When Maude Apatow was much younger, she would go to Target and scan the shelves for romance novels with good covers. No those kind of romance novels, nothing too much inappropriate, but books with plots weren’t necessarily written for a child whose age hadn’t yet reached double digits. Back then, Apatow read anything and everything, and the flavor of the day turned out to be stories about love.
She was also a venerable fiction writer in her own right. He would take the most beautiful story from the shelf and read it from cover to cover. Then, I would emulate the topics covered in those books. In fourth grade, she wrote a long story about a woman who was dying of cancer, left her husband, and had an affair that turned into a new relationship during her last days.
“My teacher was like, ‘What the hell?!’” Apatow, speaking from his parents’ home in New York City, tells me on the phone one recent afternoon. He’s had a penchant for writing fiction all his life, but since his first film credit at the age of 10 (he starred in the 2007 comedy Pregnant, directed by her father Judd Apatow and starring her real-life mother Leslie Man as her mother in the film), Apatow has been known primarily for her acting. He has gone on to star alongside Pete Davidson in The King of Staten Island, made cameo appearances in Girls, and appeared in the Netflix miniseries Hollywood. But by far, her defining moment came when she landed a role in the HBO Max hit. Euphoria, which has transformed the way fans spend Sunday nights (when the second season debuted on January 9, 2.4 million viewers tuned in, breaking the network’s record for highest total viewership for a premiere digital since its launch in 2020).
As Lexi Howard, Apatow plays the former best friend of Rue Bennett (Zendaya) and the younger sister of Cassie Howard (Sydney Sweeney). The first season of Euphoria sees Lexi as a sidekick, a good girl drawn into a world of manipulation, extortion, drugs, sex, crime, and fashions that show skin. But as soon as the first episode of the second season aired, it became clear that the role of Lexi will take center stage; she and Fezco, the big-hearted drug dealer played by Angus Cloud, strike up a flirtatious and deeply emotional conversation at a New Year’s Eve party that marks the beginning of a romantic arc between them. And in tonight’s latest episode, another Lexi-centric story emerges, one that connects to Apatow in more ways than one.
Halfway through episode three, Lexi practically runs through the halls of her high school and approaches the assistant principal to ask him to put on a play she’s been writing. Prissy and proper, in an ivory button-down blouse with a scalloped Peter Pan collar, she bursts out with childish enthusiasm when he nonchalantly replies, “Sure.” A montage showing Lexi as the writer, director, and creator of a project called This is life appears on screen, while Rue’s voice narrates: “She was an observer. She was like that”.
It’s a rare time when life imitates art: Apatow’s ambition to write and direct movies, plays and TV series suddenly brings Lexi’s own dreams into focus. On the phone, the self-styled theater nerd (her favorite musical is Stephen Sondheim’s) Sunday in the park with George) tells me that while writing all his life, he once briefly considered becoming a journalist. (“But then I realized I wasn’t good at it,” she says with a nervous laugh.) He began to take the craft much more seriously while studying at Northwestern University. There he met a friend who became his writing partner, and even after he dropped out of school (just before landing his part in Euphoria), have continued to work together. During the pandemic, they were zooming in on each other and developing ideas. On these days, they visit each other’s apartments for writing sessions. “We sit for days and weeks and write all day,” he recalls. “I think we have good energy together. Once we get going, we move forward.” It’s proven to be a fruitful practice: Apatow sold his first script over the summer and is now in the development phase of the project.
If hearing about Apatow’s productivity makes you feel bad about sitting on your couch during the pandemic instead of working on your own masterpiece, don’t worry, the actress makes it clear that she still spent a lot of time at home watching. RuPaul’s Drag Race. (She’s a superfan, she explains: “I’ll probably watch the new episode right after we’re done on the phone,” she admits.) The compulsive reality TV ended up benefiting Apatow in the end, during Lexi’s montage in charge of episode three. . , there is a fictionalized imagination of what Lexi would say during a behind-the-scenes confessional-style interview about her play. “We improvised that whole sequence, the day of,” reveals Apatow. Sam [Levinson] he didn’t tell me beforehand what was going on, he threw me off, knowing he’d probably scare me if he knew. [ahead of time]. It was so funny. We sat in the bedroom, the whole crew was on the scene, and we were cracking up.”
Behind the camera, Levinson, Euphoriaseries creator, He yelled lines for Apatow to recite. Among them was an eerily meta one that made it to the final cut: “The sidekicks are usually the most sensitive, intelligent, and engaging characters, but for some reason they just get passed over,” Lexi says of her idea of writing a play based on her. own life, which centers on 16-year-old Grace, who “lives in the shadow of her older sister, Hallie.” “But the story isn’t about Hallie,” Lexi continues. “That has been done before. And I was like, TV show! The sidekick is the protagonist.”
It may seem like a clue to the direction for the rest of Euphoria’s season, but it also feels like a subtle nod to Apatow’s own reality. Have you ever considered yourself a partner in real life?
“I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of myself that way,” she replies. “Or if I have, like, the energy of the main character. I’m definitely similar to Lexi in the way that I feel like I’m always judging what I say. I get anxious while talking. I feel like I’ve gotten better at it as I’ve gotten older, though it still happens. But when I think of Lexi, it’s a much more extreme version of that. She can’t really talk because of it.”
“Do you hate interviews?” I ask. She gives a nervous laugh in response.
“I’ve definitely gotten better at not hating interviews,” adds Apatow. “It’s hard to talk so much about yourself. And it’s so hard not to recognize every three seconds that it’s weird that you’re talking about yourself so much. I also think it’s always weird to talk about acting; it’s so easy to walk off as if you’re taking yourself too seriously. But I think maybe I’m a little too much otherwise. I am too self-critical. I’ve been trying not to do that!” More nervous laughter.
Since the pandemic began, Apatow says she has been working on this facet of herself. “Recently, I’ve tried to think of it not as a negative trait, but as something positive. I think I care a lot and I’m a very sensitive person. Everything affects me deeply, and I feel, I don’t know, overwhelmed. My mom is like that,” she tells me. “I have a strange chip on my shoulder. I’m always like, ah, I have to prove them wrong! My dad says: ‘Who are they? What are you talking about?’ But nobody in my life has no they supported me. I don’t think it comes from anything outside of my weird neurosis. So I’m learning to be kinder to myself.”
Part of that process, Apatow says, is treating herself as she would treat her own child. “I read something about being a good parent to yourself,” she says. “If you constantly criticize yourself in your head, it affects you. I’m still working on being aware of that negative self-talk and breaking that cycle.” For a moment, those self-deprecating laughs that came from her on the phone cease, perhaps to allow the 9-year-old girl who buys romance novels at Target to take center stage.
David Von Cannon hair; Romy Soleimani makeup; A special thanks to The Jane Hotel and The Old Rose NYC.