It’s nearly impossible to think of anybody other than Zendaya as Rue on Euphoria—but it came awfully close to happening.
When it came time to cast the intense HBO drama, the network nearly went in a drastically different direction.
“There was a young woman who had been street scouted by my team,” casting director Jennifer Venditti told Variety Aug. 8, “who was a magical person and had a similar trajectory as Rue and had come around to the other side.”
For non-Euphoria viewers, Rue is a recovering drug addict on the show.
“With a TV show, it can be many years [of work],” Venditti explained. “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.”
After Venditti and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson determined the unknown actress wasn’t quite ready, they found their girl.
“It’s so interesting. A polar opposite,” Venditti said. “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.”