V Girls: Sydney Sweeney Nominated by Elisabeth Moss

V Girls: Sydney Sweeney Nominated by Elisabeth Moss

The 21-year-old actress is among our fleet of on-screen talents on the heels of stardom.

The 21-year-old actress is among our fleet of on-screen talents on the heels of stardom.

Photography: Milos Nadazdin

Styling: Yana Kamps

Text: Maxwell Williams

As the Discovery Issue, V117 features our cast of the latest and greatest ahead, as nominated by the cultural forces of now. This feature appears in the pages of V117, our Spring Preview 2019 issue, on newsstands today!

Whether as a cryptic plot-thickener on HBO’s Sharp Objects or a mean-girl turned love-interest on Netflix’s Everything Sucks! Sydney Sweeney’s characters are usually not what they seem. Of her role on The Handmaid’s Tale as the controversial wife to sympathetic driver Nick (Max Minghella), Sweeney says, “I’d have people come up to me and go, ‘I hate you. I hate your character.’ I’m like, alright, thanks? But later, I’d hear, ‘We love you, we feel so bad for Eden.’ It was cool seeing the fans switch from hating her to being heartbroken for her.”

Landing three water-cooler shows in one year might seem like a stroke of luck, but Sweeney has been sewing her success with bit parts and small budgets since 2009. “I don’t know why or how, but everything did just fall into place,” Sweeney says. “All at once, all these incredible projects and characters came about, and I’ve got an amazing team to make sure that I could do it all.” Next up is Under the Silver Lake from A24 in April, followed by Sweeney’s biggest break to date: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, alongside the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Al Pacino.

The audition process was textbook: a few callbacks, followed by a reading at Tarantino’s office, surrounded by posters and maquettes of his iconic films. “They told me I got it that night while I was at an event, so I couldn’t really freak out,” she says. “It was killing me.”

While many actresses might have psyched themselves out at the prospect of such a high-profile project, Sweeney stays ready. “The first day on set was a dream; I wanted to cry, scream and smile at the same time,” she says. When it comes to working with industry titans, from Pitt and Pacino, to Drake on the series Euphoria (coming to HBO in July) Sweeney is studious. “I create interactive timelines of each character’s life, from the day that she was born until the first page of the script: every memory, every birthday, every house and town she lived in. They become a real person.”

And just like many of her characters, Sweeney herself embodies the lesson that looks are deceiving; despite her youthful, 21-year-old frame, Sweeney is a fierce athlete. “I grew up on a lake on the border of Washington and Idaho. I slalom ski, I wakeboard, I hike and rock climb,” she says. But the real twist? She’s a competitive MMA fighter. “I did an [MMA] tournament once, and I got first place,” she says. After a pause, she adds, “Against all guys.”

Sweeney wears dress, corset, choker, earrings by Alexander McQueen Resort 2019

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