One Direction was one of the hottest boy bands of the 2010s. But, sadly, the group went their separate ways just nine months after Zayn Malik left the group abruptly in March 2015. Though Malik called his former bandmates Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan his "friends for life" in his farewell letter, drama quickly erupted between the members, causing many fans to wonder if the band was as tight as they all painted themselves to be while they were together. Recently, Styles took a shot at Malik during his Nov. 16 Saturday Night Live monologue, reigniting the question of whether Harry Styles and Zayn are still friends or not. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like it.
The first sign that things might be less than amicable between Malik and the rest of One Direction came all the way back in July 2015. Malik seemingly threw shade at his former bandmates after he signed with RCA Records when he tweeted it was time to make "real music."
Then in September 2017, Malik got pointed and specifically called out Styles, telling Us Weekly he and Styles barely spoke to each other when they were in One Direction.
"To be honest, I never really spoke to Harry even when I was in the band," he said when asked if he kept in contact with his bandmate. "So I didn’t really expect that much of a relationship with him."
Malik then reiterated that sentiment in November 2017.
"Our relationships have definitely changed since we were in a band together, but I think that's just life," he told Billboard. "Everybody grows up; two of the guys have got kids now. But no, I don't talk to any of them, really."
Malik continued to rub salt in Directioners' wounds when he told British Vogue he left One Direction without any friends in November 2018. "I have always been a bit like that, though — always a bit of an island. I don’t like to confer with too many people," he said. "I ain’t spoke to any of them for a long time, to be honest with you. That’s just the way it is."
He blamed the complicated relationship between him and his former bandmates partly on rude remarks made behind his back. "There’s things that happen and things that were said after I left… Snide things. Small things that I would never have expected. That’s just the way it is. People move on, people grow apart, people grow up." Malik didn't say who specifically from the band made those comments, but clearly the fact that they were said at all affected his relationship with all the boys.
Unlike Malik, Styles remained mostly tight-lipped about his former bandmate. That was until he appeared on Saturday Night Live on Nov. 16, 2019.
During his opening monologue, Styles reflected on his time in One Direction. "I love those guys. They're my brothers... Niall, Liam, Louis..." before pausing to make it seem like he'd forgotten Malik's name. Styles then named Ringo, the drummer from The Beatles, instead of Zayn.
Considering this moment was one of the very few times Styles openly shaded Malik, it was probably all in good fun. Styles was on SNL, after all.
Styles later opened up about Malik's abrupt departure from the band and the toll it took on him in a Nov. 22 interview on Apple Music’s New Music Daily with Zane Lowe.
"It was kind of like we were sad, obviously, that someone had left, but also sad that he was not enjoying it so much that he had to leave," he said. "We were about to start recording a new album and stuff and it was like, 'Are we recording this without him?' But I'd say in the moment, I guess the four of us became closer because we were like, 'OK, this is a hurdle that we weren't expecting.'"
Considering Malik and Styles both confirmed they don't communicate these days, it doesn't seem like the two singers are close at all. On the bright side, there isn't any indication Malik and Styles are on bad terms with each other, so that should be a small comfort to fans.