Elordi stars in HBO’s controversial teen drama as Nate, a jock and general jerk. In the first two episodes of the series, Nate taunts and harasses Jules (Hunter Schafer) in front of everyone at a party, calls a teenager a “whore” for taking nude photos, and mercilessly beats up a man who hooked up with his ex-girlfriend at a party. He oozes toxic masculinity and misogyny: Nate even has a long list of things he hates on women, from body hair to shorts that are just a little too short.
Elordi’s Kissing Booth character Noah is not exactly like Nate, but he does share some of Nate’s less-than-flattering traits. He, too, attacks a guy for inappropriately touching his crush Elle (Joey King), and is generally possessive of his not-even-girlfriend yet when she goes on a date with another guy.
In Euphoria, Nate is the villain, and in The Kissing Booth, he’s the romantic hero of the story. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Elordi notes that Euphoria is perhaps attempting to rewrite narratives put out by rom-coms like The Kissing Booth.
“[Euphoria is] almost like righting my wrongs a little bit too, because the character in The Kissing Booth is awful and it’s never really explained,” said Elordi to the outlet. “He’s kind of idolized and made into a hero, so I suppose this show is showing why.”
Elordi noted that he does not want Nate to be a one-note “bad guy.” In episode 2 of the series, Nate’s backstory is revealed, suggesting that his relationship with his father (Eric Dane) is part of the reason he has problematic views of masculinity and women.
“It’s important to me because in the term ‘stereotypical jock’ and ‘toxic masculinity,’ that kind of character can get written off straight away, the same way as that kid can get written off in real life. If you are that person, and all of a sudden you’re always that guy, and no one has ever really taken a beat to think about where that person comes from,” Elordi explained to THR. “You’re always the bad guy when you’re the jock or have toxic masculinity, but I think it’s important to show that that person comes from somewhere as well.”
As for The Kissing Booth, perhaps Elordi’s character will receive some more depth as well. A sequel to the widely-watched Netflix film hits the streaming service January 2, 2020.