This post contains spoilers for Euphoria.
One of the lingering mysteries of Euphoria’s second season has been Samantha, a rich young mom played by Minka Kelly. All season long, Maddy (Alexa Demie) has been babysitting Samantha’s son and vamping around her massive home, getting small glimpses at her glamorous life. But…who is this woman? What does she do? And why does she trust Maddy, of all the Euphoria teens, to watch her kid?
Some of those questions were finally answered in Sunday night’s episode, in which Samantha turns into Maddy’s mentor—which, in Euphoria world, means hanging out with the teen in the pool, pouring her a glass of rosé, and gleefully listening to her boy problems.
“After our first day working together, [show creator Sam Levinson] said, ‘I want you to be the older, wiser version of [Maddy],’” Kelly says in a phone call. “I was like, ‘Yes, please! I love that. I see so much of myself in this girl.’”
Levinson wrote the role of Samantha specifically for Kelly, the actor says, offering her the part around the time of her birthday in 2021. “I was like, ‘Sam Levinson knows who I am?’” Kelly says. “To be invited on one of your favorite shows is such a surreal thing.”
Still, Kelly didn’t know what she was signing up for when she initially accepted the role. “It was actually so vague,” she says, adding that all she initially had to go on was a paragraph of dialogue. At the time she accepted, Samantha was only supposed to be in one episode—but Levinson stretched out the part once he saw her dynamic with Demie. He also rewrote things on the fly, giving Kelly and Demie brand-new scripted dialogue for the pool scene in episode six the morning of shooting.
“That can be frustrating and can throw some people off, but I actually trust and feel safe with a director who’s not afraid to change his mind,” Kelly says. “At the end of the day, the goal is what ends up onscreen. We’re all here to facilitate his vision.”
But as much as Levinson likes to change things around, Kelly says the director was also open to letting her make character tweaks. In the very episode where she’s introduced, Samantha is shown wearing a slinky purple gown, which she asks Maddy to unzip. There’s a discomfiting sensual edge to the scene, but Kelly notes that it’s tamer than what was originally scripted. “[Levinson] thought it would be more interesting if my dress fell to the ground,” Kelly recalled. At the time, she disagreed. “That was my first day as a guest on this new show, and I just didn’t feel comfortable standing there naked.”
Her story echoes one that cast member Sydney Sweeney recently told, noting that her character, Cassie, was originally slated to have more nude scenes in season two, until she voiced her concerns to Levinson. “I would tell Sam, ‘I don’t really think that’s necessary here,’” Sweeney told The Independent. “He was like, ‘Okay, we don’t need it.’”