It has been almost two months since the season finale of Euphoria hit our screens, and to be honest, we’re still processing it.
The second season of the gritty HBO Max show commanded attention throughout its eight-episode run with its emotionally charged scenes and difficult subject matters.
In fact, Zendaya, who plays Rue Bennett, previously revealed that she was left with physical scars and bruises as she reflected on the toll that the particularly grueling fifth episode took on her.
The installment centered on Rue as she tried to escape her family and friends’ intervention after they learned that she had relapsed and was taking drugs again. Rue was shown dodging traffic and scaling buildings as she battled to find — and pay for — drugs for her addiction.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly at the time, Zendaya said that “it was a very tough day” of filming, and in a second interview she pointed out that while she was acting, her body still endured the performance as though it were real life.
In fact, this aspect of the shoot left her “scared” to take it on, with the actor telling Elle Australia: “I was always a bit scared. I was scared to tackle it because I didn't want to see Rue like that, or have to go through that. Your body is a person, it doesn't know that what you're doing is not real.”
“My brain can say 'ok I'm pretending' but when I'm doing it, my body and my heart don't know that it's not real,” she continued. “It can be exhausting in that way and it can make you feel bad because she says and does things that I don't want her to do and say, but here I am.”
However, Zendaya was grateful to have the support of the crew on set and said: “I think what's special about Euphoria is that it's the kind of set where if I cry, often there's like 12 other people behind the camera crying with me, so I don't feel like I'm by myself and I feel like they have my back.”
Her costar, Sydney Sweeney, has now opened up about her similar experience on the show, and credited Euphoria’s creator and writer, Sam Levinson, for helping her snap back to reality after going to “dark places” in her role as Cassie.
Cassie endures an emotional roller coaster in Season 2 after starting a secret relationship with her best friend Maddy’s abusive ex-boyfriend, Nate.
The character is visibly shown to be spiraling and struggling mentally, and Sydney won praise for several highly charged scenes that saw Cassie suffer a breakdown.
Speaking at a panel discussion about the show at LA’s Academy Museum on Wednesday night, Sydney said: “I had something beautiful with Cassie where every single scene she had, I felt like there was an arc to what was happening within her, her heart, her mind, and she had to grow and learn or unlearn everything around her.”
“I found these dark places within myself where sometimes Sam would have to come next to me and pull me out of it because it was so raw and so emotional,” she added.
The comments come after Sydney revealed that she worked with Sam to flesh out some of Cassie’s more dramatic moments, which included halting filming so that he could write an extra five pages of the script there and then.
Referencing the scene where Cassie and Nate — played by Jacob Elordi — have a huge argument in his bedroom, Sydney told the Cut: “Jacob and I did the scene as it was written, and we were like, ‘There is so much more here that we could do that’s pent up. Let us build it.'”
And the changes saw Cassie suffer a breakdown after convincing herself that Nate will leave her for Maddy. Sydney recalled: “I let any judgment of myself go. I’m very proud of the meltdown Cassie had this season.”
Sydney praised Sam for the way that he was open to cooperating with the cast, and called him “respectful” and “incredible” as a director. “He would never make me do something I didn’t feel comfortable with,” she added in reference to Cassie’s nude scenes on the show.
In fact, Sydney insisted the nudity was “important” to show as part of Cassie’s identity, telling Teen Vogue: “There’s a purpose to what that character is going through. That’s the character. We all get naked in real life. We show this character’s life and what they’re going through. Cassie’s body is a different form of communication for her.”
The amount of nudity in Euphoria has been a source of contention throughout its two seasons, with some cast members revealing that they’d spoken to Sam about cutting their characters’ gratuitous nudity when they saw the original script for Season 2.
Minka told Vanity Fair that she “just didn’t feel comfortable standing there naked” and asked Sam if they could keep the dress on. She added that “he didn’t even hesitate” and agreed to cut the nudity.
And Chloe Cherry, who plays Faye, revealed that her costar Tyler Chase advocated for her to be wearing clothes in a scene that originally had Faye completely naked.
Discussing the scene where Tyler’s character Custer shoves Faye into a vent during a drugs raid, Chloe told the Daily Beast: “Sam wanted to do the scene with me completely naked and Tyler was like, ‘That’s a lot,’ so they decided not to.”
Euphoria has also faced backlash for the extensive drug use that is depicted onscreen, and earlier this year Drug Abuse Resistance Education issued a statement via TMZ that accused the show of trying to "misguidedly glorify" teenage drug use and "other destructive behaviors."
Zendaya defended the show at the time, hitting back at the statement as she told Entertainment Weekly that Euphoria “is in no way a moral tale to teach people how to live their life or what they should be doing.”
"If anything, the feeling behind Euphoria, or whatever we have always been trying to do with it, is to hopefully help people feel a little bit less alone in their experience and their pain,” she added. “And maybe feel like they're not the only one going through or dealing with what they're dealing with.”
Before Season 2 ended, it was confirmed that Euphoria has been renewed for a third season, however, it is not expected to hit our screens until 2023 at the earliest.
Needless to say, viewers can’t wait to see what’s in store.