Zendaya almost lost out on Euphoria role, casting director reveals

It’s hard to imagine HBO’s hit show Euphoria without protagonist and producer Zendaya, but according to the show’s casting director, it almost happened.

Hunter Schafer and Zendaya in Euphoria. (HBO)



The Emmy-winning actor was a frontrunner to lead Euphoria right from the start, said casting director Jennifer Venditti – but she wasn’t the only option.

There was a young woman who had been street scouted by my team,” Venditti told Variety, “who was a magical person and had a similar trajectory as Rue and had come around to the other side.”

The young actor in question had also lived with a drug addiction – like Rue – but in the end they decided Zendaya was the one to cast.

“With a TV show, it can be many years [of work],” Jennifer added.

“We all loved her, but when we went through the rigor of the process, we didn’t know if she could handle what it would take in terms of stamina.”

Zendaya in Euphoria. (HBO)


And Zendaya’s powerful performance in the role of Rue, left even Venditti surprised.

“It’s so interesting. A polar opposite. Because here’s Zendaya, who has none of the life experiences of Rue, who was able to dig into her toolbox and access it in such a beautiful way.”

It wasn’t just Zendaya who almost missed out – Hunter Schafer’s agent originally passed on the role of Jules, as they only had modelling experience at the time.

“[The actor] had to be open to any kind of sexual situations. So imagine that you were not really thinking of acting, and someone brings an opportunity with possible nudity,” Venditti explained.

“I was like, ‘Can we just meet?’ Obviously, I’d respect her decision if that was something that, ultimately, she wasn’t comfortable with.

“But I didn’t feel comfortable just not having a discussion about it to see what her thoughts were and to explain what it was.”


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