For WTV Portfolio 2020’s, we asked 21 of TV’s most wanted names to play their favorite characters from their favorite shows of the past few months – and why we should all (re) watch The Sopranos, Ozark, Schitt Creek, and yes, The ground is lava. To see all the images and discover their selection, click here.
Hunter Schafer may have had one of the most productive 40s you’ll hear of. At first, she spent nearly two months locked in her Los Angeles apartment writing, painting, and storyboarding non-stop. We talk day and night. Then she bought a truck and drove it from California to North Carolina, where her sister lives. It’s also possible that somewhere in there she was working on Euphoria, the HBO show in which she plays Jules, the charming best friend and lover of Zendaya, whose character is called Rue. Euphoria can be described as nothing less than a sensation: When it debuted in June 2019, HBO’s audience numbers increased by 130% within four days of the premiere of the first episode due to reruns and streaming . While Zendaya-as-Rue was certainly central to the show’s appeal, Jules de Schafer emerged as an equally intriguing person in creator Sam Levinson’s universe: a transgender teenager in search of friendship and recognition while engaging in a series of dates with older men.
But if Schafer worked on Euphoria In the past six months, the world won’t know yet – the production start date for Season 2 is still unknown, and when the 21-year-old actress calls from a hotel in LA (she lets a friend who does not have air conditioning to stay at home during a particularly inhuman heatwave), she will not reveal any information.
Instead, she shares the details of her artistic process: how she played the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion in the background on her projector without sound while she painted; her father’s obsession with comics, which led her to take an interest in Hawkwoman and the Green Lantern. Most of the time, midlife was a time of exploration for Schafer, whether it was physically, driving a car, or artistically, dragging a large marker onto a piece of paper. “I don’t know if my style of drawing or art would be considered anime,” she said. “I don’t really know what to call him. It kind of became his own thing.
You’ve said in the past that your fault is being internal and staying at home, and I’m wondering if the quarantine has changed that.
It’s really complicated. I will always and forever be an introvert. But I absolutely 100% regret all the social things that we can’t do right now, like dancing with my friends, just being assholes in town. But at the same time, before my forties, my relationship to time alone had changed: I went out a lot. I was doing something every weekend, maybe a day or two of the week. It was quite frequent; I was sort of surprised myself with that. I knew it was going to change because of the start of the work, but I didn’t know it was going to change because of a pandemic. Alas, we are there. But I feel like I’ve learned to fall in love with my alone time again after seeing it in a new light and going through all the phases of isolation in quarantine.
Why is it Neon Genesis Evangelion the show that got you through your forties?
Anyone who loves anime should watch this show; it’s a masterpiece. I just got it on a lot. I had seen him before the confinement. But in my early forties, when I was locked in my apartment writing, I still had it playing on my projector – just the visuals, no sound. I would have music. I like having a projector because you can just play things that are aesthetic, and it’s almost like a moving picture frame in your apartment. And I loved the visuals of this show. So I had a lot of it during my big creative explosion phase in quarantine. I did a hundred different things during those two months: paint, draw, write, storyboard, whatever I could get my hands on.
Was it a creative outlet for stress, or were you just feeling the inspiration?
I think it was a lot. I had free time to do art, and it was like, Oh, I’m actually terrified of the state of the world and the state of my brain right now. So it was also a coping mechanism. Besides, it’s like I don’t want to be bored. I don’t like to be bored.
Can you describe some of the works you created while the show was playing in the background?
Two months ago of shit I was doing. I was painting in oil this collapsing mouth. I had a few nights where I spread this giant roll of paper on the floor, and I filled it with this very thick black felt that I really like, with doodles.
I know you wanted to illustrate comics before you got into modeling and acting. So is it safe to say that you are a huge fan of manga and anime?
Absoutely. I grew up reading comics, as far back as I can remember, because my dad really loved them. He was an Aquaman fanatic, so I grew up largely on DC comics. My favorite characters were Hawkwoman – yes, she was definitely my favorite character – and Green Lantern too. I just loved these worlds. And then it evolved into an interest in anime, then manga, when I was in college. And then I started to find these sites that played the anime for free.
Do you have a favorite anime?
I do, this one [Neon Genesis Evangelion]. It’s a classic, if I had to say one, this would be it. But anime is a big big world, there are so many different genres. There are, like, a million other masterpieces.
I feel like the anime is having a moment right now. So many people openly talk about nervousness about cartoons. Megan Thee Stallion loves anime.
I got the anime merch from Megan Thee Stallion. She had this shirt of her and two other girls in anime form, with swords and shit. It was sickening. This is one of my favorite shirts right now. I saw the release on Instagram, and I was like, I can’t help but have this.
Have you made any connections between your character on Euphoria, Jules and Neon genesis?
I really think Jules would love the show. I’m just going to be a nerd for a second: there are so many cool parallels between this show and transness, fluidity and sexuality. It’s going so hard in all of these areas. My favorite character is Rei Ayanami, who I also think is Jules’s favorite character, if we’re not far from who the other person is.
Without going into spoilers, the concept of the show is that this city and the world are being attacked by these angels, who are these alien forms that appear in the sky or in the city. The government developed this top-secret agency that created the only weapons that would be enough to fight these angels – who are actually humanoids slash cyborgs. There are also psychological, almost spiritual, links between robot pilots and the robots themselves. I love this relationship between this massive armor and the pilot, and that there can be tension between them and they don’t always fit together. The pilot feels what the robot feels when it is fighting. They’re really synchronized in that sense. I think that’s a really cool analogy for transness, and the way trans people navigate having bodies and presentation, and what being seen and being can look like. in the world. And then there’s a lot of homoerotic shit at the bottom of the show I live for.
Have you seen the #EuphoriaChallenge on TikTok?
No, what is it? Is there a challenge?
People recreate beauty looks from the show. A woman made an interpretation of the FaceLace spiky iridescent turquoise eye adornments you wore.
Oh, this is sick! I’ve seen TikToks like this before, but I didn’t know it was a challenge.
What are you most passionate about about television right now?
I’ll say two things, because I’m still on top after completing them last month: I can destroy you, the best TV show I have probably ever seen. It’s amazing, simply a masterpiece. I saw the new Luca Guadagnino show We are who we are. I watched the whole season, and it blew me away. It was also absolutely perfect. These two shows kind of left me speechless.
Related: Hunter Schafer likes all Euphoria Make-up at Fashion Week