Josh O’Connor Calls His ‘Challengers’ Character a ‘Monster’: He’s a ‘Dick’

Josh O’Connor shines in the sizzling tennis romance drama “Challengers,” but that doesn’t mean “The Crown” alum is a fan of his own character.

O’Connor told WSJ magazine that he actually thought his character Patrick was a bit of a “monster.” The film, directed by Luca Guadagnino, centers on Tashi (Zendaya), a former college tennis star who is torn between her three loves: husband Art (Mike Faist), ex Patrick (O’Connor), and the sport itself. While Tashi’s dalliances between Art and Patrick overlap over the years, O’Connor calls Patrick a total “dick” of a role.

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“How do you make a character likable whilst being a monster?,” O’Connor said of his core struggle to play Patrick. “It’s the first time I think I’ve played a character who’s just like, ‘I’m fucking mad.’ Like, ‘I’m a dick and I’m proud.'”

In fact, O’Connor at first didn’t think he would be a good fit for any role in “Challengers,” despite producer/actress Zendaya and Guadagnino specifically selecting him to be cast. “If you were making the movie, you wouldn’t cast me,” O’Connor formerly told screenwriter Justin Kuritzkes in an initial meeting. “You would cast anyone but me.”

O’Connor added, “I was convinced the studio and Zendaya, Mike [Faist], and anyone else would be like, ‘Josh O’Who?'”

Zendaya even admitted that O’Connor couldn’t be more different than Patrick. “After meeting him, I was like, Oh, my God, you’re nothing like this person,” the “Euphoria” Emmy winner said. “I think people are going to love to hate him and hate to love him.”

Guadagnino had his own take: “I thought that Josh could be humorous enough, languorous enough, and sexy enough.”

O’Connor told IndieWire that ultimately it’s up to audiences to untangle the moral grays of the sensual film.

“I think that’s for the audience to figure out for themselves. My job as an actor is to look at the script, analyze the texts, see what’s there, and show up to work and do my job, and then Luca runs with it and does his thing,” O’Connor said. “At a certain point, we have to kind of let go of our baby and our darling, and then it becomes the audience’s, and it’s for you guys to kind of live with, and now you’re kind of the co-creator of it. That’s kind of the joy of what we do.”

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