Sydney Sweeney: Queen of Hearts
Story by Katherine Gillespie / Photography by Cole Sprouse09 April 2020
After her PAPER shoot with Cole Sprouse, Sydney Sweeney relatably confesses that she was just as excited to meet the actor-photographer's girlfriend and Riverdale co-star Lili Reinhart — the two are something of a package deal. Not that she isn't a Sprouse fan. "It was so much fun," she says of the day spent trying on extravagant frills and collars in Beverly Hills. "I've always thought Cole takes really sick pictures, and when I saw all the wigs I got really excited!"
Related | PAPER People: Sydney Sweeney
Costumes come naturally at this point. Sweeney's credits list is prestige production only: Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale, then Sharp Objects and Euphoriaon HBO. A Tarantino moment, in last year's Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood, where she shared a scene with Brad Pitt. It goes without saying that the tastemakers over at A24 took notice of Sweeney early on, when she appeared in 2018's lauded Under the Silver Lake.
"I always strive to be able to play different characters from myself, and then different characters from each other," she says. "And life for the past couple years has been that, so I'm really thankful."
As the actor would have it, her resume is deceptive. "A lot of people are like, 'Wow it happened so fast,' but it was a lot of hard work for years," she says. "And luckily we're in a time where they're making more roles for women and girls." As a child, she presented a business plan ("a PowerPoint presentation slideshow kind of thing") to her parents that laid out a detailed strategy for conquering Hollywood. "I was 12 years old then," she recalls. "I'm 22 now. It took a long time to finally get the roles that caused more momentum."
Sweeney's turn as Cassie on Euphoria has propelled her the furthest. Blonde but less ditzy than meets the eye, think of Cassie as the revenge fantasy of infamously maligned party girl Caroline Mulford in John Hughes' Sixteen Candles. She's beautiful and popular and hey — guess what — isn't framed as a villain for it. Maybe it's a Gen Z thing? The actress worked closely with series creator Sam Levinson to hone the character, saying she "refused to sugarcoat anything" and wanted to make her "as close to the generation that we're portraying" as possible.
"Cassie is a very real, relatable girl," she says, speaking with affection. "There's so many aspects of her storyline and life that different girls and people can relate to, whether it's a broken home, alcoholic parents, relationships with boys, slut-shaming... She's still trying to figure out who she is as a person, and I think that as time goes on you'll slowly see Cassie figure herself out — or figure herself out less."
As for Sweeney, it seems like she's got her current career and future plans on lock. Speaking of, can we take a look at that Powerpoint presentation sometime? "I haven't seen it since then," she laughs. "My mom says she's keeping it hostage until she wants to release it."
Photography: Cole Sprouse
Styling: Ashley Furnival
Makeup: Natasha Severino
Hair: Pasquale Ferrante
Nails: Pilar Noire using CHANEL Le Vernis in Organdi
Production: Preiss Creative