The Emmy-winning star of the HBO teen drama talks to ET about season 2.
After an extended hiatus, the hit HBO series Euphoria is finally back with season 2. “We’re incredibly excited,” says Zendaya, who leads the edgy teen drama’s sprawling ensemble as Rue, a high school student struggling to stay clean after getting out of rehab for drug addiction. Her performance in season 1 earned her the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 2020.
During a conversation with ET’s Denny Directo ahead of Euphoria’s premiere on Sunday, Jan. 9, the 25-year-old actress explains why the series’ return is so full of emotions and what she thinks about boyfriend Tom Holland’s campaign to cameo on the show.
While Holland and Zendaya recently have shared screen time together in the latest Spider-Man film, No Way Home, the former recently revealed that he wanted to make an appearance on the HBO program. “Listen, I have been petitioning for this for a long time and it has not happened yet and I'm very disappointed,” he said in December, during a Q&A with IMDb before sharing that he’s visited the Euphoria set “at least 30 times this season.”
And indeed he has, according to Zendaya. “He supported me through the whole season,” she says, revealing that the two have “talked about it.” The star adds, “You know, we joke about sneaking him into the background and seeing if someone can spot him.”
When it comes to season 2, however, don’t expect to see Holland making a secret cameo. But it certainly seems like a possibility down the road, should the series get renewed.
In the meantime, Zendaya says "there’s a lot of emotions that are attached to this because this show, unlike anything else, is so personal.” And it’s been such a long journey to bring season 2 to the screen.
After season 1 concluded in the summer of 2019, HBO renewed Euphoria and the series went back into production in March of the following year before the coronavirus pandemic led to extended shutdown. While the series released two special, standalone episodes in the winter of 2020, filming of season 2 didn’t resume until April of 2021 and took most of the year to complete.
“We live with it for such a long time,” Zendaya explains. “I mean, it’s not like a movie where you kind of live with the character for a portion of their life and then you let go of them. We’re with these characters for a long ass time. We feel very emotionally invested in them and in the project in general.”
And that commitment isn’t limited to the cast. “We have an entire crew of people who dedicate every single day to hopefully making a beautiful piece of art that resonates with people,” she continues. “It means a lot to a lot of people. So, when it’s so close to you, you’re like, ‘OK, here’s this really emotional and vulnerable thing I just made.’”
And season 2 is just as, if not more vulnerable than the first as Rue slowly spirals out of control after relapsing and getting her heart broken by Jules (Hunter Schafer). And she’s not the only one facing consequences of decisions made in season 1 as many of her classmates, Nate (Jacob Elordi), Cassie (Sydney Sweeney), Maddy (Alexa Demie), Kat (Barbie Ferreira), Fez (Angus Cloud) and Lexi (Maude Apatow), find themselves picking up where things left off after the winter formal as they ring in the new year.
Not only are things definitely “darker,” as Sweeney teased last year while anticipation for the next eight episodes continued to build, but the new season will take fans on an emotional and satisfying journey.
“I hope you guys like it,” Zendaya says. “It’s very difficult in that way to let go of it. You’re never done with it.”
She adds, “And then you share it with the world and then it’s kind of scary sometimes. But I’m definitely proud of the work we’ve all done. I’m proud of how far all these characters have come.”
Euphoria season 2 premieres Sunday, Jan. 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.