‘It wasn’t great for a long time’: Sydney Sweeney on Hollywood

Sydney Sweeney

Sydney Sweeney received two Emmy nominations – one for her work as a titled millennial on “White Lotus” and one for the drama “Euphoria.”

(Celeste Sloman / For the Times)

Sydney Sweeney is riding high these days. The aspiring actress from Washington via Idaho is only 24, but she’s behind two stunning performances – in gritty teen drama Euphoria and the first season of anthology series The White Lotus. Then, on July 12, good things got better — she was nominated for Emmy Awards for both roles.

Certainly none of this happened overnight. Sweeney has been pursuing her acting dream for 10 years, proving that talent and perseverance really can lead to the red carpet. She spoke to The Envelope via Zoom from her Boston hotel where she is filming Sony’s action movie Madame Web, set in the Spider-Man universe.

How do you keep your characters separate in your mind?

I really see them as living, breathing people. I’m starting to build my characters as real people. I gave them memories. I give them a whole world and I create these books with a whole timeline and a journal and an interactive journal of that person’s life. So when I become that person, I don’t think, ‘How is she going to react?’ It’s ‘Sydney’s gone, and now I’m Cassie [in ‘Euphoria’]. Now I’m Olivia [in ‘White Lotus’].” I know how they’re going to react because I’ve “lived through” all of those memories and moments. So all these characters have their own heartbeat in a way.

It sounds like you have a writer lurking inside you. Is that a goal?

Total. I want to do everything I can. My parents always told me to fall in love with as many things as possible – and I’ve always followed that.

Madame Web is your first superhero film. Does that mean you can use all your mixed martial arts know-how?


You’re really trained in mixed martial arts. Why this combat area?

I loved all competitive sports – I wakeboarded, I skied, I played soccer – but when I came to LA [to pursue acting] I didn’t have time for team sports. My parents wanted me to have this interaction in this group environment. I am very athletic and had a friend who started training. I was fascinated by it and started going to his workouts and just watching and joining in.

Sydney Sweeney

(Celeste Sloman / For the Times)

I imagine you’re so athletic, you hurt yourself here and there too?

Oh yeah. I have a scar here [gestures at her cheek]. I was 12 and had a wakeboard accident. My whole body folded and my face was cut open by the board. I had to get 19 stitches. Then, at 16, I rode a dirt bike and tore my cruciate ligament. And then I broke my nose fighting.

Does that teach you how to deal with pain?

Sport didn’t teach me how to deal with pain. That was my mother. I was terrified to get on the wakeboard again, but the day my threads came out and I could get back in the water, she drove me out to the lake, stuck my screaming and crying ass in the water and said I was it wasn’t allowed to get off until I was back on that board.

And today you are –

So thankful. I’m not afraid. And I know my limits. i know my body i have been training [for MMA] with my leg in a whole whole cast rod. My parents instilled in me never to quit.

There’s a viral Instagram video of you in a car, on the phone, crying with her over your nominations. Was your mom in particular always in your corner?

I could not have achieved my dreams if she had not supported this decision. I was 12, 13 years old and my mom and dad gave up everything they knew so I could pursue my dreams. We lost friends, we lost our house, we lost everything in the persecution.

Did it get easier after everyone made their choice of career?

It wasn’t that great for a long time because it was just fighting, fighting, fighting [for jobs]. I had no connections. I didn’t come from the money. And when you’re 16 and you don’t really like yourself and you’re trying to figure out what the heck is going on with your body and your makeup and your hormones and people tell you that you’re not good enough — weight is like that difficult. But I had parents who definitely believed in me.

Sydney Sweeney

(Celeste Sloman / For the Times)

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/awards/story/2022-08-02/sydney-sweeney-euphoria-white-lotus ‘It wasn’t great for a long time’: Sydney Sweeney on Hollywood

Sarah Ridley

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