'Clementine' Star Sydney Sweeney Reflects on a Dream Year (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
There is perhaps no actress having a quicker meteoric rise than Sydney Sweeney. After just 10 years in the business, the actress has already worked alongside Amy Adams on Sharp Objects, Elisabeth Moss on The Handmaid's Tale, Andrew Garfield in the film Under the Silver Lake and Pete Davidson in the Sundance film Big Time Adolescence.
She'll next be seen with Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in Quentin Tarantino's anticipated ensemble film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, out on July 26 and opposite Zendaya in the buzzy new teen drama Euphoria, premiering June 16 on HBO.
“You know, this last year, I pretty much crossed off most of them from my bucket list," Sweeney tells ET about working with so many A-list stars in such a short amount of time.
Of course, before those two summer releases, Sweeney stars in the haunting new drama Clementine, which is making its world premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. The movie tells the story of recently single Karen (Otmara Marrero), who takes refuge in a secluded lake house where she hopes to lick her wounds alone. Instead, she encounters Lana (Sweeney), who Karen quickly becomes enraptured by thanks to her magnetic presence.
"I loved the mystery behind her. You weren't quite sure how she was, where she came from or who she was," Sweeney says of Lana, who has such a different approach to life. "Then all of a sudden, after this crazy relationship [that unfolds between the two women], you realize she's just another lost girl."
Filmed on location in Florence, Oregon, the set was isolated in a lakeside forest that felt like a storybook setting. "It really helped us dive into Clementine," Sweeney says, adding that the seclusion "definitely makes you feel like you're actually living in your character’s life."
While she continues to earn buzz for her supporting roles alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names, the film is her first major lead role. "I've always wanted this and worked toward this," she says of carving out more for herself with each new project. "When it's a bigger character and there's a lot going on for her and there are all these different elements that go into the character, I just love being able to dive into it."
No matter what, it’s certainly a nice lead into Euphoria, the American adaptation of an Israeli TV show that wasn't afraid to expose the darker side of teenage life. Written by Sam Levinson (Assassination Nation), Sweeney promises the HBO version will be as unflinching as the original. "It's a real look at growing up and nothing is sugarcoated," she teases. "Parents are going to watch this and go, 'Holy crap! This is not what my kids are doing.' And then teenagers are going to watch this and go, 'Oh yeah, that’s what we’re doing.'"
While it certainly sounds in keeping with recent hit teen dramas like Elite and Sex Education, Euphoria is not shying away from anything, casting its young stars -- including Storm Reid, Maude Apatow and Jacob Elordi -- in a whole new light. Playing Cassie, Sweeney was able to bring in some of her own real-life experiences into the show. "It was a very therapeutic experience," she says, adding that she felt like she owed it other girls that will be watching who have gone through similar experiences.
Of course, it should come as no surprise that working on the set of Euphoria was wildly different from the experience on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. While she can’t say who she’s playing, Sweeney reveals that Tarantino has a "no phones" policy on his set, forcing everyone in the cast and crew to interact with each other.
"We all really got to just dive into being on this film together and we all became really close," she says, adding that Tarantino would sit around and tell stories about his days in Hollywood, from different movies he's done to the people he's worked with. "It would have been an interviewer’s dream."
In fact, from filming Clementine to being on the set of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, this year "feels like a dream," Sweeney says. "I’m excited."