Angus Cloud on his ‘Euphoria’ breakout: “Everybody knows me now – it’s weird!”

Thanks to that season two moment, Fez is now the teen shock show's buzziest character. We meet the rising star behind TV's fave drug-dealer

Most TV drug dealers might be menacing and mean, but Euphoria’s main substance-slinger is very different. Fezco – often shortened to Fez – couldn’t be more chill, his pace throughout the show as steady as his languid drawl. So when Angus Cloud, the breakout actor who portrays him, appears on Zoom, a black balaclava covering his beard and hair, a pale green hoodie pulled up over it, it’s as if the character has jumped off the TV screen and into this one. He seems spectacularly unbothered about much and keeps the same straight face that we’ve seen in many of his scenes through most of the interview.

Today, he’s in a hotel room in Oklahoma City, getting ready to go back on the set of a movie he’s working on. Before his camera flickers into action, we’re warned that some neighbouring guests are embroiled in a screaming match. Zoom doesn’t pick up the outside noise, but if it’s still going on as we speak, Cloud doesn’t react, remaining as nonchalant as ever.

“This season has been crazy”

He has reason to be relaxed. Fez is Euphoria season two’s most-talked-about character so far, thanks to a shocking scene at the end of the first episode and the juxtaposition between its extreme violence and earlier scenes where he flirts with strait-laced high-schooler Lexi (played by Maude Apatow). “It’s been pretty crazy,” he says calmly of the reaction. “Everybody seems to like it, so that’s cool.”

The love that people have been showing for Fez – inspired by his deep moral code, despite his profession – has extended to Cloud himself. One cursory scroll through Twitter brings up fan tweets declaring him to be the “internet’s boyfriend”. The burgeoning “Fexi” relationship is clearly stirring something within people. “It’s surreal,” he analyses, sleepily rubbing a hand across his face. “Everybody knows me [now]. It’s weird.” Fame and having people recognise him on the street, he says, is still a “strange” new thing he’s trying to get used to.

Angus Cloud
CREDIT: Hector Rodriguez

Off-screen, Cloud’s live-tweeting of each week’s episode has also been causing a stir. He says he’s yet to see them all – “my manager doesn’t let me watch the entire season,” he revealed one week – so he’s watching it with eyes almost as fresh as the fans’. “We filmed for nine months, so the script was always changing, and it’s been so long since we filmed that sometimes I forget how everything happens.”

Nothing, he says, has surprised him so far in the three episodes that have aired before we speak but, given how the energy in his voice shifts when he mentions it, watching his big moment at the end of episode one excited him. In the explosive scene, Fez rings in the New Year by getting brutal revenge on high-schooler Nate (Jacob Elordi), who tipped off the cops about Fez’s operation at the end of season one, leading to a raid on his home. As everyone else at the heaving house party counts down to midnight, Fez takes a bottle to Nate’s head and then relentlessly smashes his face in while he’s lying on the floor.

“What happened to Nate was needed”

“I was like, ‘Damn, he over-killed him!’” Cloud says, grinning. “He was going for, like, 30 seconds. Like, damn!” When he first found out about the scene, he was “excited”: “I thought it was what needed to happen [to Nate].”

Filming that scene was draining. It took, as the actor recalls, “a big chunk of the day”, which included him punching the air for around three hours. “It was pretty intense,” he says. “But it was a good day.” Having to keep up that amount of energy for such a long time sounds incredibly draining, but he just shrugs and explains matter-of-factly: “It’s definitely tough, but the energy’s in the room, so you just feed off of that, y’know?”

Angus Cloud
CREDIT: Hector Rodriguez

Scenes like that savage, one-sided fight and depictions of drug addiction, crime and sex have drawn as many critics to Euphoria as they have fans. Like soapy noir Skins before it, its detractors claim it’s not realistic for most teenagers. While Cloud agrees that might be the case, he doesn’t see it as a problem. “It’s probably not realistic for everybody,” he dismisses. “But we can all find something to relate to [within it].” He speaks from experience, saying he himself relates to “a bunch of different aspects” of the show. What those aspects are he’s less willing to share – and brushes off our push for more details with an “I dunno”.

