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12 Little-Known Facts About Sydney Sweeney

The past few years have been a rollercoaster for Sydney Sweeney. The 26-year-old actress first rose to prominence with television roles in "Everything Sucks!" and "The Handmaid's Tale," before gaining further attention with HBO's "Euphoria" and "The White Lotus." In an interview with Variety magazine, they hailed Sweeney as "an expert excavator of character, and a performer eager to forge her own path."

However, the actress' career hasn't been without its ups and downs. She's faced career setbacks, near-death experiences, and controversy since becoming a household name. In an industry filled with figures who may cower in the face of vulnerability, Sweeney has proven again and again that the things that terrify her the most are the ones that imbue her with more confidence.

Sweeney's hard work from her teenage years and beyond is just now beginning to pay off in massive ways. Her rom-com "Anyone But You," co-starring Glen Powell, has become a sleeper hit at the box office, grossing $170 million against a budget of $25 million. She also recently debuted as the live-action, iconic Spider-Woman in Sony's "Madame Web," which could be the next big step in turning her from a beloved TV character actor to a full-fledged blockbuster star. However, behind the mask, there's still plenty that people don't know about Sydney Sweeney. 

Her childhood love of sports taught her discipline

Before she had any real prospects of becoming an actress, Sydney Sweeney lived an average life growing up in Idaho. She was incredibly close with her family, given that her lifestyle was far more rural than she'd later find in Hollywood. However, Sweeney's interests were always extra-curricular, as she was heavily involved with sports while growing up. As she told The Herald Courier, "I was in every single sport possible. I was on the soccer team, the baseball team, the snow slalom ski team, I was wakeboarding ..."

Unfortunately, it was the latter of these athletic interests that nearly derailed Sweeney's life. At 11 years old, Sweeney was involved in a traumatic wakeboarding accident that left her face scarred, requiring 19 stitches. Nevertheless, her mom was adamant that Sweeney not give up on wakeboarding despite her fears, pushing her to return to the water shortly after recovering. Sweeney would later adopt this hard work ethic when she began pursuing acting as her profession. 

In her adult life, Sweeney continues to push herself athletically, sharing her adventures skiing, hiking, and rock climbing on social media. Sweeney also hasn't let her gender prevent her from a challenge, telling Women's Health that after moving to Los Angeles, "I really wanted to find something that was as physically challenging as everything [back home]," which led her to explore MMA training after taking cues from her male friends. 

She had to argue her case for pursuing acting

Despite having dreams of becoming an actress, there weren't many opportunities to flex that interest for Sydney Sweeney in the parts of Washington and Idaho where she spent her youth. Nevertheless, she got lucky when an indie film showed up in Spokane to film, needing locals to play extras, which enticed a 12-year-old Sweeney. However, she had the unfortunate obstacle of her parents to get through.

As she described to Coveteur, Sweeney had to take an unconventional approach to convincing her parents to let her audition. "I begged my parents to let me audition by putting together a five-year business plan presentation," she explained. "My mom is a lawyer, and my dad is in the medical field, so school has always been really important. I've always known how to communicate to them through that way." Luckily, the formal presentation worked, and Sweeney was allowed to audition, landing the role and making her film debut in "ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction." 

More roles began to accrue quickly for Sweeney, between commercial spots and TV guest spots, before the actress made the move to Los Angeles with her family at 13 years old. Eventually, she tested out of school and was able to continue pursuing acting with an on-set tutor, landing roles on "Grey's Anatomy" and "90210." 

Her past working for Universal Studios was questioned

Life wasn't exactly easy for Sydney Sweeney's family once they got to Los Angeles. As she described to The Hollywood Reporter, her family struggled to afford the LA lifestyle as opposed to the simple life in Spokane, which eventually put strains on her parents' marriage: "I thought that if I made enough money, I'd be able to buy my parents' house back and that I'd be able to put my parents back together ... But when I turned 18, I only had $800 to my name." She had to make ends meet, and fast. 

One way Sweeney tried to help support her family was by landing a job giving tours at the Universal Studios backlot. Although theme parks were a passion for her and her family, and she memorized the entire tour speech, she ended up quitting after only a month after booking a role in "Sharp Objects." However, when a clip of her discussing this went viral on TikTok, former employees of the Universal Studios backlot began to raise suspicions that she was telling the truth, explaining the rigorous audition process for hiring and that there was no evidence of her ever working there.

As The Hollywood Reporter later found out, she was in fact telling the truth, citing her hiring date as June 12, 2016, and her exiting date as July 18, 2016. "Sharp Objects," for the record, began filming in early 2017. 

Her role in Sharp Objects was meant to be smaller

2018 was a pivotal year for Sydney Sweeney's career, where she made three high-profile TV appearances. She had a main role in Netflix's teen comedy "Everything Sucks!", a recurring role in Season 2 of "The Handmaid's Tale," and a small part in HBO's miniseries "Sharp Objects." In the latter, which starred Amy Adams as a reporter recently released from a psychiatric ward, Sweeney played Alice, Adams' teenage roommate at the mental hospital.

