Hunter Schafer on Art, Love, Ambition—and Life Beyond ‘Euphoria’

One day, Schafer knows, she will let go of Jules, the role that has so far defined her career. “She’s deeply intertwined with who I am as a person and who I was at that age,” she says. “She feels like an artifact of younger me.” Until that happens, she’s looking for new challenges, finding growth and heartbreak along the way.

Filming Cuckoo in Germany in 2022 was her first time on a movie set, and her first time working on a project not overseen by Levinson. “I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to deliver the same kind of performance with completely new people in a new country, on a new set, and on a completely different format of filmmaking,” she says. “There were these barriers that I felt like I had to break. It was like having the training wheels off.”

Stevens says he’d have never guessed Cuckoo was Schafer’s first movie set had she not mentioned it. But he also saw the way she seemed to learn something about herself in the process. “You could see her grow into the role and almost grow into herself in terms of [realizing], Oh, I can do this,” he says.

Her director was similarly impressed. “Hunter has a special thing,” Singer says. “She has a really unique way of showing her emotions, and being fearless about it. She’s relaxed, but she’s not casual.” They also bonded on the dance floor in Cologne, where they would go out dancing to techno most weekends: “She likes really hard stuff,” the German director says, with admiration.

The experience was eye-opening for Schafer. “Now that I’ve figured out the craft of acting and it’s not this terrifying thing that I feel like I’ve been thrown into, I get it,” Schafer says. “I can really find some levity and some joy in it.”

At the time, she was still recovering from a breakup with the actor and singer-songwriter Dominic Fike, whom she met while filming season two of Euphoria in 2021. “I had all these pent-up emotions,” Schafer says. As her Cuckoo character Gretchen, “I got to exorcise a lot of the breakup feelings that I was going through.” (The two reunited after she returned from Germany but called it off again last April.) Schafer had never dated a man before Fike, and had thought she never would. “I had had so many shitty experiences with men before—not from dating them, but just in life,” Schafer says. “I think I had built up a wall that was way too thick around them.”

“And then I fell in love,” she says, smiling.

Being with Fike allowed Schafer to “work through a lot of the feelings of disdain that I had towards men as a whole,” she says. “I think it had inhibited a lot of my friendships with men, and a lot of that came down as well. I had a really beautiful relationship with [Fike], and it really opened me up in that way.”

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