“Euphoria” Actor Austin Abrams Said He Was Terrified Of Ethan’s Dance Number Because He Was Originally Supposed To Be In His Underwear And “Lathered Down In Oil” After Other Actors Spoke Out About Their Discomfort On Set
Several Euphoria stars have admitted to not being comfortable with Sam Levinson’s original script, largely due to the amount of gratuitous nudity.
This week marks the end of Euphoria Season 2, with the finale premiering on Sunday after a drama-filled couple of months.
While the episodes themselves have certainly provided plenty of talking points, the cast’s comments about their experience filming the show have perhaps overshadowed the plot.
In fact, the making of this season was a hot topic of conversation before the first episode even hit our screens, with production dramatically halted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the long wait to begin filming, Euphoria’s creator Sam Levinson completely rewrote the script, with Zendaya confirming that what we’ve seen unfold on TV over the past eight weeks is totally different from what was originally going to happen.
The actor, who plays Rue, said that the “majority of the originally planned season was scrapped,” adding to the Cut: “There are very few things that remain in the version that you are now seeing.”
Fans of the show have been able to work out dribs and drabs of what the original script consisted of through various cast interviews, and while some changes appear to be rather straightforward, others have come under scrutiny.
In fact, many of Euphoria’s women stars have said that they were uncomfortable with their characters’ nude scenes and admitted to speaking to Sam directly in a bid to get them changed.
Sydney Sweeney, who plays Cassie, was one of the actors to speak out about the gratuitous nudity that her character originally faced, and said that Sam was incredibly receptive to her feedback.
"There are moments where Cassie was supposed to be shirtless and I would tell Sam, 'I don't really think that's necessary here.’ He was like, 'OK, we don't need it,’” she told the Independent.
“I've never felt like Sam has pushed it on me or was trying to get a nude scene into an HBO show,” she added. “When I didn't want to do it, he didn't make me.”
This season of Euphoria also saw the introduction of many new actors, and they too had their reservations about what they were being asked to do.
Minka Kelly joined the show as rich suburban mom Samantha, who Maddy babysits for. In one scene, Samantha asks Maddy to help her unzip her gown in a moment that holds uncomfortably sensual undertones.
And Minka recently revealed that the scene was originally much more sexual and involved her being completely naked on set.
“[Sam] thought it would be more interesting if my dress fell to the ground. That was my first day as a guest on this new show, and I just didn’t feel comfortable standing there naked,” she told Vanity Fair.
“I said, ‘I’d love to do this scene, but I think we can keep my dress on,’” Minka added. “He was like, ‘OK!’ He didn’t even hesitate. And he shot a beautiful scene and got exactly what he wanted.”
Chloe Cherry is another Season 2 newcomer whose first day on set initially involved being naked, but her costar Tyler Chase, who plays Custer, advocated for this to be changed.
Chloe stars as Faye in the series, and she admitted that she was already uncomfortable on set because the very first scene that she shot was the one where Custer shoves Faye into a vent.
“We just met and said, ‘Hey, how are you?’ and then shot the scene,” she told the Daily Beast. “It probably would’ve been more comfortable had we had a little more time to [get to] know each other.”
Chloe added: “Sam wanted to do the scene with me completely naked and Tyler was like, ‘That’s a lot,’ so they decided not to.”
Meanwhile, Martha Kelly revealed that the already-disturbing fifth episode of Season 2 initially had a “gross pedophilia vibe” that she felt incredibly uncomfortable shooting.
In the show, Martha plays drug dealer and sex trafficker Laurie, who hinted that she would traffic Rue to “sick people” if she couldn’t repay her debts after being given a suitcase full of drugs to sell.
After Rue showed up at Laurie’s house in the depths of withdrawal, Laurie was seen giving her a bath and injecting her with morphine.
