How to Get Cast on ‘Euphoria’

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Photo Source: Eddy Chen/HBO

HBO’s “Euphoria” pushes the envelope when it comes to both subject matter and visual style. The critically acclaimed series follows a group of high schoolers as they navigate the extremes of the teenage experience, including sex, substance abuse, and anxiety. At the center of it all is 17-year-old Rue, a recovering (and then relapsing) drug addict whose perspective shapes the stylized cinematography. Aside from its captivating storyline and eccentric visuals, what really sets this show apart is its cast. Season 1 of “Euphoria” gave us multiple breakout performances—a result of the show’s commitment to casting new faces. In fact, for stars Hunter Schafer and the late Angus Cloud, “Euphoria” was their first-ever acting gig. 

Could you be the series’ next breakout star? This in-depth guide to getting cast on “Euphoria” details everything you need to know—from insights on future seasons to audition tips from two of the show’s casting directors, Mary Vernieu and Jennifer Venditti.

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What is “Euphoria” about?

“Euphoria” was created by Sam Levinson (“Malcolm & Marie,” “The Idol”) and is based on an Israeli miniseries by Ron Leshem. Both Levinson and Leshem executive produce the American adaptation, along with Daphna Levin, Ravi Nandan, Kevin Turen, Drake, Gary Lennon, Mirit Toovi, Zendaya (who also stars), and more. The show, co-produced by A24, premiered on HBO in June 2019. It was renewed for a second season a month later, and two one-hour special episodes dropped in December 2020 and January 2021, respectively. Season 2 premiered in January 2022.

Season 1 follows Rue Bennett (Zendaya), a troubled teen who recently returned home from rehab—although it’s clear early on that she has no intention of staying clean. She’s surrounded by high school classmates who are all dealing with their own issues, including Jules Vaughn (Schafer), a transgender girl who’s new in town; Fezco (Cloud), a local drug dealer; Lexi Howard (Maude Apatow), Rue’s childhood best friend; Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi), a sexually insecure jock who masks his issues with anger; Maddy Perez (Alexa Demie), Nate’s on-and-off-again girlfriend; Kat Hernandez (Barbie Ferreira), a body-conscious teen exploring her sexuality; and Cassie Howard (Sydney Sweeney), whose troubled romantic history comes back to haunt her.

By the end of the first season (spoiler alert!), Rue has relapsed, Jules is leaving town, Kat is in a new relationship, Nate’s father’s (Eric Dane) shady past is about to be exposed, and Cassie is seeking an abortion. In the first special episode, Rue sits down at a diner with Ali Muhammad (Colman Domingo), a fellow addict and her eventual sponsor, and starts to talk through her issues with substance abuse. In the second special episode, Jules reflects and unloads in her first therapy session.

By the end of the second season, Rue appears to be on the right track after going to extremes throughout the earlier episodes to get her hands on any substance possible. Rue’s mother, Leslie (Nika King), and sister, Gia (Storm Reid)—along with Jules and Elliot (Dominic Fike)—intervene amid Rue’s relapse, in the throes of her withdrawal. Nate also puts an end to his father’s sexual exploits when he gives Jules the recording of her and Cal while also reporting him to the police. Meanwhile, Lexi’s play puts everyone’s lives on display for the school to see, triggering Cassie to disrupt the performance. As the play resumes, Fez and Ashtray (Javon “Wanna” Walton) find themselves battling it out with the authorities, leaving Fez injured and under arrest, while Ashtray seemingly perishes in a shootout. Despite the drama, Rue notes that she remained clean for the remainder of the school year, setting up Season 3’s confirmed time jump, which will exist outside the series’ typical high school setting.

Who is in the cast of “Euphoria”?

