A few weeks ago, Sydney Sweeney was grappling with a tough decision.
“I’m still debating between two dresses, and they’re both amazing,” says the actress. “They’re both completely different, which is why it’s a little hard to decide, because it’s literally night and day.”
She ultimately chose the beaded column gown by Brock Collection, which she donned for the L.A. premiere of “Sharp Objects.” Sweeney appears in the dark Amy Adams-led HBO miniseries, which is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and billed to be this summer’s answer to “Big Little Lies.”
“The show is a puzzle — that’s what’s so fun about it. Reading the script it was a puzzle as well,” says Sweeney of the show, which was adapted from the Gillian Flynn novel. “I auditioned for it, and of course I had seen ‘Big Little Lies,’ so I really wanted to work with Jean-Marc Vallée. And I read about the way that [Vallée] works with his actors, how he uses all natural lighting and it’s really just him and the DP in the room with you, and he just lets you play.”
While her character is a supporting role, she shares her screen time intimately with Adams. She has nothing but praise for the actress. “[Adams] is absolutely phenomenal. She and I were able to dive into our characters together, and sometimes [Vallée] wouldn’t call cut and we would stay in [the scene], and we would play off of each other and really push each other to go further,” she says. “I’ve been so lucky to be able to have so many different female role models now that I, one, get to work with, two, get to watch and learn from.”
“Sharp Objects” only bolsters what is proving to be a breakout year for Sweeney, who also stars as a pivotal character (who made a dramatic exit earlier this week) in season two of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” In late June, it was revealed that the actress has signed on to costar with Pete Davidson and Machine Gun Kelly in the forthcoming comedy “Big Time Adolescence,” and she recently wrapped the pilot for HBO’s gritty coming-of-age drama “Euphoria,” alongside Zendaya. Later this year, she’ll appear with Andrew Garfield in “Under the Silver Lake,” which premiered at Cannes in May.
It’s all added up to a lot of character work for Sweeney, who creates books for each of her roles, covering their background from when they were born up until audiences meet the character on screen.
“It’s kind of like an interactive visual diary slash timeline slash memory book,” explains Sweeney. For her “Handmaid’s Tale” character Eden, the process involved diving deeper into the dystopian world of Gilead. “There’s diagrams of her world, her house, her town, where she is now; there’s diary journals in there, there’s letters, and then there are relationships with different people that have been in her life that you don’t actually meet, and then there are people that you actually meet in the show,” she says. “I made sure that I created a structure and a world that Eden would have grown up in.”
The 20-year-old actress has also been sharpening her analytical edge. She is currently studying entrepreneurship at a California college, and her foray into acting can be traced to a similar mindset.
“When I was younger, this movie came to town and I found out about it, and I begged my parents to let me audition for it. And they were like, ‘Oh, being an actress is like wanting to be a princess; it’s just a fairytale,’” recalls Sweeney, a native of Washington state. “And I ended up creating this five-year business plan presentation of what could happen if you let me audition for this movie. And they were like, ‘Oh, wow, she’s maybe serious about this.’ And that kind of just started me into an acting career.”
Turns out, it was a solid business plan. “Evidently so,” she agrees. “This industry is a business — I’m a business myself, and I want to be able to run my own business. I’d love to have a production company one day, and I’d love to maybe venture out with other industries.”
Her projects of late have involved an element of secrecy, and she’s similarly tight-lipped about details of her plans — although she offers that she’ll soon head to New York to film a movie, with another project on the horizon to begin in September. While she has been weaving her way between genres on screens big and small, her educational background may also prove helpful in navigating her way behind the scenes, too.
“I would love to write and direct,” she says. “I’m really into both sides of the industry — in front of the camera and behind the camera. I love the business side of it; I love all of the contracts and negotiating and the different connections that you can make. So I want to just dive into it as much as I possibly can.”