HBO’s hit series Euphoria has shined a light on some of the issues that face teens today. Hunter Schafer stars as Jules Vaughn, a trans teenage girl who has a complicated relationship with her friend Rue Bennett, played by Emmy Award winner Zendaya.
Season 2 of Euphoria was set to begin filming in early 2020, but production was forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To tide fans over, Zendaya and Schafer starred in two separate special episodes that aired in late 2020 and early 2021.
Hunter Schafer is one of ‘Euphoria’s breakout stars
Despite making her name as an actor, it wasn’t the path that Schafer had originally set for herself. She moved to New York after graduating high school in 2017 and started working as a model. She had plans to study fashion design at Central Saint Martins in London when her agent said she’d been asked to audition for an HBO show called Euphoria.
Schafer told The New York Times in 2019 she was “mildly interested” in acting at the time but hadn’t thought to pursue it seriously. “I gave it a shot,” she said, “then I just kept going back in and getting more of the scripts and eventually started to fall in love with my character.”
Hunter Schafer co-wrote her ‘Euphoria’ special episode
Schafer’s special Euphoria episode, “F*ck Anyone Who’s Not a Sea Blob,” centers around Jules’ first session with a new therapist where she explained how she felt as a young trans girl and how her relationship with Rue was affecting her as a person.
If Jules’ therapy session feels especially personal, that’s because it is. Euphoria creator Sam Levinson invited Schafer to co-write and co-produce the episode, ensuring that Schafer had a say in every word that Jules said.
“I called [Schafer] up to get her thoughts on this episode,” Levinson recalled in an interview with GQ. “Several hours later, we were talking and she said something that was based on a poem she had written when she was 16 about the ocean and its femininity and strength. And I said, ‘Well, this ought to be actual dialogue. Do you want to just write this thing together?’”
The two quickly got to work, and wrote a draft of the episode in just four days.
Hunter Schafer had a hard time in quarantine before the ‘Euphoria’ special episode
Before Levinson approached Schafer with the idea of a one-off special episode towards the beginning of the pandemic, she wasn’t in the best place personally. She opened up about her experience at the time in an interview with Jimmy Fallon.
“I had been in North Carolina for a little bit, and to be honest, I was not doing super well mentally at the time,” Schafer admitted. “I had taken it upon myself to research mental hospitals in North Carolina… but all of them had terrible reviews on Google Maps.”
She told Levinson that she had been reading all those bad reviews, and the two began “tossing around ideas for the episode again.” Schafer is pleased with how it turned out, and acknowledged that writing the episode gave her something to do instead of committing herself.
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