The primary cast of “Euphoria” Season 2 included: 

  • Zendaya as Ruby “Rue” Bennett
  • Hunter Schafer as Jules Vaughn
  • Jacob Elordi as Nathaniel “Nate” Jacobs
  • Barbie Ferreira as Katherine “Kat” Hernandez
  • Sydney Sweeney as Cassandra “Cassie” Howard
  • Alexa Demie as Madeleine “Maddy” Perez
  • Maude Apatow as Alexis “Lexi” Howard
  • Angus Cloud as Fezco “Fez” O’Neill
  • Algee Smith as Chris McKay
  • Storm Reid as Georgia “Gia” Bennett
  • Eric Dane as Cal Jacobs
  • Nika King as Leslie Bennett
  • Austin Abrams as Ethan Lewis
  • Colman Domingo as Ali Muhammad
  • John Ales as David Vaughn
  • Dominic Fike as Elliott 
  • Chloe Cherry as Faye
  • Tyler Chase as Custer
  • Javon “Wanna” Walton as Ashtray

While it’s clear the late Cloud’s Fez will not return for Season 3 after the actor’s unexpected death in July 2023, we also know Ferreira won’t be returning as Kat, which she confirmed via Instagram in Aug. 2022.

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Who are the casting directors for “Euphoria”?

The primary CDs are Mary Vernieu (“Promising Young Woman,” “Knives Out”) of Betty Mae Casting and Jessica Kelly (“Jackie,” “Precious”) of Chrystie Street Casting. Vernieu and Kelly also worked with CD Jennifer Venditti (“Honey Boy,” “Good Time,” “Uncut Gems”). For Season 2, the series added Bret Howe (“Knives Out,” “Cruella,” “Pam & Tommy”) to its roster.

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How does the casting process work for “Euphoria”?

Vernieu and Kelly actively sought unknown talent for many of the roles on “Euphoria” after HBO informed them that it wasn’t necessary to cast big names on the project. “In this day and age, the opportunity to discover people doesn’t happen that much anymore,” Vernieu told IndieWire. “You want someone who has some value. It’s a wonderful artistic process for us, to be allowed to dive in and find these characters.” The CDs combed through countless audition tapes from actors across the country. They struck gold with Cloud. Venditti’s team first spotted him on a Manhattan street, and despite his lack of professional acting credits, “he did not have to come in,” Vernieu said. “We saw the search tape; no question—he was the character.”

“There was a soulfulness, a non-actable quality. Casting, acting—it’s all alchemy. You mix the essence of who someone is with these words, and it becomes something else that you can’t write or direct. You’re looking for that chemistry,” Venditti said. “[Cloud] had this beautiful quality about him. You have this idea of what a drug dealer’s supposed to be, and he was the antithesis. He was this gentle soul, but he had an edge to him—so it was off-type. And as a result, look at how much it speaks to people.”

Vernieu means it when she says she looks for talent everywhere. “I think I drive everyone crazy,” she told us. “I’ll see someone on a commercial, and I’ll say, ‘Find that person.’ Or I’ll see someone on the street, and I will go up to them if they’re exactly right and I’m really needing that role—especially with kids…. I try to see everything I can, whether it’s a play or a TV show or movie. I try to make sure that I’m really current.”

Similarly, Venditti’s specialty includes auditioning and discovering unknowns—finding the perfect person for each part no matter where they come from. “I don’t limit my casting; I don’t think anyone can anymore,” Venditti told Backstage. “We’re not on the street for everything. For ‘Euphoria,’ we found a lot of people online. I feel like street casting isn’t always the appropriate way, because a lot of it is just doing research out of the box. It’s not relying on the same resources that everything else is relying on. I don’t care about social media numbers at all, but we do look at YouTube. We look at interviews and research.”

As Venditti told us, she does not refer to their approach as “street casting” because it takes place across multiple platforms. “A lot of projects I do, we offer an online open call, because I also believe in giving opportunities for people to be discovered,” she shared. “When we open it up, you can see what’s special about [the actor] and what they can bring to this character. That’s what non-actors do; they have life experience. To be a good actor is not just [about] taking acting classes and talking about auditions. It’s living life so that when you come into a room, you have experience that might lend [itself] to the role.”

When does filming for “Euphoria” Season 3 start?

