Josh O’Connor tells GQ what it was like working with Zendaya and living in a van.

His character in Contenders this is a tennis player named Patrick, a very aggressive professional, without a coach and with a giant ego.

In one scene, Art (Mike Feist), his rival on and off the court, asks him to hold his dick for him. They’re in the sauna, but it feels like the request could have come at any point in the film. Patrick is very reminiscent of the controversial Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios. O’Connor carefully watched tapes of matches and demonstrated his defiant behavior on the field. He also looked for egos in football: Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Paolo Di Canio. Players who are used to saying whatever comes into their head: “It’s fun to play a character who has pure explosive energy,” O’Connor says. “When I first read the script, I imagined Patrick as a tough guy, like one of the Gallagher brothers. Then I realized that this character needs to smile. Every time he got angry, I smiled a little.”

“A good actor shows what he can do on set,” Guadagnino says. “But only great people like Josh allow you to reveal the details and subtleties of their physical development when you sit in the editing room and review the material.”

Before filming, O’Connor, Zendaya and Feist played tennis six days a week, two to three hours a day, and then another two hours in the gym: “Then more gym and tennis, and then rehearsals,” O’ says Connor. I’m still amazed. “For me, I would occasionally go to the gym for an hour and then think I could eat anything. I wouldn’t do anything.”

“I saw him gain almost five kilograms of muscle in the weeks we worked together. Physically he has changed,” Faist testifies. “He’s like a master, he always knows exactly what to do.” Turn ContendersO’Connor flew to Boston from Italy, where he was filming the first part of the film. Chimera. Italy was a dream for me. The cast and crew became like family, Alice Rohrwacher taught everyone how to make focaccia, they swam in the lake and hung out around the fire in the evenings. O’Connor lived in the middle of the countryside, in a beautiful villa in the upper part of Bolsena. In Boston, he found himself in a stylish penthouse Continuity: “Luke says actors are like racehorses: if you want them to run as fast as possible, you have to take care of them,” says O’Connor. “I think he meant hotels and food… but living in a hotel room is not ideal for me. Everything was so luxurious and I felt depressed.”

O’Connor spent a long time searching for a suitable van, similar to the 1960s Volkswagen campervan his parents had before the engine exploded with his father inside (“It’s less tragic than it sounds,” he says). After filming ends Contendersthe actor had to return to Italy to finish Chimera. It seemed like the time had finally come to buy a van. The meeting with Vinny began precisely then: in the van, which became his refuge, a place where he could hide when the strangeness of acting risked blurring the contours of reality.

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