Over the summer, we learned that Zendaya’s mysterious role in Spider-Man: Homecoming may very well be Mary Jane Watson — news that unfortunately spurred a bit of sadly predictable controversy among some fans, who felt that casting a young woman of color was a betrayal to the traditional depiction of Peter Parker’s white love interest. In a new interview, Zendaya herself addresses the negative reaction to her casting, and though she skillfully dodges the big MJ question, the actress does have one interesting detail to offer about her character.

Speaking with THR, Zendaya says she’s been a fan of the Spider-Man franchise for a while — interestingly enough, the 20-year-old star was “too young” for the Tobey Maguire movies, but says she was just the right age (16) for Andrew Garfield’s version of the character, who turned her into a full-blown Spidey fanatic. That puts Zendaya in a unique position to respond to the fans who aren’t happy about reports that she’s playing Mary Jane Watson in Homecoming:

People are going to react over anything. But nothing [about who she is playing] is fact. It’s like, you guys are just making shit up at this point and then reacting to it. Whenever we were on set, one of us gets some random character name [on the call sheet]. [Bloggers were] like, “Oh they must be so and so.” And we just crack up about it, because it’s like, “Whatever you want to think. You’ll find out.” It’s funny to watch the guessing game. But of course there’s going to be outrage over that because for some reason some people just aren’t ready. I’m like, “I don't know what America you live in, but from what I see when I walk outside my streets of New York right now, I see lots of diversity and I see the real world and it’s beautiful, and that’s what should be reflected and that’s what is reflected so you’re just going to have to get over it.”

Those sentiments feel particularly apt in the wake of this year’s election, no?

Although Zendaya won’t confirm her exact role, she does offer a surprising detail about the nature of her relationship with Tom Holland’s Peter Parker / Spider-Man:

My character is not romantic. My character is like very dry, awkward, intellectual and because she’s so smart, she just feels like she doesn't need to talk to people, like “My brain is so far ahead of you that you’re just not really on my level.” So she comes off very weird. But to me, she is very cool because she’s deep. She’s always thinking about something, always reading. I like that.

Whether she’s playing Mary Jane or some reimagined version of MJ or someone else entirely, Zendaya’s character definitely sounds like a cool person to hang out with, regardless of her name.

Spider-Man: Homecoming hits theaters on July 7, 2017.


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