Zendaya almost lost ‘Euphoria’ role to unknown actress: “We all loved her”

"We didn’t know if she could handle what it would take in terms of stamina"

Euphoria casting director Jennifer Venditti has revealed that Zendaya’s role nearly went to a first time actress.

Speaking to Variety, Venditti said that Zendaya was always first choice for the part of Rue – a troubled teen with a drug addiction – but at one stage the HBO series had its eye on an unknown talent.

“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, in reference to Rue’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 rigour of the process, we didn’t know if she could handle what it would take in terms of stamina.”

Venditti went as far as to assign the young star an acting coach in the hope of preparing her for the emotional weight of the show. However, she and series creator Sam Levinson weren’t convinced that she was ready to take on the project.

“It’s so interesting,” Venditti added. “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.”

Zendaya. CREDIT: Getty Images

Venditti also discussed Hunter Schafer’s casting as Rue’s love interest Jules, explaining how she was primed to succeed in the role despite being a model with no previous acting experience.

“I reached out to her agent and they originally passed,” said Venditti. “[The actor] had to be open to any kind of sexual situations. So imagine that you were not really thinking of acting, and someone brings an opportunity with possible nudity.


“I was like, ‘Can we just meet?’ Obviously, I’d respect her decision if that was something that ultimately she wasn’t comfortable with. But I didn’t feel comfortable just not having a discussion about it to see what her thoughts were and to explain what it was.”

Venditti went on to explain how Schafer was “so present and so natural” in first audition, in which she acted opposite the first time actress who was being considered for Rue.

Elsewhere, fellow Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney recently claimed that she felt typecast after playing a highly sexualised character in the show.