If any actress has shown viewers their range in the last year it would be Sydney Sweeney, who at 24 has a jam-packed roster of top-tier projects including HBO‘s Euphoria and The White Lotus.
Sweeney shines in her these very different roles of Cassie Howard in the Sam Levinson-helmed teen ensemble and Olivia Mossbacher in Mike White‘s quirky resort tale. In Euphoria‘s first season, Cassie’s love of love was evident, but her desire to find it in Season 2 gave Sweeney some of her meatiest work yet. She was sent on an emotional ride that ranged from hiding a hookup with Nate Jacobs (Jacob Elordi) from his ex and her bestie Maddy Perez (Alexa Demie) to intense bathroom breakdowns and onstage brawls.
In addition to the fighting, screaming, and slapping in Cassie’s Season 2 arc, Sweeney found another approach to emotional intensity as a judgmental college student vacationing with her wealthy (and dysfunctional) family and best friend in The White Lotus. Olivia’s scathing side-eye while poolside permeated the TV screen spurring viewers to wonder, is she judging at me?
Below, we caught up with Sweeney about her process, the differing experiences on each show, and digging deeper into her series regular role as Cassie on Euphoria.
After a breakout first season on Euphoria, you stepped into a very series last summer with The White Lotus. What drew you to the character of Olivia?
Sydney Sweeney: I think that I was really excited and challenged by who Olivia was as a character. And also I loved that it was a dramedy, with subtle comedy within it. I’d always been a little scared of comedy because I wasn’t sure if I was funny or not. So I wanted to challenge myself and I always wanted to do something that people wouldn’t expect me to do next.
She’s definitely quite different from Cassie Howard. Is that something you look for when taking on new projects?
Yeah. That’s mainly what I look for in characters. Is it different? Is it a challenge from other characters that I’ve previously played? That’s the fun part of being an actor.
Was working on The White Lotus with Mike White at the helm easier because of your experience of working with Sam Levinson on Euphoria? Both shows are very much the products of their showrunners.
I had that on Sharp Objects with Jean-Marc Vallée and I had that on Everything Sucks! with Michael Mohan. So I think I’m more used to working with filmmakers than [like we had in] The Handmaid’s Tale, where we had different directors come in for different episodes.
Cassie really hits rock bottom on Euphoria‘s second season. Is there any special ritual you have before filming these intense scenes?
No. I built my characters so thoroughly and made them their own person [so] that I’m able to jump in and out of who they are, how they think, how they would move, and how they would react. And so when they call “action,” I just become Cassie, and then when they call “cut,” I’m Sydney.
You recently revealed that some sequences from Euphoria‘s second season were filmed out of order. Is that a difficult process?
I think it’s easy because I know the character so well at this point and I do a lot of preparation before we start filming on day one, making sure that I know what day is filming what scene, and I’m mapping everything out and keeping track of the rollercoaster. But Cassie has become a second skin to me that it’s been very easy to just go into it, and know where she is, and where her mindset is at.
Cassie was always spending time with her girls Maddie and Lexi in Season 1, but she was more isolated from them in Season 2. Was that lonely?
It’s definitely not lonely because we all still get ready in the morning together and we all hang out in our trailers. So it never really truly felt lonely by any means. But it’s always nice being able to be surrounded by your friends on set, especially with a show like Euphoria.
Both shows were filmed during the pandemic, but how was shooting The White Lotus in Hawaii during that time?
It felt like a tropical version of The Shining.
That sounds like a scary good time… I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not?
No, we weren’t allowed to leave the resort and no one was allowed to come onto the resort. So we were stuck there, but it was a beautiful kind of stuck, amazing kind of stuck. We had each other and the hallways just somehow slowly became longer, and longer, and longer, every day you walked them.
You worked with such a variety of actors on The White Lotus, were there any tips or tricks you picked up from them while filming?
Oh, I loved it. I always feel like I get to observe and learn so much from [more experienced] people. Euphoria was actually one of the first shows that I worked with people my own age. I was usually always the youngest person on set. So I’ve always enjoyed sitting back and watching and trying to learn as much as possible, whether it’s advice people say or just watching people’s actions.
The show will be back for Season 2, and although the new cast was announced, would you consider reprising your role if asked back?
I’m always down to revisit Olivia. I love Mike White and would love to work with him again.
When it comes to what’s next for Cassie, are you told in advance about her storyline?
Oh, that’s definitely more a Sam [Levinson] question. He will give us tidbits of what he’s thinking, but until he fully sits down and puts his mind to writing it all, we don’t know until he’s done.
Is that nerve-wracking or do you just have total faith in where the story is going next for her? What’s the collaboration process like with Sam?
I fully trust and have faith in Sam, but I’m always excited and anxious to see what he puts together for her. Sam is very collaborative and creative with us as actors because we are so close to our characters, so there’s always a fluid discussion in every scene that we do.
There have been so many great moments for Cassie already, from her hiding in the bathtub in the Season 2 premiere or her onstage fight with Maddy in the penultimate episode. What was your favorite scene to film so far?
I think that it’s so hard to pick one scene that I was excited about because I enjoyed all of it. I think that one of the things that [I loved] the most is when I saw all these memes and pictures of when Cassie is getting dragged upstairs after she threw up everywhere, and she’s crying and her mom’s taking her upstairs. I was like, “Oh my God, I had no idea my face could get that red.” It’s funny, little things like that
Season 2 left Cassie and Lexi at odds. How was it digging deeper into that sister dynamic with Maude Apatow — was it hard fighting with her or fun being at odds?
It was a mixture of both because Maude and I really do love each other. And if I had a sister, I wish it could be Maude. We had the hardest time not laughing together. To be angry at each other, but we couldn’t stop laughing. We hung out all the time and we would just laugh, so it was a challenge because we liked each other. [But] it was really cool to go to these different places as characters because we are so comfortable with each other that I think we helped push each other to go further.
Considering everything Cassie goes through in Season 2, are those scripts tough to read, or do they present an exciting challenge as a performer?
I love it because I want to be challenged as an actor. I want to go to places that are dark or happy like Cassie did all over the place. And that’s the kind of stuff that makes me feel really good. When I was reading it, I was so excited. I could not wait to film all the scenes. I was like a giddy kid because I enjoy going through the rollercoaster emotions that Cassie got to go through. That’s what I, as an actor, dream of doing, is being able to go to different places that are either scary, challenging, dark, or happy, all over the place.
Source: TV Insider