HBO denies ‘Euphoria’ complaints made by unnamed background actors, crew

Two people talk while lying on their stomachs on a bed
Hunter Schafer, left, and Zendaya star in HBO’s “Euphoria.”
(Eddy Chen / HBO)

With HBO’s “Euphoria” on tap for a third season, several unnamed sources — apparently from the background cast and the crew — have complained to the Daily Beast about what they say were poor working conditions on the set of the hit show.

HBO responded by saying the production had complied with all guild and safety requirements, while SAG-AFTRA steered clear of talking about any specifics.

Among the allegations reported Friday by the Daily Beast were overly long night shoots related to director Sam Levinson’s loose way of working, which reportedly didn’t involve using a specific list of each day’s shots. Background actors complained of late meal breaks, not being allowed to go to the restroom when they asked and not being given a proper holding area.


However, while the sources said repeated complaints allegedly drew a SAG-AFTRA representative to the set to check out the situation, a source close to the show told the Los Angeles Times that no formal complaints were ever filed with the union.

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“The well-being of cast and crew on our productions is always a top priority,” HBO said Friday in a statement. “The production was in full compliance with all safety guidelines and guild protocols. It’s not uncommon for drama series to have complex shoots, and COVID protocols add an additional layer. We maintain an open line of communication with all the guilds, including SAG-AFTRA. There were never any formal inquiries raised.”

SAG-AFTRA acknowledged that reps can be called to check up on productions.

“Advocating for professional performer work categories like background actors and enforcing contractual provisions is one of SAG-AFTRA’s core functions,” a union spokesperson said Friday in a statement.

“This includes the routine enforcement of contracts at the worksite through our National Field Services Department which is charged with resolving any on-set violations by working with the company’s production staff members to immediately correct the issue(s) in connection with performers’ employment.”

Several of the Daily Beast’s sources said that if they were asked, they wouldn’t return for another “Euphoria” season unless changes were made.

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“Creatively, it must be a dream, but logistically? Come on,” one source told the outlet, talking about Levinson deciding what to shoot without planning in advance. “It felt very privileged on that set.”


A handful of background actors who spoke with The Times recently about their “Euphoria” experiences didn’t mention any mistreatment on set. However, Kathryn Engel said a scene in which Cassie Howard (played by Sydney Sweeney) melts down required more than 15 takes before everyone was satisfied with the results.