Brad Gilbert bonded with Zendaya while working as a consultant on 'Challengers' movie

Family ties led Gilbert to working on the film with stars, Zendaya, Josh O'Connor, and Mike Faist

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Brad Gilbert, 62, added a new job to his extensive resume. In addition to being a tennis player, coach, and broadcaster, he also acted as the consultant during the 2022 filming of Challengers, the upcoming tennis movie starring Zendaya, Josh O'Connor, and Mike Faist.

Gilbert was not actively looking for a new job in Hollywood filmmaking, but his daughter Julian, who worked with one of the movie's producers Amy Pascal got him the job. Julian realized that no one in front of or behind the Challengers camera had significant tennis experience beyond Faist who played the sport in high school. Gilbert gave the actors notes on how to act like professional tennis players.

He enjoyed the experience of helping the actors hone their tennis skills for the camera; in the process, he drew many comparisons between acting and professional tennis, most notably the trained behaviors of mind and body discipline.

How Brad Gilbert and Zendaya connected

Gilbert and Zendaya originated from Oakland and learned they were born in the same hospital 35 years apart. Zendaya began performing and dancing as a child so she was honing her craft from an early age just as junior tennis players do. Tennis is a rhythmic movement of the hands, body, and feet making it somewhat similar to dance. The tennis serve is the epitome of rhythm, timing, and coordinated movement

Zendaya took an interest in the sport, accompanying Gilbert to a college tennis match between his alma mater Pepperdine, and Arizona State. Zendaya asked him astute questions about the mechanics of the tennis swing and footwork.

Challengers US release date is April 26. Though Gilbert enjoyed the Hollywood gig, he is back to his day jobs of coaching Coco Gauff and commentating and analyzing the sport for ESPN.

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