GREATEST / ANGUS CLOUD
The “accidental” breakout star sets the record straight about his role on Euphoria, homesickness and life after fame.
In the streaming era, few films or TV shows dominate the cultural conversation the way they once did. Euphoria is the exception. On January 9, 2022, the entire internet collectively lost its mind over the return of HBO’s groundbreaking series. But amid the quick-hit, meme-able moments (see: Lexi’s play; Maddy versus Cassie), the most revelatory part of the second season was Angus Cloud’s portrayal of empathetic drug dealer Fezco. Across eight episodes of quiet heartbreak, Cloud inhabits the role of Fez so naturally he could almost be playing himself.
In the real world, though, the actor is nothing like his character. Where Fez had to grow up fast, Cloud remains a kid at heart. He’s also a little reckless: in conversation with Jennifer Venditti and Eléonore Hendricks, the casting directors responsible for bringing Euphoria’s characters to life, Cloud casually mentions that he’s “broken into a couple zoos.” But his hunger for adventure isn’t entirely destructive. Cloud relishes being able to connect intimately with strangers—something that’s become a lot more complicated since the show’s success.
The growing pains of burgeoning celebrity, however real, have cleared the way for something new in Cloud’s life to take root. Between his recent modeling work and upcoming film projects, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that we’re entering the Age of Angus. For GREATEST, Cloud opens up about life after fame, dream fashion campaigns and channeling loss into art.
There must be a spiritual significance to that.
The place where I saw it die was where I fell and broke my skull and nearly died.
Was this in Oakland?
Yeah, 17th and Broadway in Downtown Oakland. It was out of the corner of my eye. I just saw this perfect, fucking big-ass bird on the ground. A peregrine falcon, I think that’s what it's called.
It's actually the fastest animal in the world. It's a really special bird—and you watched it die?
No. By the time I saw it, it was just on the ground. It looked like it had just dove and probably tried to grab something and was off and busted its head because of how fast it was going. It’s crazy because that’s exactly what happened to me.
I just got this book on the significance of animals in various indigenous cultures. It says that the spiritual messages, [the times] when you see a hawk dead or alive are, "When you are tired of dimming your inner light. When you're ready to take steps to align your life with your soul's purpose on earth. When you need to stay focused. When you want relief. When you want to activate psychic abilities." So, that's what the hawk brings. The hawk's telling you to stay focused.
Your life seems to be full of these symbolic coincidences. So you're back in Oakland. Do you return often?
I can never wait to go back. I always miss it so much.
What's it like returning home after doing Euphoria? Do you think there's a misconception that people project onto you?
I am a little tired of the question, "Oh, so you just get to roll up and play yourself. It must be so easy." “What's the difference between Angus and Fezco?” That's getting a little old. Angus is a real, regular person. Fezco is a made-up TV character.
For the record, Angus is not Fezco. I do want to acknowledge you and say that I just watched the last episode, and props to you and your acting skills. You are really bringing it.
Thank you. I'm not going to lie, seeing that was one of the first times I actually was like, “Damn. I actually did that.” Usually, when I see myself I'm like, “Fuck, I suck at this.” That time, I was like, “All right, I see you, bro.” I mean, I was going in. Those first couple of days were tough, man. I lost my voice. I was crying and shit.
How did it feel to go through that part of the process?
I put it all in.
I could see it. When you were bent over in the kitchen, it was powerful. What was it like filming that?
Yeah, I mean that part was crazy, but also the mental part of just staying in that mind frame for a couple days. You just feel sad and depressed. In between takes you're not joking around. You got to stay in character. It's not a pleasant headspace to be in.
Are you still mourning Ashtray?
That's my brother, man. He's still right here. I was just on FaceTime [with actor Javon Walton]. We were chopping it up.
How beautiful is his family? Love them all!
That's my boy. We were just talking about being famous and how everything is changing and you can't go back to normal. It's wild.
When I first met you, if I had asked how you would've envisioned your future back then, do you know what you would've said?
