"It's kind of a big f---ing mess," says the HBO actress of the Rue-Jules-Elliot love triangle. "I don't think his intentions are ill, but it's certainly messy."

Euphoria star Hunter Schafer isn't quite up to date on fans' questions and concerns for the state of her beloved character Jules.

"I really haven't been looking or talking about [the show] that much," she tells EW over the phone. "Especially as it's coming out and it's everywhere, it can be overwhelming, so I try to avoid it a little bit more in day-to-day conversation and stuff."

However, after an emotional, revelatory episode, the actress does see why viewers may have doomsday predictions for her character's two love interests Rue (Zendaya) and Elliot (Dominic Fike). "I definitely think there's validity in saying this might be the worst we've ever seen Rue. And there's more than enough reason to be worried about her and Elliot."

Read on to see Schafer share what it was like for her and Zendaya to pay homage to iconic love stories, her thoughts on Jules's sexual identity, and whether or not she feels Jules was aware of truth about Rue's sobriety.

Hunter Schafer Euphoria
Hunter Schafer in season 2 of HBO's 'Euphoria.'
| Credit: HBO

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did Jules's plot change the most after the hiatus? You've said before that the special episode was so influenced by your quarantine experience, I'm wondering if that reshaped season 2 as well.

HUNTER SCHAFER: No. The special episode feels like it exists in a bit of a vacuum between season 1 and season 2 because the time and space Jules is in at the time that the special episode happens is also a bit of a vacuum between like the first semester and starting the new year at school. And so it felt more like a space to just play with the character and the inner workings of her head, and what she's ruminating on at the moment versus something that I think would've changed much of the structural plot in season 2. Because yeah, most of the special episode, I can't say much plot-wise actually happens. It's really just a therapy session and micro plots within her head, but nothing really happened that significantly altered where [creator] Sam [Levinson] was gonna take Jules this season.

How was it shooting the opening of this episode, where you and Zendaya pay homage to a bunch of iconic pop culture romances?

Oh my gosh, that was so much fun. It was sort of sprinkled throughout filming when we got to film those, but it was always a really exciting day when we saw that on the schedule because we knew we were going to probably get into some wild costume, and have to do something insane, whether it's like massaging a clay d--- on a pottery table, or aggressively making out as Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in like Brokeback Mountain. We had a live pony there for that. Just the most wild, out-of-pocket filming circumstances that I would never normally have gotten to work on this end. I was really excited.

Is there a favorite thing that you paid homage to?

I mean, I love Brokeback Mountain. I also like [that] it's also something I never would've thought I would be offered to emulate on film, so that was really cool. And that was fun for me and Z just because we got to do our Southern accents and act like kind of old withered Southern dudes who were secretly gay for each other. It was just fun on set for that. And also Ghost. I mean, I love that scene from Ghost, it's so iconic. But also just getting to play with the pottery wheel while we were filming. That was really fun.

Zendaya and Hunter Schafer Euphoria
Zendaya and Hunter Schafer play girlfriends on HBO's 'Euphoria.'
| Credit: HBO

The biggest concern this season seems to be Elliot throwing a wrench into Rue and Jules's relationship. In your opinion, have people seemed receptive to Elliot or are most fans still Team Rules? It did seem like people were charmed by Elliot comparing Jules to Kurt Cobain last week.

Yeah, I don't look a lot at what people are saying, but from what I've seen there's already — even without Elliot in the picture — some controversy over what people think about the nature of Rue and Jules's relationship, and whether it qualifies as something that's toxic or worth them investing their time and love and energy in. Because there is so much going on underneath the veil of that relationship on both ends. And also now at this point in the season, Rue is hiding her addiction from Jules, which also changes the nature of the relationship, so I think Jules can feel that awkward energy there, and then is not getting what she needs from Rue, which obviously makes Elliot's moves on her more tempting to give into. But also that's not objectively very good for Rue and Jules's relationship considering that would be cheating. So yeah, it's kind of a big f---ing mess. I think Elliot is just chilling and not really thinking about what he's doing, and I don't think his intentions are ill, but it's certainly messy.

Do you feel like this season Jules is coming into the relationship from a place of guilt?

