ATX TV Festival 2022: Sydney Sweeney
Euphoria talks keeping busy, and playlists for characters
By Mazzy Oliver Smallwood,
1:00PM, Sun. Jun. 5, 2022
Sydney Sweeney's busy. The Euphoria star's upcoming projects include Tony Tost’s directorial debut National Anthem, The Players Table, and the still-mysterious Marvel project Madame Web. When asked about her packed schedule, she replied, “I like to work … a lot.”
On Saturday afternoon, the ATX TV Festival awarded actor/producer Sweeney with their second annual Breakthrough Award. In a one-on-one discussion with Metacritic’s Danielle Turchiano, she discussed Euphoria, the exhaustive prep she does for each role, her relationship with social media, her work with her production company Fifty-Fifty Films, and the potential future of her character from the one-season cult favorite Everything Sucks!
Sweeney has seen the memes about her characters, but she doesn’t let the potential virality of her performances get in her head. “I don’t think about that. I just save the memes and send them to my mom in conversation.”
Sweeney revealed her “love-hate relationship” with social media as someone who didn’t grow up engaging with it. Her reveal that earlier in her career she used to lose out on parts because she didn’t have as many followers as her competitors raises concerns about how social media will affect casting choices.
While Sweeney doesn’t care what the audience thinks of her characters, she admitted that her Euphoria character, Cassie Howard, does sometimes get on her nerves. Describing a scene from the first episode of season 2, Sweeney recalled, “When she got in the car I was like, ‘Cassie what the fuck are you doing?!’”
When speculating about Cassie’s future in season 3, Sweeney said that while Cassie does need to make amends for her mistakes for her own sake, as an actress she’s had fun with Cassie’s more unhinged moments. “I enjoyed going crazy, so I hope she’s still a little crazy.”
Throughout the conversation Sweeney described the strict separation she creates between herself and her characters. “It’s almost like slipping in and out of different bodies,” Sweeney explained, “I scare a lot of people by doing it.”
Sweeney creates this distinction between herself and her characters by crafting detailed backstories for each new character she plays spanning from “literally the day they’re born” to where the script picks up. At the start of each new project Sweeney goes to Michael’s, buys a bunch of craft supplies, and gets to work creating a journal full of backstory, memories, timelines, and vibes that inform each character. Cassie's book, for example, contains “a lot of pages of melodramatic quotes she likes to take from songs.” (She often creates playlists for each character and revealed that season 1 Cassie Howard would be a huge Olivia Rodrigo fan, while season 2 Cassie would listen to a lot of Soap&Skin and Lana Del Rey.)
When asked about the future of her character Emaline from Netflix’s tragically short-lived series Everything Sucks!, Sweeney exclaimed, “I miss Emaline!” and said she envisions the character running the fictional Boring High before meeting a girl in college and living as an example of being different, and being yourself as a queer teen in the Nineties.
Sweeney also has her own production company, Fifty-Fifty Films, which she launched in 2020. Her first project is developing Jessica Goodman’s thriller They Wish They Were Us into a series for HBO Max called The Players Table, which will star Sweeney and musician Halsey. Sweeney revealed that writer Annabelle Attansio (Mickey and the Bear) is currently working on episode 3 of the series.
In her first dive into production Sweeney learned that “things take years to build,” and that running a production company is hard work, which is fine by her. She stressed that while she will star in The Players Table, she won’t be acting in most of the projects she’s producing. “I hope to give as many people as possible voices.”
ATX TV Festival, June 2-5. Tickets and info at atxfestival.com.