I don't know if I've said this before in an interview, but I never really had goals or ambitions. I wanted to work a job where I would get paid and get free food, and get to live on a cruise ship and travel the world. Just bullshit-ass, short-term stuff. I was about to go to Ireland, see my family and live out there. I never really had any life plans and I used to feel bad about that, a little bit jealous about [others who] had it all figured out.
But lately I've been like, “Fuck it. I'm going to just figure it out.” It's a freedom of not knowing, of not having a plan, or not being someone who gets stuck with a college degree they never end up using. I'm so thankful I didn't go to college. Everyone was pressuring me to go and I had to apply, but I didn’t want to go because I didn't know what I wanted to learn.
Why would I pay to learn if I don't know what I'm trying to learn? If I ain't figured it out in the last 12 years of school, how the fuck am I going to figure it out in four more years of school? That doesn't add up to me. If you know what you want to do and you feel passionate, go learn that shit. But at the same time, that shit's not always necessary. You want to be a photographer? You want to be in film? You don't have to go to school. Just get a camera and go outside, bro.
You were with a friend when Eléonore first approached you. Are you still friends with that person?
Yeah. That's my brother. I just talked to him the other day.
Does he regret not coming to my office with you?
Hell yeah, he does. He tried to make me feel bad about it. He's like, “Man, I wish I would've gone.” I'm like, “Motherfucker, me too.” Because I called him. I'm like, “Bro, you want to do this thing or not?” And he was like, “I don't know.” I'm like, “Bro, come on, let's do it.” And he's like, “Uh.” So, I almost didn't come because of that motherfucker.
It seems like you say “yes,” no matter what. You're just a “yes to life” type of person.
I mean, just live. You know what I'm saying?
I remember when we first met, before Euphoria, you had won a trip for a cruise and you went by yourself to Florida with a bunch of older people.
I had such a good time not knowing anybody and nobody knowing who the fuck I was—just having all these genuine interactions with people that I didn't know.
That's what our lives are like.
Then I look back on that, and I'm like, “fuck.” If I went on that same cruise now, I wouldn't be able to have all those genuine interactions. Fame changes the way people interact with you.
Does it make you feel lonely? I hear people say that it's lonely because you don't know who you can trust.
It definitely puts all those thoughts in your head.
You have your old friends, though.
Without my day-ones, I probably would've gone crazy by now.
And none of them have changed?
Not as far as I know. But I do know that it's not a conscious thing. It's not like, “Oh he's on TV now, so I'm going to act differently with him.” Because I've had that experience where you meet someone that you might not even be a fan of, and just the fact that you know that they're famous changes the way you approach them. Personally, I would much rather meet someone and have no idea that they're famous. That genuine interaction is much more attractive to me than the other way around. Damn, that's crazy. My boy who you met me with [when you first street cast me] is calling me right now.
I wish we could bring him on! Tell him I say, “hey.”
I remember when I was talking to you guys, he knew that there was something about you. He was encouraging you. I remember that.
I just remember you pulling up, and you were treating me hella professional and I was like, “Girl, if you want to talk, you got to walk with me. Feel me? Because I'm not going to stand here on the corner with you.”
I was coming back from acting class, and it was mad late at night and my phone was dead.
Eléonore was like, “There are these two guys who might call who I met on the street.”
You were trying to get my number and I was like, “Nah, but I'll take your number.”
You texted me the next day: “What's the information about this casting?”
I remember the first thing you did when you walked into the office is you grabbed the brass knuckles off my desk, and you told that amazing story about the zoo that you broke into.
I've broken into a couple zoos.
The thing I noticed that was special about you was you had this quality of active listening. The scene you did with Rue [played by Zendaya] by the pool when she has that monologue about her dad. She's talking for a long time, and you're just listening. The camera was on you, and that's what everyone was blown away by. You had this real way of listening. You didn't need to say anything but there were so many things going on in your face. I still say today that I've never seen someone's audition tape where every single person immediately responded, “Oh my God, who is this?”
That monologue was emotional and deep, and you were really listening to it because you cared so much about this girl. You could feel that. You have a genuine empathy for a lot of people.
I've lost a couple of friends to [addiction]. I have a lot of empathy towards it.
