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Zendaya on how season 2 of ‘Euphoria’ is both ‘really funny’ and ‘really painful’

"I think it’s far more emotional than the first season."

When “Euphoria” premiered in 2019, the HBO drama was praised for its raw honesty and realistic portrayal of teen characters.

And the show’s second season, which premiered Sunday, will be even more emotional, star Zendaya told TODAY.

“It’s a very different season, to be honest,” said Zendaya, whose character, Rue, struggles with drug addiction. “I mean, tonally, it’s different. I think it’s far more emotional than the first season. ... Much like the film stock that we use this season, which is also different, it’s high contrast, meaning the highs are high, the lows are low. And when it’s funny, it’s really funny. And when it’s painful, it’s really painful.”

Zendaya plays Rue on "Euphoria."HBO Max

Hunter Schafer, who plays Jules, a transgender girl who becomes close with Rue in season one, weighed in on the pair’s current relationship.

“I think they’re in a kind of a tough position, just because after their falling out at the end of season one, Rue relapses, as we find out very quickly, and Jules isn’t in the loop, and doesn’t know,” Schafer said. “While they do, like, reconvene, there’s, like, a lot under the surface that will most likely bubble up and bring the former issues to surface again, which is going to be tough for them, because I think like surface-level feelings, they just want to be, like, a cute couple. But, you know, it’s more complicated than that.”

Hunter Schafer plays Jules on "Euphoria."HBO Max

Storm Reid, who plays Rue’s younger sister, Gia, reflected on growing up with the character since she joined the show in season one.

“There has been growth, and there has been more understanding of what Rue is going through and her addiction and her mental health,” Reid said. “But Gia has to realize that she is human, and she has the right to not neglect her own feelings in all of this. So I think we get to see her grow up, and I have grown up with her. So I’ve just been been super-duper grateful that I have been able to play a character that is so real, and is so grounded, and that isn’t perfect. So I’m lucky.”

Jacob Elordi plays Nate on "Euphoria."HBO Max

Jacob Elordi, who plays manipulative jock Nate, said being part of the show is “a treat.”

“You can’t even put that feeling into words,” he added. “It’s incredible.”

Sydney Sweeney, whose season one storyline tackled teen pregnancy, said the best part about playing her character, Cassie, is that “her choices are very unexpected.”

“I enjoy the challenge of going on a roller coaster with a character like that,” she added. “So, yes, it’s a challenge. But I find that part the most fun.”

Zendaya said she feels “incredibly grateful” for “Euphoria.”

“To me, when people have come up to me, at least, and shared their stories, whether it be of sobriety or other entry points to different characters that they feel connected to emotionally, that’s when I’m like, ‘You know, this is worth it’. Like, what we’re doing means something to somebody and that’s all we could ever really hope for. That’s the point. You know, that’s the purpose.”

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