[This article contains mild spoilers about Euphoria. You’ve been duly cautioned.]
HBO’s Gen Z, Zendaya-led teen drama Euphoria might walk a shaky line between sincerity and sensationalism, but critics (including our own Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya) are nearly unanimous in praising first-time actress Hunter Schafer. As Jules, a trans girl navigating the even-more-perilous-for-her waters of teen sex, drugs, love, and semi-anonymous hookup apps, Schafer told Seth Meyers on Tuesday that her journey from model to prestige cable actress has been similarly fraught, especially when her joy at landing the role of Jules contended with necessarily intense auditions in rooms full of HBO execs.
Noting that her three audition scenes contained enough explicit stuff to make anyone blush (as Meyers showed, certainly), Schafer explained that, of the three, the one where Jules undergoes a “dick pic tutorial” was the least trying. “It’s great that that’s the one that we can explain out loud,” joked Meyers, calling out Schafer’s soft-pedaled description of the gig to her parents as being “a little risqué” as “definitely, like, a way a grandmother would describe something.” Still, Schafer said that her pastor dad keeps handy the dad-like mantra when watching her scenes, “She’s acting, she’s acting.”
For all the initial embarrassment involved in getting the role of Jules, the chipper Schafer told Meyers that she’s at least a bit more grounded than her troubled character. An activist before becoming an actress (Schafer lobbied against her home state of North Carolina’s anti-trans so-called “bathroom bill” while still in high school), Schafer reassured Meyers that, while she’s not wholly unfamiliar with what Meyers called “dating apps, and not the kind that would be on, like, Match.com commercials” (he means Grindr), “falling in love over social media” is a simple fact of teenage life these days. Meyers, whose kids are one and three at this point, joked about his own dad fears about coming home ten years from now to find his son “having sex with a meme.” (Which does open up a lot of fairly unsettling possibilities that you’re thinking about right now whether you want to or not.) At any rate, the engaging Schafer seemed refreshingly well-adjusted about starring on a show Meyers called “a public service announcement against social media,” explaining that her modeling career (and especially the infamous New York “model apartments”) showed that the adult world has its own share of issues to deal with before talking down to those darn kids, what with their apps, and fax machines, and hula hoops, and so forth.