May 27, 2024

‘Euphoria’ Star Angus Cloud, Dead at 25, Was the Show’s Unsung Hero

Over the course of just two seasons, HBO’s Euphoria became one of the most divisive and heavily criticized shows on television. However, if there was one thing fans and hate-watchers could agree on during the months the show was airing, it was that we all wanted the best for Fez.

On Monday, 25-year-old actor Angus Cloud, who gracefully embodied the teenage drug dealer Fezco “Fez” O’Neill, passed away in his family’s home in Oakland, where he was born, according to TMZ.

In a statement to the outlet, Cloud’s family said that he “intensely struggled” with the loss of his father, who was buried just a week before. “Angus was open about his battle with mental health, and we hope that his passing can be a reminder to others that they are not alone and should not fight this on their own in silence,” it partially read.

Coincidentally, Cloud’s personal struggles seemed to echo the arc of Euphoria’s main protagonist Rue, played by Zendaya, whose drug addiction is partially driven by the death of her father. (Again, the cause of Cloud’s death is currently unknown). Still, it was somehow Fez—a series regular, who often felt more like a recurring one due to the show’s unevenness—who gained universal empathy and affection amongst Euphoria’s extremely online fanbase. Despite the complicated nature of his occupation and relationship with Rue, both as an enabler and older brother figure, he stuck out as Euphoria’s “good guy” amongst the show’s unruly, misbehaved teens, the eye of a wildly written storm.

As Fez, Cloud gave the type of naturalistic performance you could only get from someone with little acting experience but a seemingly strong and uncompromising sense of self. Whenever viewers would visit the gas station where Fez and his younger brother/drug dealing partner Ashtray (Javon Walton) ran their business on Euphoria, it felt like we had stumbled upon a memorable bystander in a documentary as opposed to a product of Sam Levinson’s brain.

Cloud was literally plucked off the street by casting agent Jennifer Venditti when he was cast in the role that would make him one of Hollywood’s promising, young male actors and an internet heartthrob. To highlight Cloud’s natural charm and innate coolness isn’t to underplay his talent as a performer. Part of being a compelling actor is having your own uniqueness (in Cloud’s case, swag) that you can imbue into a character. But it also requires range, believability and the willingness to rise to the occasion wherever a story takes you.

Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO

That said, Levinson took Fez’s character many places despite his irregular screen time, including nearly to prison in Season 1’s nerve-wracking finale after he and Ashtray almost get busted, when Nate (Jacob Elordi) pettily calls the police on them. In another jaw-dropping finale in Season 2, Fez has to watch his adorable but tough companion die during a shoutout with rival drug dealers. In a show full of capital-T trauma, Ashtray’s death managed to be one of the show’s most devastating scenes, largely because Cloud was able to convey Fez’s unspoken bond with the inexplicably mute character so well.

Photo of Angus Cloud in Euphoria

Photograph by Eddy Chen/HBO

Cloud shined the most opposite his female screen partners, whose interactions with men on the show were typically unsavory or dangerous. There was an ironic feeling of safety whenever Rue would show up to Fez’s house looking for drugs—his most heroic moment on the show being when he refused to give them to her. When he got stuck housing a heroin-addicted girlfriend of a fellow dealer named Faye, he treated her with the same sort of care and respect, even if he was less than enthused about it. It was most exciting for fans, though, to watch Fez open up to his almost love interest Lexi (Maude Apatow). Despite the fact their romance wasn’t even certified with a kiss, their odd-couple chemistry was enough to prove Cloud’s romantic-lead bona fides.

Still, there was a part of Fez that felt unknowable throughout the series. In the case of certain characters, like Sydney Sweeney’s constantly spiraling Cassie, this often felt like the fault of the writing. But with Fez, his mystique felt like it was a part of the character’s design, if not a natural quality Cloud’s projected onto the part.

It’s safe to say that with the loss of Cloud, Euphoria has lost its grounding force and primary source of charm. The 25-year-old’s death is a crucial loss to all of Hollywood, though, as he seemed like the sort of idiosyncratic performer destined for a career as a notable character actor. Nevertheless, he managed to turn the humble part of Fez into the role of a lifetime.

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