The leading ladies of the HBO Max smash hit Euphoria gathered on Sunday to participate in an awards season For Your Consideration Q&A panel. During the chat, Zendaya, Hunter Schafer, Sydney Sweeney, and Maude Apatow shared what they hope is in store for season 3. (Notably missing were actresses Alexa Demie and Barbie Ferreira. Ferreira announced her departure from the series in August.)
The event, which took place in L.A., also included a screening of season 2’s heart wrenching fifth episode, “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird.” Rue (Zendaya) unleashes on all her loved ones, flees law enforcement and drug dealers, steals from someone’s home, and drops the bombshell that Cassie (Sweeney) has been secretly dating her best friend Maddy’s (Demie) on-and-off boyfriend Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi). The landmark episode has been widely acclaimed and largely credited for Zendaya’s latest Emmy win for her poignant portrayal of Rue. The actress was also recently nominated for a Golden Globe for best performances by an actress in a dramatic television series
The actress and executive producer explained that while much of Rue’s storyline and ending had been re-written, creator Sam Levinson’s plan for episode five was always the same. “There was a much sadder ending to this season, and so we were thinking, ‘We can’t leave her here, she means too much to us.’ I think, collectively, as a people, we all needed a little bit of hope,” Zendaya told the audience per The Hollywood Reporter. “We needed something to look forward to, some goodness and some joy, and trying to find that in a very painful time.” (Season 2 was filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
“That felt very relevant to, I think, a lot of people, but also important to me when it comes to Rue. I want people to know that there is something beautiful inside of her, whether she can see it at that time or not,” said Zendaya. “So then, he [Levinson] proceeded to completely change the ending, and it ended in the most beautiful way and the most incredible performances that you guys brought to life that blow my mind. And really, the idea [is] that art can save lives in many ways. So it went through many iterations, but I’m grateful where it ended, and I’m grateful for all the stories that were then shared with me after that ending.”
Sharing her wishes for her beloved, tormented character, Zendaya said her hope for Rue, “is literally just to be able to be alive and maybe enjoy it.”
She added, “I know that she can do it because Sam wrote it, and Sam is Rue, and he’s done it. He’s proof that there is hope for Rue and anyone like Rue, and from the beautiful letters and people who have reached out — I am so grateful for those experiences when somebody comes up to me, and they speak about Rue and how they’ve connected to her or whatever part of their healing journey she has been able to be a part of. To me that is the greatest, greatest gift I can ever ask, it gives me euphoria and purpose in what I do. I just hope for a little bit of joy and for her just to be able to breathe and love without the fear of losing. I mean, she’s gonna have to go through some things, yes, but you know, we’ll get there.”
Schafer shared her thoughts on Jules’ journey this season, fighting to love Rue despite her demons, and her character’s fling with another addict, Elliot, who is portrayed by her real-life partner, Dominic Fike.
“Each of these characters have their own vice in a way, and I think the product of Jules’ vice [is] that she’s looking for is closeness with other people, and feeling affirmed in that closeness without any judgement or real connection and safety in that connection,” Schafer explained. “I think she finds it in not the best ways a lot of the time, but I think [at the] end of the day, it’s what she’s looking for — what she knows is there with Rue, but there’s stuff in the way; what she knows is with her dad, but there’s stuff in the way; what she knows could be with Elliot, but he’s an addict and everything.”
As for the Howard sisters, Cassie (Sweeney) and Lexi (Apatow), each of them is looking for safety and security in something more. According to Sweeney, Cassie is seeking family. “She’s looking for a family in everyone else. She looks for it [in] her friends, she looks for it in the guys.”
According to Apatow, her character Lexi is seeking validation from her inner self — “freedom from yourself and your thoughts, and negative thoughts, negative self-talk. Once that’s out of the way, you can realize your full potential, and I think that’ll probably [be] hers – stop attacking herself.”
Euphoria’s season 2 premiere basically broke the internet. According to HBO, 14 million viewers tuning in across platforms when it was released in January 2022. Doubling the average rating for Euphoria’s first season, the astounding stats placed the season 2 premiere as the most viewed episode of an HBO series ever on HBO Max, prompting the swift green lighting of a third season.