Euphoria's Javon Walton Is Just Trying to Get Through Math Class
This post contains spoilers for the end of Euphoria Season Two.
At Javon Walton's high school, there's no play with a six-figure budget, no kids in the audience of such a production who look exactly like Tom Holland, no six-and-a-half-feet-tall psychomaniacs stalking the hallways, and definitely no underworld of drugs with names you've never heard before. At least to Walton's knowledge. "I don't go to parties," the actor, 15, makes sure to tell me, "but there'll be parties. They get busted for drugs, but it's definitely not as intense as Euphoria."
You certainly hope not. In Euphoria, HBO's prestige-y portrait of Gen Z, Walton plays the hyper-witted Ashtray, the adopted younger brother of Angus Cloud's Fezco. The show, which debuted its season finale Sunday night—and seemingly sealed Ashtray's fate—was Walton's first TV gig. He was 11 years old. Now, talking to me over Zoom a few days before that episode airs, 15. Which means that Javon Walton is the the only actor among Euphoria's ranks actually qualified to speak about whether or not the series gets high school right. (Zendaya: 25. Hunter Schaefer: 23 Dominic Fike: 26.)
This year, for the first time since the second grade, Walton is back in a living, breathing school, one stuffed with thousands of other kids and the third best baseball team in the country. He's been through years of homeschooling, due to his boxing career—Walton, no big deal, is an impressively accoladed boxer training for the 2024 Summer Olympics—and later, the acting, too. Would you want to go from hanging out with Angus Cloud to getting your ass up at 6 a.m. so you can make homeroom with Mr. Stephens? "My parents wanted to throw me back and I wasn't super supportive of the idea," he says, "But they were." Parents.
"Teachers can be super nice one day and super mean the next," Walton adds of a problem none of the kiddos in Euphoria ever have to face, due to Euphoria High's apparent shortage of any administrator over the age of 18. He hates World Geography. Math, too. Loves Ecology. That teacher is sweet. He's knitting a basket in Art class. Trying to, anyway. Some of his peers see him as the Euphoria kid. They recognize him in the halls. "There's kids that will follow me around, take pictures of me without noticing it," he says. High schoolers can be mean, if you've already scrubbed that period in your life from your brain. (More Maddies and less Juleses.)
When I ask Walton if Euphoria gets high school right, he says, "Man, I think for some of the hatefulness in the world, it gets some of that right."
One day, in Javon Walton's other life—the one where he plays a crypto-proficient, drug-dealing child—he was bashing Eric Dane's face in with a rubber gun. You probably thought that Walton's standout scene of the season, where he
To hear Walton tell it, working on Euphoria is nearly as surreal as the show itself. Yes, one half of the most tabloided celebrity couple, Tom Holland, visited the other half, Zendaya, on the Euphoria set. Walton doesn't have any intel regarding Holland's rumored cameo in the audience of Lexi's play—I asked, I promise—but they did compare boxing notes. ("He got some hands.") There were deep talks with his on-screen brother and off-screen Shrek superfan, Angus Cloud, who, every single day, would try to steal a golf cart from set. "He was sitting in that thing for hours every single day, trying to get that thing going," Walton says. "Because the keys weren't even in there." Most of his other Angus Cloud stories aren't safe to share in a magazine interview, or any other place his parents could find it.
This is probably a good time to note that Javon Walton is the happiest damn kid I've ever met. His eyes are perpetually huge. Talks fast. Scooches forward and back on his couch every few minutes. ("Because people think that since I play Ashtray, I'm just a mean person in general... I'm a normal kid.") It only takes a couple minutes to understand why a casting agent, after seeing a baby-faced Walton and his father throw hands on The Steve Harvey Show, suggested he audition for Euphoria. If you look at Walton's performance, you might see that it's his natural charisma and humor, in addition to that soul-sucking glare, that steals scenes. Think back to Season One, where Ashtray quips to Rue, "I thought your ass was dead."
