Inside Rewrites, New Version of Zendaya’s Rue and a Time Jump for Season 3 (EXCLUSIVE)

By | March 29, 2024

During its two seasons on HBO, “Euphoria” has launched its young cast into superstardom and won multiple Emmys while also being a magnet for controversy — but whatever lies ahead for the Sam Levinson-created show will have to wait.

Earlier this week, HBO officially postponed the drama, which was set to begin production later this spring. “HBO-ing Sam Levinson remain committed to creating an exceptional third season,” an HBO spokesperson said Variety. “In the meantime, we will allow our in-demand cast to pursue other opportunities.”

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What the network isn’t saying is that no one at HBO is certain a third season of “Euphoria” will ever become a reality, given the differing views on the show’s next chapter. But “Euphoria” has been invaluable to the network — attracting the often elusive millennial and Gen Z viewers, as well as huge ratings — and executives from Casey Bloys and below feel they should try to complete the story.

Sources tell Variety that Levinson, who exercises complete creative control over the show and writes and directs every episode, proposed his vision for the season in the winter of 2023, with a time jump five years into the future for the former students of East Highland High School. HBO thought its pitch and early drafts for the season — which featured meaty arcs for Sydney Sweeney and Jacob Elordi that one source described as “very compelling” — were a strong start. But after the WGA strike ended and the full scripts came in, they failed to go through with it Zendaya, “Euphoria’s” two-time Emmy-winning star who is now 27 years old. (HBO declined to comment, while Levinson’s team referred to HBO’s earlier statement and declined further comment.)

Zendaya – who is in high demand in the movie world thanks to the box-office performance of “Dune: Part Two” ($580 million worldwide and counting) – and Levinson have had a creatively symbiotic relationship from the beginning of “Euphoria” . which carried over to the Netflix film “Malcolm & Marie” during the pandemic. While she doesn’t have veto power over the scripts, Zendaya as star and executive producer of “Euphoria” offered Levinson important input on where she wanted to go with Season 3. (A Zendaya rep did not respond to a request for comment.) Sources say Levinson was already in revision mode because actor Angus Cloud, who died of an overdose last July at the age of 25, played a major role in the original concept for the season. In November, “Euphoria” producer Kevin Turen died suddenly of heart failure at the age of 45, dealing another traumatic blow to Levinson and the cast and further slowing the creative process.

When Levinson turned in his revised scripts in late 2023 and early 2024, HBO executives were now the ones feeling dissatisfied. There was a new arc for Zendaya’s Rue, whose character was relegated to the background in Levinson’s first pass in a somewhat surprising storyline about her work as a private investigator that HBO immediately vetoed. Among many other ideas for the rewrites, Zendaya had suggested an idea in which Rue, now sober as a young woman in her twenties, would be a gestational surrogate. But insiders say the new scripts just didn’t feel like the show tonally.

Given all the creative differences, HBO explored other options, including the idea of ​​Levinson himself distancing himself from “Euphoria.” Other scenarios have been proposed but rejected, such as a movie or specials, such as the two one-off films that HBO aired during the pandemic: one in December 2020 and the other the following month. But sources say so Variety that not only is the show’s cast contracted for a third season, but they are all truly committed to seeing “Euphoria” — starring Levinson — to the end with a third season, especially Zendaya, Sweeney and Elordi.

The same cannot necessarily be said for their respective representatives, given the time commitment required. After the second season, HBO renegotiated the cast’s deals and gave them significant salary increases. But for Zendaya, Sweeney and Elordi, all three make far less on “Euphoria” than what they could make by making movies instead. Like Zendaya, Sweeney, 26, has had a big hit on the big screen with the romantic comedy “Anyone but You” ($217 million, despite being a title with no underlying intellectual property). Elordi, 26, has also seen his stock rise significantly following the critical success of the psychological thriller ‘Saltburn’ and is currently filming Guillermo del Toro’s big Netflix film ‘Frankenstein’.

Although Zendaya has yet to read Levinson’s new scripts, sources say the third season is not dead and could very well come together. HBO has cleared the cast for the rest of 2024 and promises to get back to them on October 1 with a solid plan to start filming in 2025. If filming were to take place, the cast would be attached to the film for 25 weeks. and the season will likely be cut from eight episodes to six — but if Levinson needed more, HBO is open to it.

Levinson is now working on the material again, as creative conversations between him and HBO continue. (He has an overall deal with the network.) The network plans to produce a final season of “Euphoria” from Levinson and his star-studded cast. Some believe the success or lack thereof of Zendaya’s upcoming film “Challengers,” which premieres April 26, could influence the fate of “Euphoria” — and of course, looming in the background is the upcoming “Spider-Man 4” , although the script for that film is still a work in progress, and there is no director or start date.

What’s not on the table for “Euphoria” goes into production without completed scripts that everyone is happy with. Levinson did that during the unprecedented situation that was “The Idol,” his troubled project with Weeknd, which was considered a creative disaster and a costly vanity project for HBO.

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