Breaking Down the Hellish New Year's Eve Party in the 'Euphoria' Season 2 Premiere
Members of the cast explain how the hook-ups and fights went down while filming the first major party of the season.
This story contains spoilers for Euphoria Season 2, Episode 1.
After two and a half years, Euphoria finally returned for Season 2 on January 9th with a premiere that largely unfolds in a place that the HBO drama is very familiar with: a party. It's, appropriately, one of the biggest parties there is—a New Year's Eve bash—and all of East Highland is in attendance, ready to ring in the new year in their typical style of glittery eye makeup and debauchery.
As integral as parties are to Euphoria, it never seems like anybody is having that great of a time. Because the series helmed by Sam Levinson is about a group of teenagers who are (to say the least) going through it, tears are shed, poor decisions are made, and there's the potential for bloodshed any time one of the series' infamous gatherings goes down.
Before Zendaya's Rue makes her way to the NYE blowout, for example, she appears to be at her lowest in the series thus far. Not only is she still depressed and using to cope with Jules (Hunter Schafer) "abandoning her" at the end of Season 1, she and her dealer Fezco (Angus Cloud) get caught up in a dangerous meeting with their supplier Laurie (Martha Kelly) and her associates. She ends up barely evading gun shots and an assault, but comes out of the exchange laughing—like it's nothing more than a hilarious start to her night out.
Eventually, Rue and Fezco manage to make it to the party, and when they do, we see what all of the other beloved, melodramatic teens are up to. Between the surfaces covered by open bottles, the packed dance floor, and couples making out in the swimming pool, basically everybody is a mess or creating a mess in one way or another. Jules is desperate to "black out this entire fucking stupid year," toxic love triangles are brewing, and, in no time, an already high Rue meets another addict named Elliot (new cast member Dominic Fike) to get even higher with, before inevitably making up with and lying about her relapse to Jules. With so much going on at the NYE party, we spoke to the cast about how the scene in the Season 2 premiere came together, and why it felt like a party from Hell.
When Season 1 ended, Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) had just broken up with her boyfriend McKay (Algee Smith) and gotten an abortion, and where Season 2 begins, she's just as upset: crying and sitting alone on the curb outside of a convenience store. There, she runs into a newly single Nate (Jacob Elordi), who offers her a ride to the party. There's some steamy flirtation in the car on the ride over, and within moments of arriving to the party, they hook up in the bathroom. It's a surprising pairing, considering Nate just ended things with Cassie's best friend Maddy (Alexa Demie)—but to make matters shocking, she ends up being on the other side of the door when her UTI demands she use the bathroom ASAP.
Thrillist: What was your reaction when you first learned that Cassie and Nate would not only be hooking up, but hooking up with Maddy on the other side of the door?
Sydney Sweeney: What's crazy was the first time I ever heard that that storyline was happening, Sam [Levinson] called me and I was at a baseball game. I was like, "Sam, what's up?" and he's goes, "So, what do you think is the craziest thing Cassie can do next season?" I go, "Oh, God. I don't know"—I throw out some random stuff—and he goes, "No, crazier!" And I'm like, "I don't know, tell me!" And he read me the scenes over the phone and I go, "Sam, you are a madman, but this is incredible and I can't wait to see where it goes."
Jacob Elordi: I was pretty surprised with the whole Cassie/Nate relationship, to be honest, because it was it was something I never factored in when I was sort of breaking down his relationship with every character last season. You know, I was convinced he didn't think very much of her, so it was such a surprise. But then it was such a surprise to play it and see all the different parts of him that came out by taking part in that relationship.
Once Nate finally leaves, Cassie hides in the bathtub behind the shower curtain while Maddy uses the bathroom. Sydney, I have to know: How long were you laying in that tub?
Sweeney: We shot that in two different days, so I was in and out of [the bathtub] quite a bit. We became acquainted!
It feels like a horror movie when her phone starts to go off.
Sweeney: It is! It felt like that! It felt like an insane horror movie [laughs].
Why do you think Cassie and Nate are drawn to each other to begin with?
Sweeney: I think that they're both lost in similar ways. I think that they both are searching for a love that is pure and a love that has a deeper meaning. I think that there's just a different kind of connection between the two where there is an understanding and there's a glimmer of a hope of a future.
As the Cassie–Maddy–Nate dilemma plays out in the bathroom, Lexi (Maude Apatow) and Fezco (Angus Cloud) share a sort of meet-cute on the couch. They recognize each other, exchange pleasantries, and in just a few moments are talking about God, proving to share some sort of deeper connection.
What was your reaction when you learned that Lexi and Fezco would hit it off, and why do you think their relationship works?
Maude Apatow: I think they're really similar. Angus is so sweet and he is such a good listener in real life, and his character is, too. I think Lexi is just shocked that anyone wants to talk to her and is interested in what she has to say, and then after everything that goes down at the end—he's such a complicated person and I think she's drawn to him and wants to know more. I think they're sweet together! I think they're similar deep down.
Angus Cloud: I really just think Lexi and Fezco are like, Whoa, this is different. This is interesting. You're cute. You know? That's really all it takes to set something up and then they start talking and see where that goes.
After chatting with Fezco on the couch, Lexi keeps her eyes on him later in the night. She notices a tense dynamic between Fezco, Jules, Rue, and Nate from across the room, which—although she has no idea—is because Fezco resents Nate for hearing from Rue that he blackmailed Jules. When the two boys talk in the kitchen, a massive, violent fight breaks out between them, with Nate seemingly unaware of why Fezco attacked him.
The fight that breaks out is very intense. What was filming that like? Were there any doubles involved?
Angus Cloud: No, that was all us. We had some fake glass bottles. They said they were made out of sugar, but they didn't taste like sugar [laughs].
Elordi: They didn't really feel like sugar, either.
Cloud: He was taking those bottles to the dome like a champ and I was punching the fucking floor for like three hours and my arms were sore.
One thing fans love about Euphoria is its colorful, hazy aesthetics and undeniable coolness, from the wardrobe to the music, which is heightened in its many party scenes. While these high school events might not necessarily feel realistic, that's actually showrunner Sam Levinson and cinematographer Marcell Rév's intention—as they try to capture "emotional realism" over reality—making these scenes that much more alluring. Like the characters having a bad time at these ragers, though, the cast says filming them is hellish in its own way.
Obviously, you're working when you're shooting these party scenes, but does it at all feel like a party on set?
Apatow: We shot [the New Year's Eve party scene] all night, so we would start at 6pm and go until whenever the sun would rise—5am—and we were so tired! [Laughs] There were certain days, or at least for a couple hours at a time, where we would all be hanging out in the green room together, and it would feel fun like we're all hang out, but mostly we were all just trying to nap.
Sweeney: When we were all hanging out, we would all just sleep.
Apatow: We were trying so hard to stay awake!
Elordi: They do a really good job of creating the scale, though, when the cameras are moving through the rooms of hundreds of people. The thing is, we do it for so long. We shot that party for over a week, so very quickly it's like being in Hell. It's like being in a party that you don't want to be in. At all. And you can't wait [to leave].
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.