HB-Oh No

Filmmaker Sam Levinson allegedly stole from artist Petra Collins to create “Euphoria”

Sam Levinson doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to working with women. This summer, his new HBO show The Idol was a complete trainwreck, panned by critics and viewers alike for its reductive depiction of women — a critique made all the more painful by the knowledge that the show was originally helmed by Amy Seimetz, whose original feminist vision for the show was completely scrapped by Levinson.

Now, photographer Petra Collins — known for directing Olivia Rodrigo’s music videos including “vampire” and “bad idea right?” — has alleged that Levinson did something similar with his hit show Euphoria.

In a January interview with Hungarian magazine Punkt, Collins shared that Levinson reached out to her agency with an offer to direct Euphoria, which he told her he had based on her photos.

“I moved to LA, and worked for HBO for about 5 months. I was like, ‘I am directing the show.’ I created a whole world for it, I did the casting, whatever, and [at] the last minute HBO was like, ‘We are not hiring you, because you are too young.’”

Collins said she was fine with that decision at the time, but when the show was being advertised the next year, she realized Levinson had taken her vision without keeping her on the project.

“I walked out of my apartment and see this billboard and it’s … a copy of my work. I started crying, I was so shocked,” she said. “[It’s happened] to me so many times in my career, but not on a scale like that.”

And indeed, when Euphoria premiered in 2019, it was immediately hailed for its unique aesthetic. Those who already knew Collins drew comparisons to her work, but to casual viewers, the beautiful world of Euphoria was a Sam Levinson original.

“It was so intense to me, because this is the aesthetic that I built all my life, and now I have to change it, ’cause it enters the mainstream and it’s been taken away from me,” Collins continued. “The worst thing was when people were unknowingly saying, ‘This show looks like your photos.’” 

(Notably, this section of the interview has since been removed from the website, but is still visible using the Wayback Machine and is being circulated in screenshots. Also, the interview was seemingly translated from Hungarian to English, explaining some of the wonky grammar.)

That interview went viral this week, and the internet is pissed, to put it mildly. Some are angry with Levinson for once again stealing a woman’s work…

…while others are mourning the Euphoria we could have had, one with Collins’ gorgeous aesthetics without Levinson’s questionable direction.

Even popstar Charli XCX chimed in, praising Collins’ signature style.

An insider close to Levinson has denied Collins’ claims, telling The Daily Beast that Levinson only offered to “throw her name in the ring” to direct the pilot.

“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,” the source said.

The source also noted that Euphoria couldn’t have been based solely on Collins’ work, as “it’s very widely known that Euphoria is a remake of an Israeli show.”

The third season of Euphoria is set to release in 2025, and it will have to be something special to make up for Levinson’s floundering reputation.

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