Sydney Sweeney, along with the rest of us, saw her character Cassie take an emotional turn in the second season of the HBO hit Euphoria. From embarking on a secret relationship with her best friend Maddy’s ex-boyfriend, Nate (Jacob Elordi), to a chaotic end to Maddy’s birthday party, Cassie is front and center this season and , while battling his inner demons, sparked great memories. moments that have taken the internet by storm. Sweeney talks to THR on diving into Cassie’s darkest places and the other animated HBO show she starred in this season, The White Lotus.
How was this season of Euphoria different for you from the first?
I was definitely given a lot more real estate to be able to explore Cassie, between Cassie’s relationships, her own relationship with herself, her spirit, her emotion. There was just more for me to play with.
What was your hardest scene this season?
I feel like I’m growing personally and thoroughly enjoying Cassie’s very challenging and emotional roller coaster scenes. And the ones I had the hardest time with were in the hot tub with all the girls and Nate because I had to hold this tube in my mouth that was being pumped with fake puke. And I had to hold it in my mouth while my mouth filled with god knows what and act like nothing happened. I’m a very picky eater so there was random stuff that got in my mouth and I know that was the hardest part.
Your character finds himself in dark times this season. How do you get to this place?
I created a very safe bridge for myself to become my characters where I create these character books that allow me to completely lose myself as Sydney. I don’t really need to do any process or think about anything other than the homework I put in Cassie, because I’m able to live the moment through her. Whatever you say to Cassie, whatever happens to Cassie, those are really reactions in that moment. They’re not premeditated, it’s just that Cassie would naturally react to something. Once they call, I can hop over to Sydney and be completely separate from it all. It would be very heavy if I had to think about all the things Cassie was going to have to go through because she had so many tough and emotional scenes. Being able to jump in and out easily has definitely saved my sanity.
Can you say more about these books?
Basically, it’s my character’s entire life in a book, and I’m filling in any gaps that maybe aren’t in the scripts. I create a whole world for her so that I know how something will trigger her because of a moment that happened in her life. We are all who we are because of our memories and the moments that have happened throughout our lives. I’m able to react organically like that person would because there’s a life behind it. I do this for each character.
How long does it take ?
Whatever time I have! For Cassie, because we had to wait to find out if we were picked up in season 1 and we had such a long gap between season 1 and season 2, I had an awful lot of time to be able to work on that.
Did it come naturally to you?
It was. When I was little, I had all these friends and imaginary worlds, and I love creating things. I’m an arts and crafts person – Michaels is my heaven. When I was auditioning, I didn’t understand all these theater coaches wanting to rehearse in a certain way and not build a person. I always felt like it wasn’t natural and organic, so I started doing my own thing. It’s so much work. I stress myself out, and half the time my mom says, “You do it yourself,” and I’m like, “But that’s a job!”
How do your co-stars support each other as you go through tight arcs?
We have a very strong brotherhood on set. We all go through this together and we spend a lot of time together. We all became friends. It’s like slumber parties every day. We go back to our trailers and hang out, watch TV or random videos – really just hang out and chill with each other.
A few months ago, you were talking about having a voice and what you’re comfortable with when filming, especially nude scenes. What did you learn from this experience about your personal limits?
I always felt there were times needed [in which] Cassie only knows how to communicate through her body. I’ve always wanted to make sure that anything sexually used by Cassie advances the story. Sat [Levinson, showrunner] does a nice job of what it conveys through the eyes of the audience and through Nate’s eyes with Cassie, or Cassie’s own mind through sexuality. And having an intimacy coordinator on set is so amazing. It’s another person defending you, and it’s very technical. It’s by no means really sexy. But I never said any scenes were unnecessary – things were taken out of context. Sam is so amazing, but he would never force us or make us feel a certain thing about it. I could call Sam and be like, “Hey, I don’t ever want to do a scene like that again,” and he’d be like, “OK.”
Towards the end of the previous season, there were reports of how Sam is handling his set. What do you think about this ?
It takes a lot of hours and people to set it up. It’s definitely not a normal 9 to 5, and if you’re expecting it, you’re going to be bowled over. It’s a lot of work, but we’re very lucky Euphoria has touched the lives of so many people, and the hours and hard work everyone puts into it shows it.
Is it true that you felt pigeonholed after this role?
Cassie is a sexualized character, and that became a mold that was then [forced] about me as a human being instead of just Cassie. I saw people say, “Oh, she only got this because she showed her tits.” I had several shows and movies before I even did it Euphoria. I look very different in everything I do because I want to become the individual character, and I don’t want people to associate Sydney Sweeney with one character – I want them to feel like I’m fully alive another world and another person. People weren’t linking to this a few months before, I did Handmaid’s Taleor before i was in Everything sucks. And a month before I did Sharp objects and when people then started putting this together and seeing white lotusI think that’s what transformed the situation for everyone. You look at some of these amazing male actors playing the coolest, most diverse characters, and people are like, “Oh, cool.” No one ever puts any kind of stigma behind it.
How did you relate to your role in The White Lotus?
We were supposed to start shooting like March 15 or 18, 2020, but literally the day before we got shut down because of COVID and they were like, ‘We’re going to take a two-week break and let everything calm down then two weeks later it turned into five months, eight months, then a whole year later. In the middle of this, towards the summer, there was a show called white lotus. My team heard about it and saw that they had auditions. I did my tape with my mom, got called back, and met Mike White on Zoom. I was so blessed and honored to work through such a difficult time and in such a safe environment, and it was amazing to be surrounded by the greatest comedy cast you could ever be a part of. I’ve always been afraid of comedy because I never knew if I could do it. If something scares me, it means I’m going to challenge myself to do something that’s not innate to me as a person. To be able to be there and learn from everyone and build and create Olivia… It was a great, great experience.
Do you see any similarities between Olivia and Cassie?
No, I think Cassie would be terrified of Olivia and Olivia would hate Cassie.
What was your favorite scene to shoot?
Whenever we could do family dinner or breakfast scenes and everyone was sitting at the table and Murray [Bartlett] walking. You really felt the energy in the dynamics of what Mike was building.
What was your most difficult?
I had never smoked a bong before. I had no idea how to do it. I was like, “I’m going to look stupid!” It’s one of those moments where the whole crew is like, “That’s how I do it!” It was hard not to cough, but I ended up laughing and we kept it.
You have Mrs. Webb coming. What attracted you to it?
Oh my God. I grew up watching Marvel movies and superheroes are just the coolest thing ever. So I dreamed of being part of something bigger than life itself. And that’s what I feel like I belong with Mrs Webb.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in a standalone June issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.