Filming for “Euphoria” Season 3 is officially set to begin in Jan. 2025, with all principal cast members returning. Executive vice president of HBO programming and head of HBO drama series and films shared the news with Variety, saying, “I am thrilled that we are ready to begin production on ‘Euphoria’ in January. We could not be happier with our creative partnership with Sam and this incredible cast. We look forward to bringing this new season of ‘Euphoria’ to life for the fans.” 

Although “Euphoria” was renewed in 2022, filming for Season 3 was significantly delayed. The WGA strike halted the show’s writing efforts in 2023, and as HBO executive Casey Bloys told Variety in June 2024, Levinson spent extra time ensuring the time jump would make sense for the characters. 

With that said, Bloys told the outlet Levinson found “a take that he’s excited about.

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Where can you find “Euphoria” casting calls and auditions?

Currently, there are no casting calls available. However, “Euphoria” used Backstage to cast Season 2 (for a leading role, no less!), so there’s a chance the team could cast with us again.

In the meantime, we recommend bookmarking our main casting page for HBO gigs. You can also peruse our in-depth guide on how to audition for HBO for more advice.

What are the best audition tips for landing a role on “Euphoria”?

Check out these five acting tips from the current cast and casting directors:

1. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.

According to Venditti, confidence goes a long way in auditions. “Be the most dynamic, honest, truthful version of yourself. For me, when someone comes into the room and I can see that they just completely embody who they are—they’re not apologetic and they’re not trying to be who they think I want them to be—that’s the most attractive. There’s nothing worse than someone who’s desperate to be what they think I want them to be,” she explained. “Even if they’re not who I want them to be for that part, if they are 100% authentic in who they are, they might be right for another part. When they’re pretending to be something they aren’t, I can’t put them out for anything.” 

Even Zendaya endured her fair share of rough auditions over the years—but she said things were more likely to go wrong if she wasn’t being true to herself. “There was a lot of not getting the audition that I wanted and often going out for parts that weren’t written for a girl who looks like me and just saying, ‘Hey, see me anyway,’ until the right thing stuck,” she told Marie Claire. “Whenever I’ve been persuaded or trying to do something to please somebody else or because there’s pressure from people in general to make a decision, it always blows up in my face. So I have been in this zone of only doing shit because I want to do it and because it feels right all the way through.”

2. Learn to take direction.

CD Vernieu likes to give actors freedom in an audition room, but she stresses that it’s important not to be too locked into your process. “If the casting director in the room is saying to you, ‘Could you just do it this way?’ there’s a reason why: The producers are asking for something in particular,” she said. “Don’t argue. Sometimes, people get a little bit set on the way they’ve prepared it, and they need to be able to be flexible once they’re in the room.”

3. Stay positive, even in the face of rejection.

While acting requires you to bring a lot of emotion to the table, the audition process can bring a lot of said emotions out in you when things don’t go right. That’s why a positive outlook remains imperative, according to Vernieu. “Do the work, have a good attitude, and I always say: Leave the work in the room, because there are a million reasons why someone doesn’t get a part, and a lot of times it doesn’t have anything to do with them,” she said. “I think it’s important to maintain a positive attitude. It’s rough out there, and you just have to keep at it; the right thing will come along if you’re working hard and trying.”

4. Don’t let fear take over.

Fear has a way of holding people back. It prevents actors from taking chances that could make or break their career. And as Zendaya noted, actors must free themselves from the notion that they might fail. “I think something that many actors have, which is something you learn, is that you can’t be afraid to look stupid; you can’t be afraid to mess up; you can’t be afraid of anything,” she told Interview Magazine. “I’m trying to apply that to other parts of my life, because I’m always afraid to do things in fear of not being great. But the only way to get great is to be fearless and try.”

5. Don’t over-prepare.

Sweeney, who plays Cassie, told Backstage that her audition process has evolved over the years. She found that intense audition prep made rejection more challenging—so she’s learned to ease up while still staying invested. “I stopped building books for the auditions,” she explained. “I imagined the world in my head, and I would prepare my lines and research anybody I auditioned with and watch their work and see what they like, and then go in there and feel it out. Sometimes, you think the way the character is is completely different from what they want, and you can’t put that on yourself.”

Check out Backstage’s TV audition listings!