The role of Rue in Euphoria almost didn't go to Zendaya, casting director Jennifer Venditti explained in an interview with Variety.
"There was a young woman who had been street scouted by my team who was a magical person and had a similar trajectory as Rue and had come around to the other side," Venditti said, referencing the character's struggles with drug addiction. "But with a TV show, it can be many years [of work]. 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."
Venditti connected the first-time actor with a coach in an effort to help her adjust to the emotional weight of the role, but in the end, show creator Sam Levinson didn't feel that she was ready.
"It's so interesting," continued Venditti. "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."
Venditti also revealed that Hunter Schafer, whose previous experience was in modeling and not acting, actually auditioned with the first-time actor who was considered for the role of Rue. And the casting team also set Schafer up with an acting coach.
"[Schafer] did her auditions with [the first-time actor who was being considered for Rue]," said Venditti. "And she also did something that I think is so beautiful: when it was time for the other young woman to do a scene that was hers, she showed up for her. She was so present and so natural with these other scenes that weren't hers. You find that with good actors, that's what they do for each other."
All episodes of Euphoria are available to stream on HBO Max.
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Deena ElGenaidi's writing has been featured in Nylon, MTV News, Insider, The AV Club, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @deenaelg.