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‘Euphoria’ creator staged intervention for Angus Cloud before actor’s death

Euphoria creator Sam Levinson writes harrowing storylines about drug abuse and addiction for his acclaimed HBO drama, but off screen he prefers to keep his young cast as healthy as he can.

As details continue to emerge about Angus Cloud’s recent death by accidental overdose, some of the late Euphoria actor’s loved ones, friends, and colleagues are speaking out. Levinson, who helped discover Cloud and gave him his breakthrough role, revealed in a new interview with PEOPLE that he had actively encouraged Cloud to seek help for his struggle with addiction, and even staged multiple interventions.

The first intervention came between season 1 and season 2, after Cloud showed up in Levinson’s office visibly unwell. Levinson suggested rehab to Cloud and his family, which was the first time Cloud’s mother, Lisa, realized her son had a drug problem.

“I looked him in the eye and I knew that he wasn’t doing well,” Levinson told the outlet. “At the same time I’ve been in these situations before where you’re trying to get someone clean. And I just said to him, ‘I love working with you and we’ve got this amazing season planned and stuff, but I need you to be sober because I got to be able to rely on you.'”

Angus Cloud and Sam Levinson.
Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Cloud entered a 30-day inpatient rehab program, which HBO paid for, and then continued outpatient rehab for an additional three months. But Levinson said he could tell it wasn’t working. “I could always feel that he didn’t want [sobriety] as much as we all wanted it for him,” the writer and filmmaker told PEOPLE. “That’s where it gets tricky because the whole world can want 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 wasn’t going to let anyone give up on him.”

When Cloud relapsed while filming season 2, Levinson intervened again. “You’ve got to get help and you’ve got to get help right now,” he recalled telling Cloud. After filming the fifth episode of season 2, Cloud allowed Levinson and his wife to drive him to rehab a second time.

Levinson recalled that Cloud referenced lead Euphoria character Rue (played by Zendaya) and her own struggles with addiction on the series. “Oh, s—, I feel just like Rue,” he said, according to Levinson. “All right, well, do us a favor and don’t run,” Levinson said he replied, referencing a moment in the series when Rue jumps out of a car in the middle of an intersection as her mother and sister attempt to drive her to rehab.

Levinson also admitted that he granted Cloud’s character, the lovable drug dealer Fezco, a reprieve from death on the show multiple times to help Cloud. The first time Fezco was meant to die was near the end of season 1, but Levinson didn’t want to stop working with the actor.

Fezco was then supposed to be killed off in season 2, until Levinson broke the news to Cloud and realized the potential fallout. “I could just see the blood kind of run out of his face,” Levinson said. “I think the hardest thing is when you have addiction issues — it’s about finding your purpose and finding your meaning in life. The one thing that I knew is he loved making this show. He loved the crew. He loved the actors. He loved everything about it. And I just thought, if this goes away, I don’t know what’s going to happen in his life.”

Angus Cloud on ‘Euphoria’.
Eddy Chen/HBO

Levinson decided to change course and told his team, “I can’t do it. I can’t kill him. We got to keep him around. He’s too special. It doesn’t matter what the f—ing story is.”

As season 2 came to an end, Levinson attempted to keep Cloud healthy, refusing to let the him come to set if he wasn’t clean. Levinson said that when shooting wrapped in February 2022, he and Cloud had a four-hour conversation about Cloud getting sober for season 3. “No, no, I’m good. I’m good,” Levinson remembered Cloud telling him. But, he said, “I could tell, at that time, it was like he wasn’t interested. He wasn’t going to do anything, and yeah, he didn’t want it.”

Cloud died July 31 in his family home in Oakland. The coroner determined his cause of death to be “acute intoxication due to combined effects of methamphetamine, fentanyl, cocaine, and benzodiazepines.” Cloud was 25.

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