In a deleted scene from Season Two, at Euphoria's Biggie Smalls-soundtracked New Year's party, Walton says that Euphoria creator Sam Levinson had little Ashtray spitting game to a twenty-something-year-old woman. "Sam was like, 'Just throw this line and be like: Yo, are you spiritual?'" And that line, I had to say it super serious. It was mad funny. I wonder why they cut it. It was good!"
Walton will get a chance to, you know, smile, in his next big part: a secret role in Season Three of Umbrella Academy, likely out this year. "The cast was phenomenal to work with," Walton says of the Elliot Page-led superhero dramedy. "My character though, people aren't going to be expecting that. People will think I'm going to be part of the other academy and all this other stuff. But it's something that people aren't really expecting." He'll also star opposite Sylvester Stallone in another superpowered romp, Samaritan, out August 26. Working with Sly was everything he expected—Rocky himself would offer tales of boxing legends between takes.
When I suggest that things are leaning, in the best way, a little superhero in his multiplying IMDB page, he leans forward and nearly shouts, as if he's been waiting to say it for years, "I want to play a superhero so bad though! Robin could be cool." I tell him that Robert Pattinson's Batman needs a Robin. "That's what I'm saying! I could be the next Robin."
In earlier drafts of Euphoria's season finale, according to Walton, Fez died in that police raid. Now, we're left with what looks like Ashtray's death. Custer tips the police to Fez and Ashtray's drug operation, which, if you had any doubt, Ashtray doesn't take kindly to. He stabs Custer in the neck. Fez, ever the loving brother, tries to convince Ashtray to let the cops think he was the one who committed the crime. Instead, Ashtray locks himself in a bathroom, accidentally shoots Fez (!), and kills a cop. Next, we see the red dot of a gun land on Ash. A gunshot rings out.
"Man, I just hope he's alive," Walton says. "Because I'm sure he didn't just get shot one time by taking cover in the bathtub and getting shot through the wall." It's then that, for the first time, we finally see Ashtray's poker face break. As soon as his older brother—the one person he loves in his life—is taken away, he instantly becomes a kid again. His eyes go soft. The nerves set in. The breaking up of Fez and Ashtray foils what we saw in the very first minutes of Season Two: the moment they came together and called each other a brother. We learned that when Ashtray was only a baby, his birth mother left him with Fezco's grandmother. She never came back. "You know that Fez needs Ash, and Ash needs Fez. They both really rely on each other, so it's going to be really hard for both of them," Walton adds.
Walton, clearly, has already put a lot of thought into what happened to Ashtray. He imagines that the kid could somehow play dead to get out of the jam, which would see Season Three following him on the run. Either way, he figures that Fezco and Ashtray need to be together. "With Fez in jail, I feel like he's going to get out no matter what," he says. "I don't know how, but I feel like he's definitely going to be able to get out somehow. And Ash is definitely going to find a way back to him because that's the person he cares about most to him. That's what I would want to happen, is for Ash and Fez to reunite. People love the Ash and Fez duo. The Fesh train!"
Whatever happened, Walton still has to show up to school on Monday morning. The 6 a.m. alarm. There's that basket to knit, you know. If Ash did die, Walton adds that he'd have a hard time watching Season Three, seeing his friends still on the show. Knowing that he's gone. The last time he set foot in Fez and Ashtray's apartment, whenever that was, would now be the last time. It'd be on to the next thing. Hopefully that includes being a boxing champion. In 10 years, he'd also like to be still acting. Producing, even. Maybe even the creator of an athleticwear line, something like men's Lululemon. "People will ask me, 'What would you rather, pick boxing or acting?' I don't got to pick. I can do both."
I ask him if he'd take anything from his tattooed counterpart with him later in life. "I think I would take away his street smarts, and that deep down he's a good person. He's really loyal to the people he loves," he says, still a little solemn, "and that's really, really important." Then, as suddenly as it went away, the humor returns. The smile. "Even though he is dealing drugs, he does an amazing job at it, right?"
From: Esquire US