At the end of the day, Jules really does love the s--- out of Rue on a soul level, but yeah, you can't divorce the aspect of guilt from the situation. I mean, one of the first things Rue says to Jules when they get back together in episode one of season 2 is Jules asks, "When did you relapse?" And Rue says "The night you left," and I think that f---ing hits Jules hard, and might feel that there's something to make up for. And I think she knows she f---ed up in parts of the relationship, so I don't think you can take feeling guilty out of it. It's all wrapped up in the tangle that is Rules [Laughs].

Does Jules have a specific label for her sexuality? She recently said she's done with men, but is now making out with Elliot.

I don't think we've ever bothered to even try and label Jules's sexuality because I think it is genuinely as fluid as it can be. She's still experimenting, she's still learning. It's impossible to put the label on it. I think she wants to be done with men based off of all these awful experiences she's had with them. It absolutely makes sense why she would be telling herself that, or why she's riding with that narrative. However, the heart wants what it wants, and it's hard to control. I think that's a tough life lesson people have to learn sometimes. Despite having an idea what you should want, or what you would like for yourself to desire, desire can't necessarily be controlled. And there's a bit of a contradiction happening in her head.

Hunter Schafer and Dominic Fike Euphoria
Hunter Schafer and Dominic Fike in HBO's 'Euphoria' season 2.
| Credit: HBO

You as Hunter mentioned that it might be cheating, but do you think Jules views her courtship with Elliot as cheating? Or is she looking at her relationship with Rue as nontraditional, and she's bringing in a third for them. Because it does feel like she and Elliot connected over their love for Rue.

By nature, if you were to like isolate Jules as a person, I would definitely consider her to be like polyamorous, just on a soul level. She's too excited about feeling love and experiencing sex to be like locked down into one thing. And I think she's capable of loving a lot of people at once, which she kind of gets into in the special episode as well. I also don't think Rue and Jules really ever talked about their relationship. They're pretty bad at that, talking about the nature of their relationship. 

Like Rue in Rue's special episode was under the impression that they were girlfriends in season 1, which from Jules's perspective was not the case because they never talked about that. They made out, but they never talked about that. And Rue eventually starts calling Jules her girlfriend, but I don't think they ever really talked about it. So the lines are blurry, and also Jules definitely has a suspicion that Rue and Elliot are a bit of a romantic or sexual thing as well. And that also plays into her desire for Elliot, wanting to be a part of that. Especially whilst feeling the distance from Rue as Rue's hiding her functional drug addiction from Jules. Jules can feel that friction, despite not knowing about it.

Speaking of the three of them, you all got a really fun robbery scene in this episode. What was the most exciting part about filming that?

Yeah, I really liked that night because a huge bulk of the scenes I do on Euphoria are like chilling in a bedroom, talking [Laughs] — which is definitely fun, but I've been wanting to try more active, choreographed stuff. And so actually getting to run around the store and do a little dance, trying to get past this store clerk and stuff  like that was fun. To switch it up from the usual hanging out in the bedroom, talking s---, to get something more action-y, was definitely an exciting evening.

Hunter Schafer Euphoria
Hunter Schafer in HBO's 'Euphoria' season 2.
| Credit: HBO

Sadly the next scenes are devastating, with Rue saying that she can't stand Jules, and then Elliot later revealing that Rue fully relapsed this whole time. Do you think that Jules is completely taken by surprise by that, or is her reaction to those revelations more about her confirming her suspicions?

I think Jules has been angsty about Rue slipping considering the smoking weed aspect. Jules, being in the position of someone who's loving a drug addict, knows that drugs have been reintroduced into Rue's day to day life, despite knowing that weed is relatively mild compared to Rue's preference of opiates, it still makes Jules nervous. However, I do think Rue, like Rue said, has been good at her job as far as hiding her functional addiction from Jules. And I also don't think Jules anticipated Elliot being a player in that situation either. Because when you look at it, they were good at their job. They were being really f---ing sneaky. And maybe there was another part of Jules that was in denial. I think she probably could have picked up clues and tried to figure it out if she was looking for it, but I don't know if she even wanted to be looking for it. That's a really ugly truth to have to face.

And then real quick, are you the one who says "Since before we ever existed" at the end, and was that connected to what Rue was saying?

Yes, that's something Sam wrote in, and I just did it. Yeah, I'm not entirely sure why that was though.

It worked for me though. But finally, what can you tease about what's next for Jules?

I guess, because I already kind of said it in this interview, I would end it hopefully vague enough: Facing hard truths.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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