Barbie Ferreira, who stars in HBO bold new drama Euphoria as Kat Hernandez, starred in Sunday Night’s third episode, in which her character juggles sex, insecurity, and the dark corners of the internet.
The episode explored Kat’s childhood heartbreak, when Daniel, the boy she loved, broke up with her after gaining weight on vacation, and from which she never recovered emotionally. As a teenager, she chose an online life over a real one, becoming one of the most popular fan fiction writers on the internet, and after her first sexual experience ended on a porn site, she decides to attract attention and become a cam girl. As a result, the episode includes a very graphic masturbation scene involving a (fake) micropenis and Kat’s new empowerment.
Ferreira, who has appeared on HBO before Divorced, spoke to Hollywood journalist about that webcam scene, her own experiences with fat-shaming, and escaping online life.
First up, this webcam scene. What was it like filming that?
Funny enough, we shot the pilot and then the first week we got back I did this scene. I was really excited to do this scene, it’s so funny and so in my back alley of this dark humor but also this very vulnerable and real interaction that I know a lot of people went through. The extra layer that it’s a micropenis, it was honestly such a fun scene to shoot because my reactions were so genuine. He was actually there and had an earpiece and I could hear him and see the Skype video. The reaction is there, the literal scene is my actual reaction to seeing this. I couldn’t contain myself sometimes. I’m not squeamish very quickly, so I had to channel that moment to be the first really crazy moment to see something this extreme and not understand or calculate what was going on. It was great to do, I know it’s funny to watch, but it was also pretty funny to shoot.
How did you prepare for this scene?
I remember the first week I got in and in the pilot I was thinking so much because it was my first time doing something like this so I walked in without even trying to visualize what it would look like because I wanted that real “Oh no! No he didn’t! reaction to that. So I saw a glimpse of the room, it was in that little room upstairs with the webcam, and j was downstairs in my room and I took a look and there was a giant jar of jelly. I don’t even know if you can see it, but the amount of detail in this room – I would like let them unroll and show you, there was a giant jar of jam that was like half eaten and those crude little details to that. And everyone there is so cool and respectful and it was such a great experience , even when things like a micropenis prosthesis came into play. It was also like any other day on the dish. water, but that day will still be very good.
In addition to the webcam moments, your character also has a few sex scenes. You had a privacy coordinator on set. How did that play out in the filming of these?
The intimacy coordinator was in almost every decision of people touching or showing any kind of skin, so it was all incredibly deliberate and choreographed. Most of my sex scenes I’m fully dressed, or even if I’m showing something, it’s all so talked about. You talk to him, then you talk to him again just before. I signed up to do a lot more nudity; we just realized I didn’t even need it. As much as people are looking and saying to themselves, “Oh my god there is nudity everywhere” it is all so deliberate and specific and sends a message. sat [Levinson, Euphoria creator] always has reasoning for everything, and you can see it when you read and watch it.
Why was Kat drawn to this online sex space and how did she use it to become more independent?
I think Kat’s reality is that everyone around her is having sex or is seen as desirable, and she just doesn’t feel it. She feels like she lacks sexual experience, and she’s not trying to be prudish or a virgin, and it’s almost like this frustration that no one wants to explore her sexually. That scene where Daniel breaks up with little Kat, actually made me cry when I first started watching her. I know it’s a lighter background for a character than Euphoria is used to it, but for those who understand and understand it, it’s so sad to know that this girl’s entire life – and how I was too until I had to break her – felt invisible or even a disgust aspect, because you say, “I don’t think people would find me attractive.” And to see a world where all those anonymous people who don’t need to be nice to you see you as a sexual person who is sexy, taking back that power and being the object of desire that she never has. summer – especially in this seedy place it’s also inherently sexy and taboo – it all plays into her need to be anonymous online and to get validation. I think the porn comments are the first time she’s seen people see her from that angle that she wants to be so desperately because she wants to be like everyone else, she wants to explore her sexuality.
The episode is also about a lot of bullying and shame for its weight – how do you think the series approached this in a unique way, and why was that important to you?
Bullying because of the weight happens in such a small, but also a big way, but Kat feels really isolated and she resorts to an erotic fiction writer online. She wants an outlet to support this, and when [in the show] I walk down the hall and the kids behind me are doing sound effects, it was written in the script, but it was straight out of my life. I would be followed from school to the house and the guys would be like doing sound effects while I was taking my steps. So the reality is that there are a lot of different ways people make you feel bad. I also think it’s funny because the kid behind me doing these sound effects is also chubby. People really hate yourself for being fat or being known as fat, and especially in an environment where everyone thinks of you as a negative thing, it makes you feel really horrible about yourself. and your self-hatred runs so deep. I didn’t feel like one day she was going to be confident, it’s this armor she puts on to get into her cam girl, which is the only character that got her attention that way where she feels like she is no different from everyone else and she is actually a sexy girl. This armor of being a cam girl, it’s a way to push off those insecurities just so you can put that front on, like, “Don’t f–with me I wear leather. But inside, he’s still there, and you can see him in his every move.
Kat’s story is about a lot of her online life compared to her real life. How did one impact the other?
The anonymous aspect is really interesting to me because there is a level of vulnerability when you show who you really are on the internet. I went on the internet at a young age and couldn’t bear to be vulnerable and show these aspects of myself. I think having an outlet where she’s validated and talented and people really admire her and don’t even know who she is, it’s like she’s keeping it at bay because she’s scared. that if people see who she really is, they won’t like her anymore and will realize that she is just another fat girl. It’s an extension of herself that she doesn’t want to mix with real life; she wants to keep it separate, because she is afraid that if she mixes it up, everything will fall apart. She kind of starts exploring by bringing her online character in her real life, but her new online character, and she finds power there, and she’s helpless in school.
Part of Kat’s story is also that she is the creator of Larry Stylinson, the hugely popular Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson fanfiction from One Direction.. What was the idea behind it?
When I first read the script this is the first thing that came to my mind, because I can relate to it as a 22 year old woman who lived through the era. of One Direction. It’s such a reality for so many people, and so many kids and teens who are fans just have this world of escape. You give yourself completely to this character of someone you don’t even know, or five guys, and imagine the way they interact to escape your own reality. It’s really interesting to me because I was definitely a part of it, where I wanted to escape my own life and focus on other people because it was easier and more meaningful.
Beyond sex and drugs, what do you want people to take away from this show?
I think people watching it really understand how the characters are so layered and how they can relate to them, but also understand that it’s a drama and not necessarily everyone’s story, but it’s a story that people can relate to. We were in the press about nudity and everything, and it made me nervous because we put our whole heart and soul into it, and I’m so happy that as soon as it comes out, the amount of thinking, the quantity of conversations, quantity of people who really relate to it. People don’t listen to young people, clearly, because of the way they wrote on the show, because young people resonated with it so much. I have every confidence that they will be able to continue, because each episode removes a layer of young adult. Sam really wrote something that people can feel, understand and talk about, and it’s evident in the way people talk about it, even about nudity.
Interview edited for length and clarity.