May 11, 2020
Culture & Music
Whether lighting our TV screens with raw teenage angst in Euphoria, averting her gaze in The Handmaid’s Tale or as a cult tagalong in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, there’s no denying Sydney Sweeney’s a captivating presence.
Left: Melitta Baumeister leather dress, Area earring, Alexander Wang gloves Right: Area Dress
Left: Alexander Wang jacket, Angostura finger tips
Right: Mugler jacket, stylist’s own tights, Emporio Armani pumps
Coach jacket and bags
When I enter the shoot she looks like a young Edie Sedgewick, her gamine features perfectly poised as the stylist arranges props around her. She has the kind of lithe elegance that calls to mind ballerinas and that trademark of a skilled actress, the ability to say a thousand things with her expression.
This is something Sweeney is a master of, whether she’s playing the ebullient and vulnerable Cass in Euphoria or the cosseted Eden in The Handmaid’s Tale, she brings a truth and an authenticity to each of her roles. A Virgo, she has a natural instinct for planning, this after all is the girl who, legend has it, presented her parents with a business plan to convince them to let her act. In her acting this translates to meticulous prep, she creates a journal for each role, immersing herself in the character’s world and imagining their reality as she becomes a character by “putting myself in her shoes from different memories and life experiences that she’s had that you won’t have seen on screen – that’s what makes a person.”
Given that her own upbringing was fairly traditional, I ask what her thoughts are around Euphoria, especially the commentary from concerned parents everywhere. We discuss the comparison to Kids in the 90s. Her take is “I think it’s reality for a lot of teens, whether all of these characters and scenarios are happening at once in one school, probably not, but every character and storyline, that is happening to someone out there and a lot of parents are like, this is not real, this is too much and all of it at once, yes it’s a lot but all these people are out there but we just had it all show up in one place.” Her work on Euphoria brings for her both great joys, and chalLenges too. She loves the collaborative nature of the show, citing the way that the show’s creator works with them to ensure things feel authentic. “It’s amazing being able to be honest and it allows you the freedom to say I don’t know if my character would do that, which is an amazing thing.” The challenges of playing Cassie come more from the outside world, her mum was inItially nervous to watch because she comes from a small town and “a lot of people there can be close-minded and not understand that I’m playing a character. Sometimes family members don’t understand I’m playing someone else and that story could maybe help someone in their life.” She says that once her mom watched the show she understood why she loved it and that her family are coming around too. “My family had a hard time with Everything Sucks, and me kissing a girl, so it’s been a lot of me introducing my family to the world and waking them up, which I’m glad I did.”
Louis Vuitton top, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello trousers
I ask her thoughts in general on social media and the pressures on Gen-Z as it’s so prevalent in Euphoria. Especially with Cassie, who deals with slut shaming, and if she thinks it’s hard for teens? “100%! I’m not far from being a teen myself, I still struggle with those things and comments and situations.” She believes it’s made the typical tensions in high school “crazy and even worse, it’s a huge struggle and we won’t figure it out for a very long time. People say it’ll go away and it’s like, it won’t.”
For all the pressures of life in the public eye, she seems to take things very much in her stride, and I was immediately charmed by her enthusiasm for the snack table at the shoot, with most of our interview conducted over a bag of gummy bears. It’s this mix of sweetness and strength that makes her so beguiling, but be warned, she’s tougher than she looks. In fact, trained MMA fighter tough. She started training when she was around 12 years old. “When I came to LA my friends were working with this personal trainer and my parents were like, that’s so stupid for a 12 year old, but they wanted me to hang out with my friends so I went and they were doing kickboxing and my trainer said you’re really good, I’m gonna take you to this dojo. So I went and they’re like, we’re gonna take you under our wings and they started training me! So I was grappling guys, in the ring, fighting. I don’t train as hard now because I bulked up really hard when I was fighting but I’d love to do a film where I can use those skills.”
She’s not looking to take on Wonder Woman though, ever surprising Sweeney has her sights set on another project, to be more specific a Rhonda Rousey biopic, as she puts it, “I think her story is incredible and I’m trained by her Senseis so we have that connection too.” Not something many people can say, but she doesn’t seem to be a fan of the obvious path.
Alexander Wang bodysuit
Coach jumper and bag
Christian Dior blazer, Alexander Wang bodysuit
Melitta Baumeister leather dress, Area earring, Alexander Wang gloves