'Challengers' stars Zendaya, Mike Faist and Josh O'Connor on filming three-way kiss: It's 'like a dance'

"With those scenes in general, they are very technical," Zendaya says of the buzzed-about motel scene.

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Challengers has already been declared one of the sexiest movies of the year with various headlines dedicated to the onscreen threesome between stars Zendaya, Mike Faist and Josh O'Connor. While the R-rated tennis drama, out April 26, has no shortage of steamy moments, that motel scene is surely one that will have people talking. In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, the actors say the scene worked because of a few things: trust between them, an intimacy coordinator and director Luca Guadagnino's vision.

"With those scenes in general, they are very technical," Zendaya says. "The camera is involved. ... They are the fourth person. It's truly a lot more technical and put together more than people maybe understand ... Everything is choreographed, like a dance in many ways."

The 27-year-old Emmy-winning actress says the process is not sexy from the actors’ perspectives: "While people just see the three of us, our view is a camera, boom — there's a whole group of [people], we're in that room doing it together."

O'Connor adds, "There are a number of aspects that make any scene work. I do think that trust in your other actors is vitally important, and that can be with things that are intimate like a three-way kiss or just generally doing any scene."

Spoiler alert: there are no actual sex scenes in the film. ("Tennis is the sex," Zendaya previously teased.) But the three-way kiss is still an intimate moment between the stars.

"When it comes to the intimate scenes, we had an intimacy coordinator," O'Connor says. "Also, Luca had a very clear idea of how it was going to work, so you sort of design it like a dance. There's no question of, ‘What are we doing next?"

From left, Mike Faist, Zendaya and Josh O'Connor
From left, Mike Faist, Zendaya and Josh O'Connor. (MGM/YouTube)

In the film, Zendaya plays tennis prodigy Tashi Duncan, who catches the attention of best friends and doubles partners Art Donaldson (Faist) and Patrick Zweig (O'Connor). A love triangle ensues, and it's a complicated one. Audiences are taken back and forth through a 13-year period in the movie where Tashi is with Patrick, Tashi is married to Art — and Tashi is with both men. Challengers hinges on the chemistry between Zendaya, Faist and O'Connor, and judging from the film's 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, it's palpable.

Faist was convinced he lost out on the role after thinking he failed his chemistry test with Zendaya.

"I didn't think I passed it," he recalls. "It was me and Z, we were in London, we were in a hotel room and Luca was directing us... I just felt like, 'Oh I'm not giving him what he's actually asking for at the end of the day.' I just felt like there's either a breakdown in communication that isn't happening and I'm not able to kind of deliver what he's asking for. I just felt, 'Nope, that was it.'"

Zendaya was surprised to learn Faist didn't think it went well. "I also knew Luca wanted him from the beginning," she says. "He didn't feel that I guess!"

Zendaya was the first star cast in the film (thanks to Spider-Man: Homecoming producer Amy Pascal). As one of the most sought-after stars in Hollywood, she has her pick of roles these days, but something about the fact that the character of Tashi scared her made the Euphoria star want to jump on board.

"It's always a pleasure and a luxury to find a female character that is multifaceted," she says, adding that a lot of female roles are just "in service of" helping "a male lead character get to where they emotionally need to go.

"I feel like it's rare that you come across a character like this, who’s unapologetic and messy and just layered. There were so many things about her I could never figure out or understand," she says. "We all asked those questions of ourselves, of our characters, of each other's characters. That's why we do this — to be able to build characters that we can empathize with no matter how messy they are."

Challengers hits theaters nationwide on April 26.