Euphoria creator Sam Levinson writes harrowing stories about substance abuse and addiction for his acclaimed HBO drama , but off-screen he prefers to keep his young cast as healthy as possible.
While more and more details are becoming known about Angus Cloud’s recent death from an accidental overdose, some relatives, friends and colleagues of the late Euphoria actor are speaking out. Levinson, who discovered Cloud and gave him his groundbreaking role, revealed in a new interview with PEOPLE that he actively encouraged Cloud to seek help for his fight against addiction and even conducted several interventions.
The first intervention took place between seasons 1 and 2, after Cloud appeared visibly unwell in Levinson’s office. Levinson proposed rehab to Cloud and his family, and it was the first time Cloud’s mother, Lisa, realized that her son had a drug problem.
“I looked him in the eye and I knew he wasn’t feeling well,” Levinson told the network. “At the same time, I’ve been in those situations where you’re trying to clean up someone. And I just said to him, ‘I love working with you and we have a great season planned and stuff, but you have to get sober because I can count on you.'”
Cloud participated in a 30-day inpatient rehabilitation program paid for by HBO, and then continued outpatient rehabilitation for another three months. But Levinson said he realized it wasn’t working. “I could always sense that he didn’t want [sobriety] as much as we all wanted for him,” the author and filmmaker told People. “It’s going to be difficult because the whole world might want it for you. But he did not want to. It’s just the self-destructive side of addiction and it overcomes everything. But you can’t give up on people. I wouldn’t let anyone give him up.”
When Cloud relapsed during the filming of season 2, Levinson intervened again. “You need help and you need help now,” he remembers Cloud saying. After filming the fifth episode of season 2, Cloud allowed Levinson and his wife to take him to rehab for the second time.
Levinson recalled that Cloud was referring to Euphoria’s main character Rue (played by Zendaya) and her own addiction struggles in the series. “Oh shit, I feel like Rue,” he said, according to Levinson. “All right, do us a favor and don’t run away,” Levinson said, referring to a moment in the series when Rue jumps out of a car in the middle of an intersection while her mother and sister are trying to drive her to rehab.
Levinson also admitted that he granted Cloud’s character, the lovable drug dealer Fezo, a grace period from death on the show several times to help Cloud. The first time that Fezo was supposed to die was towards the end of the first season, but Levinson did not want to stop working with the actor.
Fezo was then to be eliminated in season 2 until Levinson broke the news to Cloud and realized the possible consequences. “I could see the blood running down his face,” Levinson said. “I think the hardest thing is when you have addiction problems – it’s about finding your purpose and purpose in life. The only thing I knew was that he loved doing this show. all about it. And I thought that if this ends, I don’t know what will happen in his life.
Levinson decided to change course and told his team, “I can’t do this. I can’t kill him. We have to keep him close. He is very special. It doesn’t matter what the damn story is. .”
As season 2 came to an end, Levinson tried to keep Cloud healthy by refusing to let him go on set if he wasn’t clean. Levinson said that during the filming in February 2022, he and Cloud had a four-hour conversation about Cloud getting sober for the third season. “No, no, I’m fine. I’m fine,” Levinson recalled when Cloud told him. But he said: “I could tell at the time that it was like he wasn’t interested. He wouldn’t do anything and, yes, he didn’t want to.”
Cloud died on July 31 at his family’s home in Oakland. The coroner ruled that the cause of death was “acute poisoning due to the combined action of methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine and benzodiazepines”.” Cloud was 25 years old.