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[This story contains spoilers to the season two finale of HBO’s Euphoria, “All My Life, My Heart Has Yearned for a Thing I Cannot Name.”]
Angus Cloud was walking down the street in Manhattan when he got cast for Euphoria. Though he had attended Oakland School of the Arts, he had no acting credits to his name. At the time, he was working at a restaurant in Brooklyn. But the casting agent who approached him eyed him for the role of Fezco, the easy-to-root-for drug dealer on the HBO high school melodrama and a part that has turned Cloud into a breakout star.
“Apparently, he was supposed to die in the first couple of episodes,” Cloud tells The Hollywood Reporter when speaking the day after the season two finale and after another day on set, this time for a magazine photoshoot. But creator Sam Levinson changed his mind and kept Fez around. Not only did he survive the first episodes, but Cloud saw his role expanded in the second season, which opened with an origin-story flashback that peeled back the layers of a character who, oddly enough, has emerged as an anchor amid the swirling drama surrounding Zendaya’s Rue and her ensemble of friends.
“He just appreciated what I did, so he kept me going,” says Cloud of Levinson elevating his role. “I was excited. I was just ready to work.”
The irony of Levinson’s initial trajectory for Cloud is that Fezco once again finds himself narrowly escaping a tragic fate in the season two finale. A betrayal by Custer (Tyler Chase) leads to a SWAT team raid on Fez and adoptive younger brother Ashtray’s (Javon Walton) home. Ashtray, who moments earlier killed Custer for working with the police to take the brothers down over Ashtray murdering their supplier, refuses to surrender. Instead, he locks himself in the bathroom and initiates a shootout.
“It was pretty intense in there,” says Cloud of filming the raid over three 12-hour days with ex-cops playing the SWAT team roles. “It was a lot of work. I broke my voice. I was yelling and screaming. Even when the camera cut, sometimes I would turn around, and they’re still pointing the guns at me, and I’m like, ‘Oh shit. This is scary.’ Because it looks real.”
Fez gets shot in the stomach in the crossfire before watching one of the red dots land on Ashtray’s forehead. And though viewers hear the gunshot and see Fez’s anguished face, Euphoria doesn’t explicitly show Ashtray’s death. Instead, the audience sees Fez being led away in handcuffs, stepping over a now blood-stained note that he had intended to give Lexi (Maude Apatow) at her high school play, culminating their blossoming romance.
“That was probably the person he cared for most in the world,” says Cloud of Ashtray. Moments earlier, Rue, in voiceover, spoke about the impact watching her father die had on her, leading to years of addiction and self-destructive behavior. When asked about the impact Ashtray’s death will have on Fez, Cloud notes, “It’s hard to say, but I think he’s going to have some time to sit and think on it.”
Presuming Fez survives his wounds, he faces drug and possible murder charges. Though Cloud defers to Levinson when asked about what might be in store for the already ordered season three, he holds out hope for Fez, despite the circumstances: “Everyone can change, you know? He’s just a survivor. He’s going to figure out how to make the best of situations.”
Cloud wasn’t aware of Fez’s full trajectory going into season two. Typically, he says the cast will get two or three scripts at a time. But the finale script kept changing, and we “didn’t get the script until we were filming,” he says. One of the versions, according to Walton, had Fez dying in the raid. When asked about the swap, Cloud keeps things close to the chest but confirms he was informed about the change. “I think they wanted it to be as dramatic as possible.” He then adds with a laugh, “You better tell it was Javon who snitched.”
It certainly satisfies Euphoria viewers and critics alike that Fez will be back for season three. Loudest of all, perhaps, will be the #Fexi fandom — the devoted legion of viewers who have been shipping Fez and Lexi all season long, from their New Year’s Eve party meet-cute to their “Stand by Me” rendition to their star-crossed finale.
While Fez is being taken away in handcuffs, Lexi is putting on her epic high school play, and anxiously glancing over at his empty seat in the audience. She even dedicates the performance to him after it elicits a near-riot sparked by her sister Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) and best friend Maddy’s (Alexa Demie) showdown over Nate (Jacob Elordi). “Sometimes, people need to get their feelings hurt,” Lexi says, quoting Fez during the dedication.
“I’m sure it would have meant a lot to him,” says Cloud, imagining how Fez would have reacted if he had made it to the play. “I don’t think he’s really at that time in his life for those type of romantic relationships, so it’s all pretty new to him. I think he just hoped to have a classy player night, and congratulate Lexi on her accomplishments, give her flowers and hand her a note, and be nice and sweet.”
The sweet romance between Fez and Lexi stands out amid the Euphoria ensemble, with most of the other relationships being anything but PG-rated, which is why Cloud understands the appeal. “It’s like cute and innocent, and hope and light in a dark situation and world,” he says, adding, “I think it’s dope” about the fandom. “Me and Maude [Apatow] are really good friends.”
The true tragedy for the #Fexi audience is seeing Fez, dressed in his best suit, putting down the bouquet of roses designated for Lexi and never making it out the door. Watching him at that moment shows a Fez torn between who he is and who he wants to become. “It’s consequences to your actions, you know?” says Cloud of the outcome. “Nothing in life is free. Bad things happen to good people; good things happen to bad people. Bad people do good things; good people do bad things. Luck is blind.”
No matter what happens, though, Cloud believes that Fez will always remain in Lexi’s corner. And if she had been able to read his note, that would have been made clear.
“I just said, ‘I told you so,'” he says of its contents.
When looking back at the season, Cloud is proud of what the show has accomplished. Following the recent Daily Beast report about grueling set days, Cloud describes his experience of filming Euphoria as “definitely hard work, definitely putting in them long hours, but you see the outcome of it, and it’s worth it.”
What he firmly pushes back on, however, are the criticisms that the show glorifies or misrepresents teen drug use.
“I feel that it does not glorify drug use at all. If that shit looks fun to you, then I don’t know what you up to, but that shit’s no joke. It’s not fun,” he says. “Addiction is real, and it kills. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. Me, I lost friends to that shit. No, I don’t think the show glorifies drug use. I think it shows what’s real.”
And through Fez, his drug dealer with a heart of gold, and, particularly, the character’s business relationship with protagonist and addict friend Rue, he knows he is reaching viewers with the “quandary” that has played out on the show. “You’re selling drugs to somebody that you care about, and you’re helping them hurt themselves. At the same time, you know if you’re not going to help them, then someone else who doesn’t give a fuck about them will,” he says. “I had a great reaction with a fan who said that watching the show helped them get sober, and that meant a lot to me because I know how difficult that can be for someone. It’s really nice that the show can have that effect.”
Now, as he opens himself up for other projects and awaits news on his fate come season three, it’s the buzz around Fez and the hit teen drama that Cloud finds himself settling into.
“It’s a strange experience that I’m guessing not many people can relate to. I guess I’m just realizing that things can really never go back to how it was,” he says. “Because everyone knows what I look like, and they know my name and whatnot. I have to change how I move and how I act. I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it. It’s a very strange thing.”
The second season of Euphoria is now streaming on HBO Max.
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