zendaya is mostly relegated to “good” characters.  She's set to reprise her role as Chani, love interest and spiritual guide to Timothee Chalamet's Paul Atreides, in the Denis Villenueve's recently delayed Dune: Part Two.  In the also-delayed tennis drama Challengers directed by Luca Guadagnino, Zendaya plays a “terrible” and "delusional" tennis pro player caught in a love triangle with Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist, but doesn't seem to fully be a villain based on the steamy trailer.   

So, what type of villain should Zendaya play? She could absolutely turn heads as a duplicitous femme fatale—a Bond girl-esque character that might seem initially alluring but ultimately cannot be trusted. It also might be fun to see Zendaya camp it up and play a mean spirited, queen-bee type character in a scathing satire, like Vanessa Williams as Wilehelmina Slater in Ugly Betty. Or perhaps Zendaya, a former recording artist, could break out her musical chops and play the villain in a movie adaptation of a musical, like Aurora in Kiss of the Spiderwoman, ironically another Vanessa Williams role.

Not only does Zendaya want to play a villain, she also expressed interest in stepping behind the camera.  “I think within the industry, I would be a director, which is something I hope to do one day,” she said. Ultimately, Zendaya revealed why she's often cast in good girl parts when discussing what job she'd want if she left Hollywood. “I think outside, I feel like I would have probably followed in the footsteps of my parents and become a teacher," she said. "I love kids, I love learning and I love teaching.” Spoken like a true villain.