As it was Sweeney's first appearance on HBO, she was keen to make the most of the opportunity. Although Alice was only intended to be a small role, Sweeney was dedicated to researching psychiatric patients and learning about the psychology behind self-harm — which clearly impressed the show's creators, including director Jean-Marc Vallée. As she recounted to Harper's Bazaar, they "kept bringing me back more and more for different scenes, and [Vallée would] add me in here and there, so really he and I were able to build my character together." 

The increased screen time for Sweeney's character also gave her more opportunities to take advantage of Adams' mentorship. Sweeney has credited Adams with giving her advice on how to balance the prospect of motherhood with trying to manage a steady acting career.

She impressed Quentin Tarantino with her Once Upon a Time in Hollywood audition

As if her career didn't already seem promising, in 2018, Sydney Sweeney was cast in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." Quentin Tarantino's second-to-last film centers on a fading TV star (Leonardo DiCaprio) in 1960s Hollywood, whose life becomes intertwined with that of the Manson family and their obsession with his next-door neighbor, movie star Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). Sweeney has a small but integral role as Dianne Lake, a member of the Manson Family, alongside Margaret Qualley, Lena Dunham, and Austin Butler. 

As many of the smaller cast members of "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" would allege, the auditioning process for Tarantino's film was a unique experience. Sweeney claims all the actors were sent the same sides, and were given the option to do "extra credit" without any specifications as to what they were looking for. In an interview with British GQ, Sweeney described the unconventional route she took. "I ended up writing a letter in character to [Charles] Manson," she revealed. 

Clearly, the extra credit Sweeney offered was enough to get her a callback, resulting in her being invited by Tarantino to a six-hour workshop with other actors before she finally landed the role. 

Euphoria helped her grow more confident

By far, Sydney Sweeney's biggest breakthrough role was as Cassie in HBO's drama series "Euphoria." In the very first episode, Sweeney made a memorable first impression through an encounter between Cassie and her boyfriend, McKay (Algee Smith), which set the tone for the show's frank portrayals of teen sexuality as well as its often explicit use of nudity. 

Since then, Sweeney's frequent nude appearances on the show have led to controversy from audiences. In an article for USA Today, Syracuse University's Robert Thompson stated, "I can certainly understand why parents find this [show] alarming because it presents examples of people their children's age who are living lives that are dangerous, brutal and sometimes extraordinarily unfulfilling." Surprisingly, Sweeney has fought back against these accusations toward the show.

In an interview with Christina Ricci for Variety's Actors on Actors, Sweeney opened up about how she's never felt uncomfortable on the set of "Euphoria" thanks to the help of intimacy coordinators, and that creator Sam Levinson has been respectful of her opinions on when nudity feels unnecessary. In fact, her nude scenes on "Euphoria" have had the opposite effect that some might assume, as Sweeney described, "I have weirdly become very confident with my body through Cassie." She has embraced nudity in other projects but has noted that sometimes it distracts from her work as an actor. 

She fought for her role in The White Lotus

While "Euphoria" was between seasons, Sydney Sweeney didn't stray far from HBO for her next big television project. In 2021, she appeared in the first season of Mike White's anthology series "The White Lotus" as Olivia, a college-aged guest at the titular hotel chain. The ensemble cast included the likes of Jennifer Coolidge, Alexandra Daddario, and Steve Zahn, though of the first season cast only Coolidge rejoined the show for its second season set at another hotel location.

Even by 2021, landing her role in "The White Lotus" wasn't exactly easy for Sweeney. She told Variety it was an opportunity to prove that her acting skills weren't just limited to playing Cassie in "Euphoria," saying, "They didn't think that I was right for 'White Lotus' ... So I put myself on tape, I auditioned for 'White Lotus' just like everybody else and had a call back like everybody else. I could get offered roles that are similar to the ones that I've played, but the ones that are different, the ones that surprise people that I do, are the ones that I usually have to fight for."

In addition to "Euphoria" Season 2 airing in 2022, Sweeney ended up being nominated for both "Euphoria" and "The White Lotus" at the 2022 Emmys in the categories of outstanding supporting actress in a drama series and outstanding supporting actress in a limited or anthology series. 

Sydney Sweeney restores vintage cars for fun

Outside of acting, Sydney Sweeney has kept herself busy with some hobbies that have surprised casual fans of her work. In 2021, Sweeney started to gain notoriety for her TikTok account, @syds_garage, where she posts content about her passion for fixing vintage cars. It all started with her dream car, a 1969 red Ford Bronco, which she opted to fix up herself rather than taking it to a mechanic. She told Teen Vogue: "People say, 'What do you do for you?' This is my escape. I feel like this is a relationship between me and the car and the parts." 

