The first season of Euphoria included some very emotional and devastating scenes. One of the most memorable moments was a verbal fight between mother-daughter duo Rue (Zendaya) and Leslie (Nika King) that almost turned physical.
Last year, Zendaya and creator Sam Levinson revealed why the scene was one of the show’s most emotional moments.
The actress told Refinery29, “There was this specific situation where there was a fight scene between [Rue and Rue’s mom Leslie] that wasn’t scripted. It just said one line [of stage direction]: ‘Rue and her mom have a fight.’ So I’m thinking, okay, I’ll slam the door, or whatever, but this isn’t what Sam had in mind. He wanted us to improv the scene. He said, ‘I want you guys to go at one another’s necks. Just go, as hard as you want to go. If she goes hard, you go harder.’ Now, being a very calm person who doesn’t argue, who doesn’t [scream], I would never say those kinds of things. I don’t care how mad I am, I would never say certain things to my parent, or anybody. It’s not who I am. So, having to put myself in that kind of situation and say and do those things, that was one day when I felt sick. I was like, I was going to vomit, I was lightheaded.”
Levinson, whose experiences with mental health and addiction served as inspiration for the character of Rue, added, “On the third take, our [director of photography] was shooting handheld, Z was coming at Nika with a piece of glass, and our DP hit the back wall of the set and the camera cut out. [The scene] just stopped, and everyone just went silent. I went upstairs to my office and I sat down. I’m very even-keeled on set. I don’t really get rocked by anything. But, I walked into my office and I burst into tears, because whatever it was, Z and Nika had tapped into that real, ugly volatility of addiction — the violence and physicality of it — in a way that I hadn’t seen before on screen. For seven minutes, it brought back too much.”
Though the scene was tough to get through, it all came together at the end. “It’s all cathartic. We’re all using our individual abilities as writers or actors or DPs or props to work our own shit out, our own traumas. We use our own traumas and wield them as weapons. That’s the beauty of storytelling, of making TV; it’s collaborative in a lot of ways.”
Euphoria was in production on season 2 shortly before the coronavirus pandemic began. No word yet if it will still premiere later this year.
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