The actress talks to ET about playing Cassie and Lexi's wine drunk mother on the HBO series.
This season on Euphoria, viewers are also seeing just how messed up and complicated the parents are, including Suze, the wine drunk, single mother to Cassie (Sydney Sweeney) and Lexi (Maude Apatow) brought to life by Alanna Ubach.
A familiar face onscreen, the 46-year-old actress has been seen in everything -- notably, Bombshell, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce and Legally Blonde -- going all the way back to the ABC afterschool specials she did with current co-star Eric Dane. Now, with much appreciation, she’s bringing her wicked comedic timing and amazing facial reactions to a dark and complex season 2.
With Cassie going through quite the meltdown these past few episodes and Suze struggling to keep it together, Ubach hopped on the phone with ET to discuss why this good time gal may finally have to stop being everyone’s best friend. “One thing that I can constantly repeat over and over in my head about this character is, ‘This season, party’s over for party mom. And you have just as much growing up to do as Cassie and Lexi,’” Ubach says.
Originally planning to audition for Rue’s mother, once Zendaya was cast as the central teenager, Ubach remembers thinking to herself, “Well, I couldn’t possibly play her mom. I wouldn’t be able to get away with something like that. But what about this drunk mom here? The one that wants to be everyone’s friend. She is interesting.”
Having grown up with many Suzes, Ubach knew the part inside and out. “These were the cool parents that never had any rules or regulations at the house, where we could all get drunk as long as we didn’t get in our cars and drive. It was the house of yes,” Ubach recalls.
Always seen with a wine glass in her hand, Suze was very much that parent in season 1. It wasn’t until the end, when Cassie got an abortion, that audiences saw a deeper side of the character. “You’re setting yourself up for a disaster because your child no longer sees you as an authority figure,” Ubach says of Suze wanting to be liked by her daughters more than being their mother and how that complicated the dynamic between the three.
Now, in season 2, Suze, who would much rather watch reruns of Millionaire Matchmaker, has been forced to be even more present, especially as Cassie fully melts down in the wake of her relationship with Nate (Jacob Elordi) being exposed to Maddy (Alexa Demie).
“The energy in the room was so tense between Alexa and Sydney,” Ubach says of filming that moment in episode 5, in which Rue reveals the truth to everyone. “When we were rehearsing, with Alexa you just saw the wheels spinning in her brain and you thought, ‘Oh my god, she’s going to kill her. And I have to step in at the last moment.’”
While the fallout between Lexi and Maddy is no joke, the result is one of the more shocking and funny moments of the season, especially the way Suze reacts to it all. “That’s the one about Sam’s writing,” Ubach says of the series' creator, Sam Levinson. “These characters are so layered that everything is there for you. But to have a little bit of comic relief in these very dire situations, he’s letting the audience know that it’s OK. Everything’s going to be fine.”
However, things eventually come to a head in episode 6, with Suze instinctively staying one step ahead of her daughter by making the other one hide all the knives and sharp objects in the bushes outside. “I’m sure Suze was up all night thinking, ‘OK, what’s the next step? What would I do in this kind of situation?’” Ubach says, sharing what’s going on inside her character’s head.
“'Yeah, she’s going to try to kill herself. She’s not going to succeed, but she is going to try to make a statement so that everyone can feel sorry for her and she can be forgiven. And how would she do it? She would do it very dramatically,'” Ubach says of yet another darkly humorous scene that plays out between Suze and Cassie. who is hellbent on justifying the situation and later attempts to cut herself with a corkscrew.
During their argument, as Lexi watches on in horror, Suze replies, “It’s one thing to do what you did and it’s another to pretend you’re all innocent.”
Rewritten by Levinson the morning they were supposed to shoot the scene, Ubach recalls not knowing what exactly was going to happen between the two, just that “it’s essentially about me confronting her and saying, ‘Look, it’s really wrong that you slept with your best friend’s boyfriend. And you have to deal with the consequences.’”
She adds, “But I did not know I was going to be watching Millionaire Matchmaker. I thought, ‘Oh, this is fantastic.’”
When it comes to that unexpected reference to Patti Stanger’s dating show that ran from 2008 to 2015 on Bravo, the actress also found it to be a hilarious yet accurate revelation about Suze. “It’s such a single mom thing to do on a Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon with your glass of wine. Like, ‘Everyone just leave me alone and let me watch my reality show for God’s sake,’” Ubach says.
In the end, Suze watches as Cassie moves out to be with Nate. And for her, “It’s history repeating itself. My husband walked out on me and now my kid is walking out on me,” Ubach says, noting that the heartbreaking moment is the direct result of her focusing more on being a people pleaser than a parent. And at this point, “All Suze can do is really give her the freedom to make huge mistakes that she’ll hopefully learn from them eventually.”
While the dynamic that plays out between Cassie and Suze in episode 6 is one of her favorites of the season, Ubach also recalls working with Sweeney in episode 4, when the mom had to pull her drunk daughter out of the hot tub after vomiting on Maddy and Nate. “That was so much fun,” she says, recalling how she told Sweeney to “just lay like a wet mop. Don’t try to help me. Let me just try and lift all of you out of the tub.”
And because this season was shot on 35mm Kodak film, which Ubach says makes the show look like a horror film, they spent extra time on set trying to make the vomit look as real as possible. “It was, like, should we use a little more oatmeal in this and add a little more color? That held us up for a little while,” she shares.
Ubach adds, “What we do for a living is hysterical.”
Euphoria season 2 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and HBO Max.