Austin Abrams portrays Ethan in the hit drama, Euphoria. The series has already been renewed for a third season. New episodes air Sundays on HBO and HBO Max. The following interview will include spoilers for episode 2×07 “The Theater and Its Double.”
Amidst the intertwining lives in the town of East Highland, 17 year old Rue (Zendaya) must find hope while balancing the pressures of love, loss, and addiction.
I had the chance to speak with the actor about what Ethan and Kat’s breakup means for his character, doing Lexi’s play in front of a live audience, which member of the cast he wants more scenes with, why Ethan stands out compared to his past roles, his favorite memory from filming season 2, and much more. Keep reading for everything he shared with me!
We recently saw Ethan and Kat’s break up. What do you think that moment meant for his character?
Austin Abrams: Yeah, for me, it definitely feels like a real growing, adult moment. I feel like realizing that this relationship isn’t what he thought it was going to be, you know, it’s his first time in a relationship and that’s always tough because you don’t really know how relationships are supposed to be or how it’s supposed to feel. I feel like he’s navigating that and I feel like is coming more to terms and a place of realizing as much as he wanted it to work and as much as before they got into a relationship, they had a good dynamic and it kind of did work. Then now, it just hasn’t turned out to be what he thought it was. So I feel like it’s a real moment of growth.
Obviously, Ethan wasn’t really expecting their relationship to go in this direction. So after their storyline in season one, were you expecting this for season 2, or did it surprise you?
I had no idea. Well, I mean, before I talked to Sam, I had no idea. Then he mentioned that he wanted to take it to an aspect of it being realistic in terms of, I feel like when you’re younger and first starting relationships, you have an idea about what it’s gonna be like and you have an idea of the relationship, even an idea of the other person. I think he wanted to tackle that because we ended in a very kind of fairytale way. I think he wanted to go in the opposite direction and go in the way of tackling, “Okay, well, that was all nice and everything, but what does it actually look like at this point?”
The play storyline is such a fun plot. It’s actually one of my personal favorites. What was your reaction to it?
Yeah, it was cool. I’d been hearing about it, but I hadn’t read it yet. While we were shooting, producers were telling me about it and stuff. I was super excited and nervous, especially with the dancing situation and what that would be, not knowing what the choreography would be, and also having to be on a stage. I haven’t done that in a minute. And just wondering what the whole experience was gonna be like, but it was definitely exciting and also terrifying.
When you read the scenes and numbers you were going to be doing for the play, how were you feeling? Were you nervous or excited? Did it feel like a challenge?
Yeah, it felt like a big challenge. I was excited to see what it was like to be on stage again because I mean, it’s all on stage and there’s an audience. It pretty much felt like we were doing an actual play for the most part. So I was nervous for what that would be like, but it was so funny because doing it felt like home or like I’d like done it a million times because I had. It’s just been a while. So it was really cool to have that be like, “Oh, I feel super comfortable doing this.”
And getting to portray your castmates’ characters, it can’t get better than that.
Yeah, no, it was great. It was super exciting to think that I would get to play some sort of version of those characters, you know?
Are there any scenes that you are most excited for fans to see, for you to see come to life on screen, or see the audience’s reaction to?
I mean, definitely the dance number, we’ll see how that turns out. Honestly, the play overall in general. It’s very different than what the rest of the show is. Yeah, I’m interested to see, and hopefully, they dig all that.
What can you tease about the season finale?
There’s some more great scenes on the stage that I think people will really, really like. But yeah, there’s a bunch of other stuff that I don’t even know, I haven’t seen it. A lot of it, I haven’t even read. So there’s a bunch of stuff I just can’t even say because I absolutely don’t know.
That has to be fun though, to watch it live with everyone else. I have to imagine watching it is so different than reading or filming it.
Yeah, for sure, and it always changes but I love reading Sam’s work, it was always a joy. I mean, you read it and just kind of flow by. All of a sudden, you’d be done with it. I feel like that’s always a sign of something good, when you read a book and you’re not even looking at page numbers. You’re just sort of like, “oh my god, I’m done.”
Huge congrats on being renewed for a third season! Is there anything you really want to see Ethan deal with in the new season, maybe a storyline you’d like to do or something you’d like to explore deeper when it comes to the character?
Yeah, I got no idea. I don’t know what is happening or going on. I mean, I think this season for him has been a cool change and awakening. I feel like he’s just becoming more of an adult now, just having more of a backbone and standing up for himself, which I think is super cool. But yeah, I got no idea. I mean, Sam always surprises me. So hopefully, there’s something there, but he always just surprises me way more than something I could think of.
Is there anyone in the cast you wish you had more scenes with?
Oh, I would love to do a scene with Jacob! I don’t even know what that would look like but I would love to do a scene with him.
That would be amazing, but you know getting involved with Nate is…
I know, bad idea, but I wanna see… I don’t even know what that interaction would look like. That’d be such a weird interaction, especially after doing the play. I don’t know, I just wonder how he’d react to my character.
If you could do a crossover between Euphoria and any other show that you are a fan of, which would you pick?
I don’t know… honestly, I haven’t watched too many shows recently. I’ve been watching Pam & Tommy, that’s a good show. I watch Rick and Morty sometimes. I don’t know what that crossover would look like, but that would be interesting.
The show tackles so many real issues that viewers can relate to. Is there anything you’d like to see portrayed next, like an issue you haven’t touched yet?
I don’t know what we haven’t touched. [Laughs] I’m not sure. I don’t know. What do you think? Is there anything you think?
I’m not sure… I just want some happiness for them to be honest.
Some happiness, yes! For someone to be happy. I would love Nate to like… I don’t know, maybe he needs a boyfriend or something nice. [Just one episode.] Yeah, just something like that, maybe even a fantasy episode, where he goes on a nice date and has a picnic or something.
How does Ethan stand out to you compared to your past roles?
He’s just so honest and a sweet person. I feel like everything really tries to come from a genuine, caring place and that’s nice to keep exploring that honesty. It’s nice to play a character like that, that really tries to uphold certain values that he has or that he’s been taught by his parents. Also, I feel like he’s a real thinker. Yeah, I mean, that’s definitely a big difference. I feel like he’s definitely the most kind of level-headed person that I have played probably.
Is there anything you’ve taken away from portraying Ethan or the show overall?
I mean, from Ethan, it’s overall just an exploration of being more vulnerable, honest, and listening. But overall, from the show, I’ve taken from Sam and everybody just creativity and in the moment creativity, being open to possibilities of the moment. Sam is super, super creative, and is always moving and changing. He’s very open creatively and that’s been a big lesson, inspiration.
Lastly, do you have a favorite memory from filming this season that sticks out to you when you look back on the experience?
I mean, there’s this nice memory of being backstage with Maude right before one of the first times we were doing it with the live audience, where I come out as Suze. We’re kind of nervous backstage because I think we had been filming but the audience wasn’t there yet and then they had the whole audience there. We were both so nervous in that real feeling of doing a play. I remember, I came out with such energy, I kicked a hole in the door because I just kicked it with my high heels on. Yeah, that was like a sweet, sweet moment when I think about it.