Josh O'Connor Channels Kyrgios and British Football for 'Challengers' Role

Josh O’Connor Channels Kyrgios and British Football for ‘Challengers’ Role

Challengers: Josh O’Connor Draws Inspiration from Nick Kyrgios and British Football for Patrick Zweig

In the upcoming tennis-themed drama “Challengers,” actor Josh O’Connor’s portrayal of Patrick Zweig is a captivating blend of the on-court antics of Nick Kyrgios and the brash personalities of British football.

O’Connor revealed that Kyrgios’s “good trouble” on the court was a key inspiration for Zweig’s character. “There’s something really entertaining about Kyrgios,” he said. “But my love of him as a tennis player comes from this film, because it was about, ‘How do we find a character I can take stuff from for Patrick?'”

Beyond Kyrgios, O’Connor also drew from the personalities that pervade British football to create Zweig, a brash and arrogant athlete who achieved early success despite an unorthodox technique. “It was more than the tennis playing. It was the in-between, when he’s sitting down and resting,” O’Connor explained. “He’ll do very provocative things that I’d find both terrible and endearing.”

The film’s stars, including Zendaya and Mike Faist, acknowledged the challenges of portraying tennis players on screen. “Tennis is not what we do for a living and it’s not something you can just pick up,” said Zendaya, who plays Tashi Duncan, the single-minded prodigy at the heart of the film’s love triangle.

Faist agreed, emphasizing the sport’s technical nuances and the need for precise alignment. “It’s impossible because this sport is so nuanced and so specific in terms of the technique and the format,” he said. “It’s about drilling those physical movements to the point where you don’t have to think about them.”

Despite the challenges, the cast and crew of “Challengers” embraced the opportunity to explore the complexities of tennis and its impact on the lives of its players. The film, directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by Justin Kuritzkes, debuts in theaters on Friday, April 26.

Brad Gilbert’s Tennis Expertise Enhances Film “Challengers”

Brad Gilbert, renowned tennis coach and analyst, has recently ventured into the world of cinema as a tennis consultant for the upcoming film “Challengers.” Gilbert’s expertise has been instrumental in guiding the actors, including Zendaya, Josh O’Connor, and Mike Faist, in portraying tennis scenes authentically.

Gilbert’s involvement in the film stemmed from his daughter’s suggestion, recognizing his extensive knowledge in tennis. He spent several months working with the cast and production team, providing insights into the intricacies of the sport.

Gilbert’s experience with the actors revealed striking similarities between tennis and acting. Both disciplines demand physical prowess, sustained discipline, and an unwavering drive. He observed that actors, like tennis players, possess an innate determination and focus, honed through years of practice and performance.

Zendaya, in particular, impressed Gilbert with her athleticism and eagerness to learn. She attended college tennis matches and meticulously studied footwork and swing patterns. Gilbert emphasized that while teaching actors to hit a tennis ball like professionals differs from instructing beginners, the focus remained on developing racquet skills and understanding the game’s nuances.

Gilbert’s recent collaboration with Coco Gauff, who went on to win the US Open, underscores his ability to maximize performance. While the future of the “Challengers” cast members in tennis remains uncertain, they have undoubtedly benefited from Gilbert’s expert guidance.

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