Film and TV

Euphoria’s casting director shares insights into decision to cast Zendaya as ‘Rue’ 

The sublime cinematic ‘coming of age’ saga that is HBO’s Euphoria, almost had a different lead actor.

Zendaya’s incredible portrayal of a down and out drug-addicted teen in the groundbreaking HBO television show ‘Euphoria’ led the actor to win the lead drama actress Emmy in 2020, and earn her another nomination again in 2022. 

Jennifer Venditti, the casting director, responsible for bringing together the incredible cast of Euphoria, has recently expressed her thoughts on the process of casting Zendaya, sharing with Variety “Sometimes, finding the right person for a role comes down to an actor’s mental preparation, not just the strength of the performance”, and says the role of Rue, almost didn’t go to Zendaya, that it almost went to someone else.

zendaya euphoria
Credit: HBO

“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 says, referring Rue’s struggle with addiction. “But with a TV show, it can be many years [of work]. We all loved her, but when we went through the rigor of the process, we didn’t know if she could handle what it would take in terms of stamina.”

Venditti connected the young actor with a coach in hopes of acclimating her to the emotional weight of the project, but ultimately, she and Levinson didn’t feel confident that she was ready: “It’s so interesting. 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.”

Look out to see if Zendaya can win her second Emmy. The 2022 Emmy Awards will be broadcast live on September 12 on NBC while also streaming live on Peacock.