Colman Domingo defends 'Euphoria' set conditions: 'Young actors may not be up for the task'

Colman Domingo is defending working conditions behind the scenes on the set of “Euphoria,” and suggesting younger actors’ lack of work ethic could be behind the claims.

Domingo sat down with the Independent for an interview published over the weekend, and the actor addressed talk that conditions on set were less than desirable, saying that was “not one bit” his experience. Domingo portrays Ali, the 12-step sponsor to Zendaya’s Rue in the series, and his performance nabbed him an Emmy.

“There’s no one that’s going to mistreat you on the set of ‘Euphoria,’” he told the outlet. “Sam Levinson is joyful, and collaborative, and could not be a bigger advocate for his actors.”

Last year, the Daily Beast published an exposé that illuminated some of the stars of the gritty teen drama, with some attributed as unnamed sources. Allegations included 15- to 17-hour work days, disorganized shooting schedules and even disgruntled cast members storming off set. 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.

Maude Apatow, who plays Lexi in the series, confirmed to Thrillist that shooting the infamous New Year’s Eve party scene was grueling.

“We shot all night, so we would start at 6 p.m. and go until whenever the sun would rise — 5 a.m. — and we were so tired.”

Jacob Elordi, who plays bad-boy antagonist Nate Jacobs, similarly griped over the long hours to Thrillist. “The thing is, we do it for so long,” he said. “We shot that party for over a week, so very quickly it’s like being in Hell. It’s like being in a party that you don’t want to be in. At all. And you can’t wait [to leave].”

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

Sources said repeated complaints allegedly drew a SAG-AFTRA representative to the set to check out the situation, though a source close to the show told The Times that no formal complaints were ever filed with the union.

Last year, The Times’ Christi Carras interviewed several regular “Euphoria” background actors and they painted a starkly different picture. She wrote: “When they’re not absorbing lessons from the main cast and crew, chilling by the pool, busting a move on the dance floor or bustling through the soundstage halls of “Euphoria” High, the background actors spend their down time keeping each other entertained. Many of the gig workers had already connected on other series and came prepared with picnic blankets. Some made TikToks. Others shared meals while gazing at the Los Angeles skyline.”

“We’ve been in the same crowd for so long,” Nathia Rodriguez told The Times. “We’re all very comfortable with each other. So we’re all fine with looking silly and drunk in front of each other and just being absolutely belligerent. Just without sound.”

And Domingo said that long hours are all just part of a day’s work.

“I’m not gonna invalidate [anyone’s] experience, but working in television is long hours,” he told the Independent. “Sometimes you work up to 14 hours a day, and then you have to go home and prep. You have to really live and work in a very methodical way. A lot of young actors may not be up for the task or have that same work ethic.”

He continued, “I’ve been in this business for 32 years. I know what hard work is. So, when I heard those reports” — The Independent noted Domingo paired “reports” with air quotes — “I thought, ‘Where is this coming from? That’s just a normal work day.’ Be a professional.”

While the rumors surrounding “Euphoria” may have Domingo speaking about some of his younger cast mates, he has made it clear that he’s not referring to the show’s star, Zendaya. After the actor accepted his Emmy award for his “Euphoria” performance, he raved about working with Zendaya and about Levinson’s vision for the show.

“I love working with her. She’s funny, she’s super intelligent and warm,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “We have sort of the same aesthetic in the way we work. I think we both work hard. I think, privately we both like probably put ourselves through rigorous rehearsal, and then we show up available to each other.”

Domingo praised “Euphoria” as a special show, “really digging into some of the darkness in our culture and how we’re seeking the light.” The show, known for its raw and uncensored look at addiction is “trying to heal the world in many ways,” according to the actor.

“Sam writes very simple conversations with people — they’re powerful — and saying, ‘You can get better, I got you, we’re in this together.’”

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