Sam Levinson has opened up for the first time about his accidental overdose death Euphoria star Angus Cloud, revealing the efforts made to help Cloud find recovery, including an intervention, a rehabilitation stay paid for by HBO and series rewrites to keep his character alive as a way to excite Cloud about the future.
Levinson gave his first interview since Cloud’s death on July 31 as part of an emotional conversation People published exclusively on Monday. The report follows Thursday’s news when the Alameda County coroner confirmed his official cause of death as an accidental overdose due to intoxication from the combined effects of methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl and benzodiazepines.
Written by Danielle Bacher, the story paints a rich, layered and sometimes devastating portrait of Cloud’s life and includes interviews with his mother, Lisa, uncle Kevin Cloud, friend Daniel Aguilera, who was with him in the hours before he died, and Euphoria collaborators Levinson and Emmy-winning star Zendaya. Cloud, who struggled with grief following the death of his father in May, is best known for playing drug dealer Fezco in two seasons of HBO’s gritty series that revolves around a group of high school students as they deal with relationships, trauma and abuse. , friendship and substance use.
Levinson explained that he originally planned to kill off Fezco’s character at two points during the show, but he kept changing his mind. “Angus was going to die at the end of the first season, but I loved him so much,” Levinson revealed. “The first thing I noticed about him was that he had those Paul Newman eyes… and his audition tape where he said his name was Angus Cloud and he was ‘6 feet tall.’ It killed me. He was perfect. I think part of the problem is that sometimes I would put actors before the show. So I thought, ‘Okay, I can’t kill him because what does he have to look forward to?’”
It’s impossible to ignore the similarities with the series’ storylines and the experiences of the creative team. Euphoria is inspired by Levinson’s own struggles as a teenage addict. Zendaya’s character, Rue, battles her addictions throughout the first two seasons and one of her problems is the loss of her father. Another actor on the show, Dominic Fike, recently revealed that he is a drug addict and was almost fired because he was so “confused” during many film shoots. Cloud’s best friend Lilita claimed that she and Cloud smoked weed on set after his first scene with Zendaya. “I’m like, ‘Bro, we can’t do that,’” she said People. “But he says, ‘It’s okay. The cast members are cool as long as those little bastards don’t see us.” Levinson responded to the claim by saying he was unaware of any such drug use. “I would have kicked him off the set if he smoked weed,” he said.
But its use became apparent. His mother Lisa said her son was injured during the pandemic while fleeing police after almost being caught tagging in Los Angeles. He cracked his calcaneus, the large bone in the heel, and required further treatment, including surgery. Cloud refused, his mother said. “That’s actually the root of his drug-seeking behavior, I think. It was extremely painful. I was pushing him. I’m like, ‘You’re not going to start season two for at least another four months. Do that heel surgery. It’s a four-month recovery. Do it now,” she said.
Somewhere around the beginning of the second season, Levinson saw that his actor was in trouble, so he suggested rehab. “I looked him in the eye and I knew he wasn’t doing well. At the same time, I’ve been in these situations before where you’re trying to get someone to come clean. And I just told him, ‘I love working with you and we have a great season planned and everything, but I need you to be down to earth because I need to be able to rely on you.’
According to the magazine, HBO paid for Cloud to participate in a 30-day rehabilitation program. Once completed, Cloud returned to the set while treatment continued for three months in an outpatient program. “I could always get the feeling that he didn’t want (sobriety) as much as we all wanted for him,” Levinson explained. “That’s where it gets tricky, because the whole world wants it for you. But he didn’t want it. It’s just the self-destructive side of addiction and it outweighs everything. But you can’t give up on people. I didn’t let anyone give him up.”
The cloud fell back sometime in the middle of the season, after which Levinson made an intervention. After wrapping the fifth episode, Cloud, wearing Rue’s red hoodie, got into a car with Levinson and his pregnant wife, Ashley, an executive producer on the series, and they took him to rehab. Although the timing is unclear, Levinson informed Cloud of plans to have Fezco die in a hail of gunfire in a later episode. But again, Levinson changed his mind when he saw Cloud’s reaction.
“I just saw the blood pouring out of his face. I think the hardest part is when you have addiction issues, it’s about finding your purpose and finding your meaning in life. All I knew is that he loved making this show. He loved the crew. He loved the actors. He loved everything. And I just thought, if this goes away, I don’t know what’s going to happen in his life,” Levinson said. ‘We have to keep him close. He’s too special. It doesn’t matter what the damn story is.”
Instead of Fezco falling victim to gunfire, his younger brother Ashtray, played in Javon Walton’s series, dies in the season finale. After wrapping production, Levinson said he and Cloud took a four-hour walk at Levinson’s house, during which they discussed sobriety and the need for Cloud to be clean for season three. He recalled the actor telling him, “No, no, I’m fine. I am fine.’ I could tell at that moment that it seemed like he wasn’t interested. He wasn’t going to do anything, and yeah, he didn’t want to do it,” said Levinson, who at one point also refused to let Cloud come to the set unless he was clean.
Zendaya described Cloud via email People saying that “he was one of the most unique and genuine people” she has ever met. “He immediately felt like a little brother; ironic because we were playing characters with the exact opposite dynamics,” the actress wrote. “I am lucky to have experienced the most beautiful parts of him. I got to watch him create and I got to see him discover that he was an actor. A damn good one too, and no matter how many times I would tell him or compliment his performance, I don’t think he ever really believed it.