But according to a new Variety interview with casting director Jennifer Venditti, the complicated role was very close to going to an unknown, up-and-coming actor.
“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,” Jennifer said.
“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.”
Jennifer also shared that she and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson did connect the newcomer with an acting coach in hopes of acclimating her with the emotional pressure, but ultimately, they just didn’t feel like she was ready.
But when it came to Zendaya’s audition and performance, the former Disney Channel star left Jennifer and Sam floored.
“It’s so interesting,” Jennifer added. “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.”
I couldn’t agree more with the incredible way Zendaya tackled such a complex character, but now I’m always going to be wondering who this mystery actor is that almost made the cut.
To read more behind-the-scenes casting secrets about Euphoria, check out Jennifer’s full Variety interview.