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“What everyone’s seeing on television, the shots that people are talking about, the feelings that they get, the conversation that’s around the show, that’s because certain shots take 30-something takes,” says Elordi of the dialogue around the 2022 Emmy-nominated hit HBO drama’s intense shooting schedule, which has been described as “complex” by the network.
Elordi previously defended the Sam Levinson series’ long shooting days, describing them as sometimes being 16 hours, after anonymous background actors voiced on-set complaints in a Daily Beast article. “It’s kind of like the labor and the love of the work. You can’t do that stuff in a short amount of time,” said Elordi of his commitment to playing the toxic and tortured teen for two seasons, and will again for an upcoming third, to The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year.
The 25-year-old Australian described working on the set of Euphoria as “an absolute treat,” and praised writer-creator-director Levinson’s approach. “When I’m working with Sam, I’m in the trenches with him, and I trust him, and I work myself to the bone for him,” Elordi told GQ staff writer Clay Skipper at Twentynine Palms, where the actor is on a respite while preparing to star in Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn. “I think I’ve read people saying, ‘Look, that’s a bad image to set, you shouldn’t have to work yourself to the bone for art.’ Fuck that. I enjoy it.”
Elordi, who says he honed his acting craft by reading biographies and profiles, watching films and emulating the classic Hollywood looks of Daniel Day-Lewis and Steve McQueen, also shared insight into how he approaches playing the role of Nate, who is aptly described as a “predatory maniac” in the profile, given his history with the female characters on the high-octane teen drama.
While straddling both the worlds of sports and theater in high school, he credited an early role as Oberon, the King of the Fairies, for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as being transformative to subverting expectations around gender lines, and ultimately helping to inform how he plays Nate.
“When they said I was gay, I remember leaning into the makeup,” he recalls of his peers’ response. “I was like, if I’m going to be the King of the Fairies, I’m going to be the fucking hottest King of the Fairies you’ve ever seen.”
Continuing, “I stepped away from beer culture and from sport culture, and I was like, well, if you think this is gay, I’m going to be who I am when I was your friend, which is this hetero guy, but I’m going to play the arts. I’m going to do it, and I’m going to show you that’s bullshit. I could never understand — how could you label anything, ever? How could you label sport as masculine? How does your sexuality inform your prowess as an athlete, or your prowess as a performer?”
Finding that balance of part-jock and part-thespian is what he carries with him to play Nate, says Elordi: “I hope that’s what the performance is in Euphoria. It’s muscle and heart. It’s Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando.”
Elordi also recounted how his breakout role in the Netflix franchise The Kissing Booth delivered overnight fame (he went to bed the night the first YA film debuted on the streamer and woke up to four million new Instagram followers) and shared how he went to “war” over his character’s smoking. “I remember saying, ‘He smokes in the book. I need to smoke. He needs to have cigarettes. He’s a bad boy,’” Elordi says in the profile, referencing the novel penned by Beth Reekles.
However, the powers-that-be declined Elordi’s request. “I was like, ‘This is bullshit.’ I remember going to war for it. I was like, are we lying to the fucking millions of 14-year-olds out there? This guy smokes nicotine. It says here on page four — look! I imagine people were just like, Jesus fucking Christ. Is this guy serious?”
Elordi also said he was quite serious about a desire to quit the business after The Kissing Booth. It “might sound quite sensitive and dramatic, but I am sensitive and I’m very dramatic,” he says of wanting to throw in the towel due to the sudden rush of fame. “I hated being a character to the public. I felt so far from myself.”
Chris Gardner contributed to this story.
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