There’s no debating that Euphoria protagonist Rue Bennett (Zendaya) has been through it. Over the course of two seasons (and a few special episodes), she has battled drug addiction and embarked on a tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship with her girlfriend and first love, Jules Vaughn (Hunter Schafer). But if Zendaya, who also executive produces the teen drama, has anything to say about it, there are brighter things in store for Rue… at least for a little bit.
During a recent awards season Q&A with The Hollywood Reporter, the two-time Emmy winner joined her Euphoria co-stars Schafer, Maude Apatow, and Sydney Sweeney to look back on Season 2 and discuss their hopes for the show’s third installment.
When the actors were asked what the concept of “euphoria” looks like to each of their characters going forward, Zendaya said that for Rue, her one wish “is literally just to be able to be alive and maybe enjoy it.”
She added that her character feels like she’s always drowning and hopes that Rue can, for a moment, keep her head above water with “a little bit of happiness and a little bit of joy.”
“I know she can do it because Sam wrote it, and Sam is Rue, and he’s done it,” Zendaya added, as Rue was inspired by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson’s own adolescent struggles with addiction. “He’s proof that there is hope for Rue and anyone like Rue, and from the beautiful letters and people who have reached out — I am so grateful for those experiences when somebody comes up to me, and they speak about Rue and how they’ve connected to her… To me, that is the greatest, greatest gift I can ever ask, it gives me euphoria and purpose in what I do.”
The last time Euphoria fans saw Rue, there was a glint of hope for her future. In a voiceover that closes out Season 2, Rue reveals that she’s made peace with her breakup with Jules, and managed to stay clean for the rest of her junior year of high school. There are still several dangling threads, such as the fact that she owes $10,000 to a terrifying drug dealer (Martha Kelly) who literally threatened to sell her to some “bad people” if she lost it. But things are somehow looking up for the queer teen at the moment, which wasn’t always the intention.
At the Hollywood Reporter Q&A, Zendaya confirmed that originally, there was a “much sadder ending” to Euphoria season 2 that she and Levinson ultimately decided against in favor of leaving Rue on a more hopeful note.
“We were thinking, ‘We can’t leave her here, she means too much to us,’” Zendaya explained. “I think collectively, as a people, we all needed a little bit of hope. We needed something to look forward to, some goodness and some joy, and trying to find that in a very painful time.”
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