Don’t put Sydney Sweeney in a box – and don’t judge her by her cover. The former is a lesson she taught casting in Hollywood’s casting directors, and the latter is what she learned from her latest role as a former intelligence specialist on Reality Winner.
In 2017, Weiner was arrested by FBI officers who showed up at her home to investigate her role in the mishandling of classified information. Sweeney portrays a detective in the new HBO movie; The film’s dialogue was taken directly from a transcript of Weiner’s tense conversation with the FBI on the day of her arrest.
“Once she met reality and got to know her, she was really speaking her mind,” Sweeney says of playing Weiner. “So whatever she was saying in the script, she was feeling it and thinking about it. I was able to find all the different layers underneath it. I really enjoyed it.”
First, writer-director Tina Sutter introduced Sweeney to Weiner and the pair began texting and, eventually, video chatting. “We zoomed in for a few hours. She was kind enough to just let me ask a bunch of life questions and get to know her, learn about her relationships and her family and her experience with FBI interrogation,” says Sweeney. “She’s got a sense of humor! Once I got to know her, and I went back and re-read the script, and I was like, ‘Oh, I see the humor here.'”
Sweeney was enthusiastic that the film “humanises an experience that has become deeply politicized” and did not choose sides. “It was a new and exciting experience for me,” she says. “We’re really showing a moment in a woman’s life. It really is what happens, literally.”
Plus, it gave the actor — best known for playing the unhinged Cassie Howard in “Euphoria” and the spoiled teen Olivia Mosbacher in “The White Lotus” — a chance to do something entirely new. At 25, she feels fortunate to finally be eclectic, focused on projects that challenge her and that are unlike anything else she’s done. In turn, she says, “I shocked people with the choices I made with my characters.”
But it wasn’t always easy.
“There are always people who see me as Cassie or who see me as Olivia. They send me texts that look just like that. They are the ones I have to fight for, and usually the ones I want are different, like ‘reality’. I had to audition for it. I had to put myself out there.” on tape and send my audition just like everyone else’s,” she explains. It was the same for ‘White Lotus’. They didn’t think I was a good fit for ‘White Lotus’, because I did Euphoria. So I put myself on tape, auditioned for ‘White Lotus’ just like everyone else and got a call back like everyone else. I can get roles similar to the ones I’ve played, but the different roles, the ones that surprise the people I do, are the ones I usually have to fight for.”
Next, she will star opposite Glen Powell in Will Gluck’s “Anyone But You,” marking Sweeney’s first time handling a romantic comedy.
“It was so much fun, honestly. We were laughing every day and the cast and crew were just a really cool bunch of people, and we all got along. It felt like summer camp. It was a great break from everything else I’ve been doing,” she says. “It was my first time doing something like this. So I definitely enjoyed it. And I might be looking for more.”
She will also return for the third season of “Euphoria.” Even though it’s been over a year since the second season ended, she still hasn’t seen any scenarios for what’s to come. While the delay could be extended due to the writers’ strike, creator Sam Levinson has also been working on his next show, Idol.
“I just hope I can continue to challenge myself as an actress and go crazy places with it, because she’s such a crazy, wildly sexy character and it’s so much fun to play,” she says of Cassie. “Whatever Sam decides he wants to do with her, I’m totally interested in seeing Sam. I’m excited.”
“Reality” premieres on HBO May 29 at 7pm PT / 10pm ET and will be available to stream on Maxx.