The origin of this hobby dates back to Sweeney's childhood, as she told Harper's Bazaar in 2022, "My babysitters (twin sisters) when I was little actually used to be race car drivers, and I'd go to the track a lot, and I thought I was going to be a race car driver when I grew up." Her love of cars has been a part of Sweeney's family for generations, with the actress actually learning to drive in her great-grandfather's Ford F-100. 

Sweeney has also seen her love of fixing cars and sharing her process on social media as a way to empower more women to enter into male-dominated hobbies. As of January 2024, Sweeney's TikTok account is still actively updating fans on her journey of repairing vintage cars, including the aforementioned Bronco and a 1967 Ford Mustang.

Fans criticized her over family photos

Even amidst all her success in Hollywood, Sydney Sweeney hasn't strayed far from her family, or her hometown. Whether it's through adorably cheesy Christmas traditions or buying back her grandmother's home, Sweeney certainly places her family high on her list of values. However, that comes with the price of having to defend her family's presence on social media, which has garnered controversy in recent years.

Notably, in 2022, Sweeney shared a series of photos from her mother's hoedown-themed 60th birthday party on Instagram. Very quickly, online fans began to scrutinize some of the photos, pointing out one relative wearing a Blue Lives Matter t-shirt, as well as others wearing what appeared to be red "Make America Great Again" hats. Sweeney argued against the outrage on Twitter, asking people to stop drawing conclusions about her and her family's politics from the photos. 

Sweeney later cleared up some of the misunderstandings in an interview with Variety, claiming the MAGA hats actually read "Make Sixty Great Again." As she explained, "The people who brought the things that people were upset about were actually my mom's friends from L.A. who have kids that are walking outside in the Pride parade, and they thought it would be funny to wear because they were coming to Idaho." She attributed the online outrage to the typical trend of people online enjoying building people up just to tear them back down. 

She dove deep into her role as Reality Winner

Sydney Sweeney's Emmy-nominated performances in "Euphoria" and "The White Lotus" would only be the start of her critically-acclaimed rise in Hollywood. In 2023, she portrayed Reality Winner in HBO's "Reality," a drama film depicting the former NSA translator's leak of government information on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election that led to a five-year federal prison sentence. Written and directed by Tina Satter, the film centers on her real-time police interrogation, with the real-life Reality heavily involved in the film's production as a consultant.

As Satter described in an HBO behind-the-scenes featurette, Sweeney's interest in Reality as a person and the similarities between them was what won her the part. For Sweeney, however, it was actually meeting with Winner over Zoom that was the most helpful. As she told The Hollywood Reporter, "We had regular contact, and I talked to her about the incident, but also about her life, the people she knew, her home, just about everything I could learn about her that I could draw from as an actor."

As previously mentioned, part of Sweeney's process with every character involves creating a journal that she fills with the entire character's life story up until the first page of the script. For "Reality," she filled this book of memories by talking to the woman herself, which seemed to resonate with Winner's real-life family after the film's premiere. 

Anyone But You was a dangerous set for Sydney Sweeney

More recently, Sydney Sweeney has ventured into the world of romantic comedy with 2023's "Anyone But You," in which she stars opposite seasoned rom-com veteran Glen Powell. In the film, the two play former hookups who begrudgingly decide to pose as a couple for a destination wedding, where their dislike for each other eventually turns into something sweeter. The film's box office performance is indicative of audiences' desire for more rom-coms, with the Quinnipiac Chronicle calling Sweeney "this decade's Katherine Heigl or Meg Ryan." 

However, the film's production was anything but romantic. During an appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," Sweeney described an instance where one comedic scene went horribly wrong. In the scene, Sweeney's character Bea accidentally discovers a giant spider while pretending to grab Powell's character's buttocks. In a freak moment while shooting, Sweeney was actually bitten by the spider and shared a bxoop of her reacting to the horrific incident, which could've been very catastrophic. 

She wanted her Madame Web role to be comic accurate

Sydney Sweeney's newest film, "Madame Web," finds her entering the cinematic world of Marvel Comics, albeit in the Sonyverse rather than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the film, Sweeney plays Julia Cornwall — an adaptation of Julia Carpenter, one of the most iconic comic book interpretations of Spider-Woman – in the hero's live-action debut. Joining her onscreen are Dakota Johnson as the titular clairvoyant protector of the Spider-Verse, and Celeste O'Connor and Isabela Merced as other Spider-Women. 

Given the pressure of bringing Spider-Woman to the big screen, Sweeney was dedicated to staying faithful to the character's comic book portrayals. One perhaps regretful choice Sweeney made was begging the filmmakers to allow her to appear upside-down while wearing the Spider-Woman costume, as a nod to the character's iconic pose from the comics. As Sweeney later recounted in a behind-the-scenes featurette, "I have a lot of photos of me just hanging upside-down, just waiting for 'Action!'"

Thankfully, Sweeney seemed enthusiastic about her first superhero role, describing her experience of trying on the Spider-Woman costume for the first time on Hot Ones: "When I put it on, I truly ... I felt like a superhero. It was the coolest thing ever."