Hunter Schafer on her breakthrough role in HBO’s Euphoria
Currently at #2 on IMDb’s list of the most popular shows on TV, the hit HBO series stars Zendaya (KC Undercover, Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Greatest Showman) as a 17-year-old named Rue, who returns home from rehab with no plans to stay clean, and strikes up a friendship with the new girl in town, Jules (trans superstar Hunter Schafer).
Euphoria follows their group of high school students as they navigate love and friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma and social media.
The Hollywood Reporter hailed it as “perhaps the most unflinching, not to mention explicit, take on modern adolescence ever to hit US television… Boundary-pushing, real and exceptionally realised.”
Hunter, who’s been catapulted into IMDb’s Top 100 by the show, let us in on her thoughts about the adults-only teen series, which has just been renewed for a second season by HBO.
What can you tell us about your character, and what issues is she dealing with?
Jules is new in town, about to start on this high school endeavour, and quickly finds a best friend, Rue.
Jules has a routine as far as her sexuality goes. She wants to feel good about herself so she has developed a routine in order to fulfil this, of engaging with older, typically married white cis men in order to reach some sort of affirmation with her femininity.
While she’s got it down to a tee, it’s not necessarily healthy for her; it’s toxic, so when she comes to this town she has an opportunity to break that down.
What appealed to you about the show and how did you get involved?
From the get-go, it felt very real and accurate and something we could resonate with as far as the characters we were going for. This is my first acting gig. It’s wild!
I saw the open casting call floating around on Instagram, which trans women were passing around to each other, and a few days later my model agency put my name in and it went from there. These were like the first full scripts I ever read…
How much did you draw on your own teenage experiences in preparing for the role?
I definitely didn’t have a parallel experience to Jules but as far as feeling the way she did and needing affirmation with femininity and how that affects even your subconscious, I got that. I’ve been there and I’ve also brought myself out of it.
I don’t think I’m fully ever out of that kind of spiral but I could use that feeling in order to push her further.
What sets it apart from other dramas depicting teenage life?
We’re allowed to be complex in all the issues that it covers. There’s a unique connection to the internet I don’t think we’ve seen quite to the extent that it’s going to play out in the show.
How are you feeling about the show’s release?
My family live in North Carolina on the bible belt. My dad is the pastor of a church. My parents are on board but my dad talks to his congregation and thinking about these congregation members having a viewing party and watching what goes down? It’s a little weird, knowing I grew up with them and they’re about to see a side of me that did not come out at church.
It’s pretty cool though; I hope it will be effective in some way.