Discussing the unsettling moment, Martha told Variety: “There is that scene where Rue is getting into the tub, and Laurie injects her with morphine — and in the script, it is even creepier, because Laurie is helping her undress and get in the tub, and it is approaching this gross pedophilia vibe.”
Despite not being happy with filming the scene as it was written, Martha confessed that she didn’t want to ask Sam to make any changes because she just felt “lucky” to have been cast in the show.
“I would never tell a writer or a director if they could change something for me,” she said. "If I accept a part it’s because I want to do it, and I like the people I am working with, so I do not want to intrude with my own self-centered discomfort.”
But Sam ended up changing the scene himself during the break from filming, making the moment between Laurie and Rue much more implicit. Martha said: “I was happy when Sam told me we were going to shoot the bathroom scene slightly out of focus, and that some stuff was altered because of that pause we took in filming due to the pandemic.”
Elsewhere, Alexa Demie, who plays Maddy, previously admitted to finding the nudity in Euphoria “tough” to come to terms with, but she also opted against speaking to Sam about having it changed.
“When I read the script I was like this all makes sense and I want to do it. The nudity was — it was tough for me because I’m, you know, I’m not really… I’m just not comfortable like that publicly,” she told Vogue. “So it was hard for me. But it definitely, like I said, pulled me out of my comfort zone, and after I did it, I watched it and it’s just… It’s not that serious."
While the vast majority of the uncomfortable scenes center around the women actors, Austin Abrams, who plays Ethan, has revealed that he was also nervous about his character’s original Season 2 script.
In arguably one of the most showstopping scenes of the season, Episode 7 saw Ethan perform an impressive dance routine to Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero” as part of Lexi’s play.
In the heavily homoerotic performance, Ethan and a group of male backup dancers are shirtless and in football pants while writhing around the stage.
Speaking about the dance in a recent interview, Austin admitted that he was dreading the shoot for this scene because it was unlike anything he’d ever done before.
And the original script made him even more uncomfortable, with Austin telling Entertainment Tonight that Sam had initially planned for Ethan and the rest of the dancers to be wearing just a pair of tight underpants while they got “lathered down in oil and doing all these things.”
The actor said that it was a relief to not have to dance in his “tighty-whities” in front of an auditorium full of his costars and hundreds of extras, with the routine taking three days to shoot.
After the changes were made, Austin ended up having a “really fun” experience on set and believes that the dance was integral for Ethan’s development.
“I think it shows that character growth. It shows him having more of a backbone,” he said, with the episode immediately following Ethan’s bizarre breakup with Kat, played by Barbie Ferreira.
According to anonymous sources, Barbie walked off set mid-shoot during the heated altercation, which is believed to have stemmed from Sam wanting Kat to have an eating disorder this season.
As a body-positive activist, Kat was reportedly not comfortable with the storyline, so Sam retaliated by dramatically cutting her screentime, according to the rumors.
While none of this has been confirmed, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that Kat was barely featured throughout the season, and her and Ethan’s breakup fueled speculation that she and Sam are not on good terms.
The seemingly redundant scene saw Kat lie about having a terminal brain disorder to get out of her relationship. While the entire thing was completely out of character, she further shocked viewers by accusing Ethan of "gaslighting" her when he called her out for lying.
People believe that the incredibly odd exchange was proof of a real-life feud, and while Barbie hasn’t publicly commented on her relationship with Sam, she did acknowledge that Kat isn’t getting much attention this season.
“Kat’s journey this season is a little more internal and a little mysterious to the audience. She is secretly going through a lot of existential crises,” she told the Cut. “She loses her marbles a little bit — just like everyone else in this season. The theme is everyone’s gone a little crazy.”
While Euphoria’s main cast have heavily hinted at what went on behind the scenes during the making of Season 2, an extra from the show also spoke out about her “horrible fucking experience” on set, and revealed that other background actors refused to return after 16-hour days left them “numb.”
And with a third season of Euphoria already confirmed, we can only hope that future filming is a much better experience for everybody involved.