There might be similarities between Cloud and Fez, but their youths were quite different. The 23-year-old actor was born and raised in Oakland, California to Irish parents and had planned to move to Ireland before getting thrown into the world of film and TV. He studied behind-the-scenes crafts like set-building and lighting at Oakland School for the Arts. “I just liked the hands-on [stuff],” he explains. “It seemed cool, and I think I had a few buddies doing that, so I just jumped in [too].”

Once he’d graduated, he moved to New York and made his money at a chicken-and-waffles restaurant in Brooklyn. He’d never considered acting before – even when he was studying in the theatre world – until one day, a casting agent called Jennifer Venditti stopped him on the street in Manhattan with designs on making him Fezco. At first, he thought it was a scam, so he took her number instead of giving her his.

Angus Cloud
CREDIT: Hector Rodriguez

“I had listened to her talk for a while, and I was trying work out if she was valid or not,” he recalls. “[I decided she was], so that’s why I ended up giving her a call the next day.” From there, he went to a meeting at the casting company where he was put in front of a camera and asked some odd questions. “It was some strange stuff,” he says, racking his brain for examples. “Random things like: ‘What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?’ They filmed me answering, called me back another day and then I auditioned – on video and then twice for different people.”

He admits that the whole process made him feel edgy and, in a rare moment of vulnerability, notes: “I get nervous all the time.” The sense of dread continued when he arrived on set for his first day. While none of his castmates were household names then, several (Zendaya, Jacob Elordi, Maude Apatow) had a substantial amount of experience under their belts. Imposter syndrome hit.

“I just felt like I didn’t know what I was doing there”

“I just felt like I didn’t know what I was doing there,” Cloud says. “I didn’t understand it at all – I still don’t.” Although he says he’s much more comfortable on the show now, he still gets “anxious like the first day” from time to time.

Unlike most jobs, acting is a constant cycle of ice-breaking and bonding exercises. Having to break into a new clique on every project gives Cloud some anxiety, but, he says, it’s something he’s getting used to: “The people make a difference.” Is he someone who can get along with anyone quickly and easily? “Yeah… if I want to,” laughs the actor, a mischievous twinkle lighting up his eyes.

Luckily, he did want to on Euphoria. He talks about the cast only in loving terms, often calling them his “family”. He’s closest to Javon Walton, who plays his adopted younger brother Ashtray – a tattooed rascal previously abandoned by his gun-wielding grandmother – but looks forward to seeing all of his fellow East Highland residents, when time permits. “Everyone’s super busy, so it’s hard to line up our schedules, but we’ll do karaoke together or something fun,” he says. So what might we find him belting into a microphone? He looks off to the side for a second and then fixes his gaze back on the camera with a grin: “Maybe [Otis Redding’s] ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay’?”

Euphoria
Fezco, played by Angus Cloud. CREDIT: HBO/Sky

Once Euphoria season two is done livening up Sunday nights (Monday mornings if you live in the UK), Cloud has plenty more projects to move on to. He’s already finished up his first movie, The Line, which stars Alex Wolff, John Malkovich and Chloe X Halle’s Halle Bailey. His character, Robert DeWitt, is quite different to the one he’s known for right now. “He’s a frat kid,” he explains. “There’s definitely more of a comedy side to this [than Euphoria].” Meanwhile, the project that has him in Oklahoma City right now is Your Lucky Day, which – as he puts it – follows “somebody winning the lottery, and then it all goes downhill from there”.

Still a relative newcomer to the acting world, Cloud struggles to think of a side of the job he dislikes. His favourite bit of it, though, is easier to share. “The most enjoyable part is being a part of creating something and being able to give something to the project,” he says. “It’s just cool to work in a group and create art and be a part of the process.”

So what’s next for TV’s most laidback new star? He’s in no rush to climb the mountaintop, revealing refreshingly modest career goals where other youngsters might aim higher. “I just wanna make some cool art or some cool visuals and whatnot, y’know?” he says, breezily leaning back in his chair. “We got a lot of stuff coming in, so you might see a lot of me in the future.”

‘Euphoria’ airs every Monday on Sky Atlantic and NOW