In a recent interview, Hunter Schafer talked about exploring trans identity in Euphoria and discussed her character’s emotional backstory. Schafer, who is trans herself, took on her first acting role on HBO’s boundary-pushing drama Euphoria. She plays Jules, an ethereal, pink-haired trans girl who looks for love in all the wrong places. The fourth episode of the series tackles Jules’ backstory from childhood to adolescence, chronicling her struggles with depression, her suicide attempt, and her transition. After being released from a psych ward, Jules begins hormone therapy and starts accepting attention from married and unavailable men as an emotional escape. Schafer discussed the episode in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
After learning about Jules’ difficult past, Schafer said, “Her backstory is really emotional and not something that I necessarily expected when reading the first three episodes. I was really curious as to how that formed her into the person we’re introduced to at the beginning of the series.” She added, “As we’ve said as a cast before, each character is, in some ways, different facets of Sam [Levinson, Euphoria creator] and I think Sam brought a really potent moment of his childhood into Jules’ backstory. Obviously it’s sad and you really learn that she’s been through something transformative.”
Schafer talked about working with a trans consultant on set during scenes which pertain to gender identity. “That was really nice to know that I had another trans person around to be able to support me through moments where there might be a lot of other cisgender people around who might not be able to completely understand where I’m coming from. I think having some sense of community, even on a super-safe space like our set, it’s really important and that should be involved on any set.”
In regards to Jules’ transition as a teenager, Schafer talked about how it was important for Euphoria to show at least one supportive parent. “For Jules, it says in her story that she begins transitioning at 13 years old, which is pretty young in the scheme of trans people. To transition that young, you need the support of a parent or guardian because it’s hard to acquire the resources at that age to move forward with that process and be able to recognize all of your needs, mentally and physically. I think her dad being supportive allows her to be where she’s at when we first meet her, so it’s pretty vital.”
When asked what she wanted people to take away from the show, Schafer said: “I don’t think our show is trying to teach anyone how to act or set an example, but I hope for people who are going through experiences that feel parallel to the ones on the show that they can feel a sense of comfort or a little less lonely, not feel normalcy but some sense of recognition in the fact that they aren’t alone in the experiences they’re going through.”
Euphoria airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.