This week, Sam Levinson once again drew ire for his alleged treatment of female filmmakers thanks to a series of screenshots of a newly resurfaced interview with actress, photographer, and filmmaker, Petra Collins.
In the January 2023 interview, Collins, who’s collaborated with major artists Olivia Rodrigo and Carly Rae Jepsen, claimed that Levinson reached out to the agency that represents her and explained that he’d written a series he’d like her to direct given it was inspired by her photographs. That show turned out to be none other than Euphoria.
“I moved to L.A. and worked for HBO for about five months,” Collins told Punkt according to the screenshots posted by multiple accounts. “I was like, ‘I am directing the show.’ I created a whole world for it, did the casting, whatever. [And at] the last minute, HBO was like, ‘We are not hiring you because you are too young.’”
But Levinson and the network, she alleged, continued on with her vision without her.
“A year later, I walked out of my apartment and saw this billboard [for Euphoria], and it’s exactly what I am, as a copy of my work” Collins continued. “I started crying. I was so shocked. I mean, it happens to me so many times in my career but not on a scale like that.” Levinson, nor HBO, responded to Jezebel’s requests for comment.
Though the previous portion of the interview now appears to be removed (the reason for which is currently unclear), Collins quite tellingly references the show in another answer about her style evolution.
“That series was an exorcism to me,” Collins said. “I had to change my style because of Euphoria. Lots of people started to take photos in that style and I haven’t felt any more as mine and I felt disconnected from that. I need to find myself again, cause I didn’t resonate with this anymore.”
Of course, the interview has reignited criticism of Levinson online.
“Just found out that Sam Levinson basically used Petra Collins to create Euphoria, stole her who aesthetic in 2017 to develop the show & then basically dropped her cause she was too ‘young’ in her career & still created the show w/ everything she put into it,” one user tweeted. “The fact that we could have had a Petra Collins directed Euphoria actually physically pains me,” echoed another.
As of now, HBO and Levinson have yet to address Collins’ comments but “a source close to Levinson downplayed the accusations to the Daily Beast, claiming the controversial writer and director only offered to “throw her name in the ring.”
“As a fan of hers, he was hoping there was a possibility they could work together in that way. But by no means was anything promised. That wouldn’t have even been possible for him to do because ultimately it’s the network’s decision,” said source told the outlet.
This isn’t the first time HBO and Levinson have been accused of shady dealings with female creatives. In March 2023, a bombshell Rolling Stone report revealed that Levinson’s controversial collaboration with The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye), The Idol, was originally directed by Amy Seinmetz who abruptly exited despite completing “80 percent” of the series in April 2022. That month a “creative overhaul” was reported by Deadline, with Levinson’s co-creator, Tesfaye, reportedly feeling that the show was leaning too far toward a “female perspective.” Levinson—unfortunately—took over. After the series bombed, a number of photos from Seimetz’ take on the series offered a glimpse of what could’ve been.
To no one’s surprise, it looked a lot better than the dumpster fire The Idol turned out to be, which makes me wonder how much cooler Euphoria could be if Collins was at the helm...