What do ‘Euphoria,’ ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,’ ‘Sharp Objects,’ and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ have in common? They all feature Sydney Sweeney. We spoke with the actor about her dream role, her new indie film Clementine, and why you don’t want to catch her in a fighting ring.
Sydney Sweeney has had quite the past two years. Between taking the internet by storm as Euphoria’s Cassie Howard and playing a Manson Family member in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood—plus roles alongside Amy Adams in Sharp Objects and in the award-winning series The Handmaid’s Tale—Sweeney has proved herself a force to be reckoned with.
“It definitely has been an amazing last couple years,” she says. “Being able to ride off the momentum, and having all these amazing projects that lined up one after another.”
This string of prestigious projects didn’t just fall into the actor’s lap. As a 12-year-old, Sweeney prepared a PowerPoint presentation for her parents outlining her path to both stardom and a college degree. She proved convincing, and has been working hard at both ever since, studying entrepreneurship while racking up an impressive repertoire of diverse characters alongside some of the most respected names in Hollywood.
Sweeney’s latest release is the Oregon-filmed indie, Clementine. Part coming-of-age story, part psychological drama, Clementine tells the story of Karen, played by Otmara Marrero, as she reels in the aftermath of a breakup with her older girlfriend. Karen holes up in her ex’s secluded Pacific Northwest lake house, and there meets Lana, played by Sweeney, a bewitching teenager with a secret. “I was really looking for a beautiful film,” says Sweeney. “I loved [Lana], I loved the mystery to her and the twist at the end of who she is.”
Lana and Karen’s mutating relationship drives the film forward, morphing from sisterly to maternal to sexual and back again. What is constant, however, is the air of suspicion that hangs around Lana, and we’re left wondering which parts of her are real and what is a game. “I think that when you are that age, and you’re coming into your own sexuality and your own confidence, you do play around with it,” Sweeney says. “That was something that came naturally.”
Sweeney herself is also more than meets the eye. The 22-year-old is a trained MMA fighter, and counts a Ronda Rousey biopic as one of her dream roles. “I really fell in love with [MMA]. It’s a really cool skill and strength and power that I hold that many people, when they look at me, they’re like, ‘Yeah right,’ and I’m like, ‘Let’s go to a ring, I’ll fight you,’” she says.
In addition to spending time in a dojo, Sweeney is also a classically trained vocalist and self-proclaimed book nerd. While quarantined at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, she started a book club on Instagram. “I collect a lot of books and my dream one day is to have a giant library,” says Sweeney. “So I wanted to share my love for books and reading with people to kind of bring us all together right now.”
As for the second season of Euphoria, the pandemic has put production on hold. While Sweeney has enjoyed having a moment to rest and focus on self-care, she’s excited to reunite with the cast and get back to work. Though she can’t reveal too much of what we can expect from season 2, Sweeney promises we won’t be disappointed. “It’s going to be absolutely incredible,” she says.