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Multiple HBO Stars Have Complained About Racy Scenes on This Hit Show

Euphoria actors say their concerns were heard, however.

The hit HBO series Euphoria has come under fire for many different reasons, from worries about its depiction of teens using drugs to viewers upset about the direction of its storylines. And there have been a number of concerns coming from those working on the show, too. In various interviews, multiple Euphoria stars have voiced complaints about the racy scenes in the show, with some actors saying they directly asked for these scenes to be changed.

The accounts from the actors indicate that when they asked Euphoria's creator and writer Sam Levinson to make certain scenes less graphic, he agreed and they felt more comfortable. Still, with multiple stars coming forward, it raises questions about there being so many gratuitous moments in the first place and whether the actors should have been in a position where they'd need to speak up—and feel comfortable enough to do so. Read on to see what Euphoria actors have had to say about their work on the set.

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Sydney Sweeney asked to undress in fewer scenes.

Sydney Sweeney at the LACMA Art+Film Gala in 2021
DFree / Shutterstock

In an interview with The Independent in January, Sydney Sweeney, who plays Cassie on Euphoria, explained that she has taken concerns about racy scenes to Levinson, who has been receptive.

"Sam is amazing," she said. "There are moments [in the new season] where Cassie was supposed to be shirtless and I would tell Sam, 'I don't really think that's necessary here.' He was like, 'OK, we don't need it'. I've never felt like Sam has pushed it on me or was trying to get a nude scene into an HBO show. When I didn't want to do it, he didn't make me."

Sweeney's interview also noted that Euphoria has an intimacy coordinator on set. Intimacy coordinators work with actors and production to make sure that everyone is comfortable and safe during intimate scenes.

Minka Kelly spoke up, too.

Minka Kelly at the premiere of "Nomis" in 2018
DFree / Shutterstock

On Euphoria, Minka Kelly played a mom whose child was being babysat by one of the lead characters, Maddy (Alexa Demie). In one scene, Maddy helps Kelly's character get zipped out of a dress, but the scene was initially more risqué before Kelly spoke up.

"[Levinson] thought it would be more interesting if my dress fell to the ground," Kelly told Vanity Fair. "That was my first day as a guest on this new show, and I just didn't feel comfortable standing there naked." So, she spoke to Levinson. "I said, 'I'd love to do this scene, but I think we can keep my dress on.' He was like, 'Okay!' He didn't even hesitate. And he shot a beautiful scene and got exactly what he wanted."

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Austin Abrams was relieved when one of his big scenes was changed.

Austin Abrams at People's One to Watch Event in 2017
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In a recently aired episode, Austin Abrams' character, Ethan, performs a sensual dance routine during a school play. In the scene, Ethan and his backup dancers are shirtless and wearing football pants, but initially, Abrams was hesitant, because it was scripted that he was supposed to wear "tighty-whities" and get "lathered down in oil and [be] doing all these things," as he told Entertainment Tonight.

Similarly, Martha Kelly, who plays dealer Laurie, told Variety that she was uncomfortable with the way a scene in which her character helps Rue (Zendaya) into a bath and gives her morphine was originally written. "In the script, it is even creepier, because Laurie is helping her undress and get in the tub, and it is approaching this gross pedophilia vibe," she said. Kelly decided not to talk to Levinson about it, but was "happy" when the scene was altered.

One actor asked that their co-star be clothed in a harrowing scene.

Chloe Cherry at the Perfect Magazine Party during London Fashion Week in February 2022
Neil Mockford / Ricky Vigil M/GC Images via Getty Images

In an interview with The Daily Beast, actor Chloe Cherry explained that a scene in which she is pushed into a vent by another character, Custer (Tyler Chase), was supposed to be filmed while she was naked. "We just met and said, 'Hey, how are you?' and then shot the scene," Cherry told The Daily Beast. "It probably would've been more comfortable had we had a little more time to know each other. Sam wanted to do the scene with me completely naked and Tyler was like, 'That's a lot,' so they decided not to.

Another star called disrobing on camera "tough."

Alexa DEmie at HBO's 2019 Post-Emmy Award Reception
Eugene Powers / Shutterstock

Demie shared in a Vogue video that being exposed on camera was "tough" for her, but that she pushed through. "It was tough for me, because I'm, you know, I'm not really… I'm just not comfortable like that publicly, so it was hard for me. But it definitely, like I said, pulled me out of my comfort zone, and after I did it, and I watched it, and it's just not that serious."

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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