I think we all have, and I think it's really important. That's why this show is so wild because it touches on so many personal things for all of us. But it's such a delicate show. And it's very real. There's a lot going on in the world.
That's what I appreciate about Euphoria. This shit ain't nothing to fuck around with. It's not fun and games, you know?
It's not sexy. The reality is where this show goes, which is what's so special about it.
Do you get a lot of people sharing their stories with you?
I've had a couple of experiences like that. It's definitely really important to me. Having somebody break down and say that this show helped them get sober…I'm really glad we can have that impression on people.
You realize the amount of people this show is touching, maybe at a time when they need something outside of themselves.
It's hard to watch sometimes, even for me. I don't get how people are like, “I watched it all in one night.” Why would you do that yourself?
It's intense. What have you learned being around a genius like Sam [Levinson]?
Just to be open coming on to set and to be ready for anything, man. Because he'll switch it up on you real quick. Having that freedom working with Sam—him being open, and me being open and everyone being open to the energy.
Has it translated to your other projects? I see you're making a movie now with Alex Wolff. Are you done with that?
Yeah, we finished that in Oklahoma. It was a strange time. 10 dudes were all locked up in the hotel because we didn't want to get COVID.
Was it different for you to act in that movie than it is acting in the show?
You know what was really different? It was with an ensemble cast; with Euphoria it's all different stories, and we're all filming separately. Usually I'm working with Zendaya and Javon and whatnot. But on this one, most of the movie was a group setting. Alex [Wolff] is in almost every scene, and then everything else was like the group vibe. We would all sit and then work out the scenes together.
Does it feel different to become these other characters?
Hell yeah. I was so nervous getting on there. They wanted me to do an accent and I'm like, “God, I can't. I don't know what I'm doing here.”
What kind of an accent?
Just a little Southern twang. I hope the accent turned out alright. I was like, “Fuck, this is bad.”
Are you still making art? I remember at the beginning of COVID when we did that Euphoria book, you had some paintings or spray-paint pieces you were doing.
I'm trying to keep that private. If I do any other art, I will release it under a different name. I don't want people to fuck with it off of me being on Euphoria. I don't want to be famous, y'all. I'm just mourning the death of my old life.
What you were describing, these connections with strangers and these pure moments, that's our whole life. That's what we live off of, and I feel for you when you say that, because I can't imagine [not being able to to have that].
I'll figure it out. I'm not worried about it.
Do you have a role that you would love to play?
A live-action Treasure Planet. That's my favorite movie.
I don't even know what that is.
Well you better fuck around and find out! I used to have it on VHS when I was a kid. It's such a good movie.
What character would you want to play in it?
Jim Hawkins, man. The delinquent with the hoverboard, you feel me? Maybe I'll make it happen.
We're putting it out there.
My other dream that came out of this was the Polo by Ralph Lauren campaign. We made that happen. I can die happy. I got to meet Ralph Lauren.
You have so much fashion shit you're doing; I love the Thom Browne look [that you wore at his Fall 2022 show].
The sickest part about the Thom Browne thing is that there was this exclusive 12-person dinner, and three of us were from Oakland.
Miyako [Bellizzi] is from Oakland; we work with her all the time because we do the Safdie brothers’ films. Zendaya is from Oakland too, right?
Oakland is on the rise.
Did you keep all that clothing?
No, I tried to take the scarf. They were like, “There's only one of those in the world right now. We need to come get it.”
Maybe you'll design your own line.
Maybe. The Polo deal happened because I came to their office with a Polo watch that I spent my own money on, and they were like, “Oh, really? You bought that?” I was like, “Hell yeah, man. ‘Players only live once.’ Polo is my shit. All day. I've been collecting Polo since I was 13, feel me?” They were like, “Oh, so you already fuck with us. We going to fuck with you.”
Perfect match. You also did Gap.
Yeah, I did Gap, and we did a short film for Fila.
You're a big-time model.
Something like that.
We're so proud of you, and it's been an honor to watch you grow and shine and see everyone love you.
Thanks to y'all. You saved me.