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The Handmaid’s Tale actress Sydney Sweeney talks about the #MeToo era and tells her dead character, Eden Spencer, how she could’ve been livin’ her best life.
Despite her characters with dark backstories and tragic endings, 21-year-old actress Sydney Sweeney (The Handmaid’s Tale, Sharp Objects) is doing just fine. YR Media's Nyge Turner and Merk Nguyen get Sydney to spill the beans on her acting methods, her co-stars who are slaying the industry, and to share why being a woman can be hard AF.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Check out the full conversation on YR Media's Adult ISH podcast (episode 2) and at yradultish.com.
Nyge: Some of your movie characters have really dark pasts like Alice from Sharp Objects and Eden from The Handmaid's Tale. But from the looks of your insta, it looks like your real life is pretty poppin’. So, how do you get in your zone to play these darker roles?
Sydney: I build my characters from the day they were born to the first page of the scripts. I build everything a regular person would have -- memories and a timeline of their entire life. I build the house that she grew up in, her school, her friends, anything that would create the actual person.
Merk: It's super nice to see you play all those characters because not only do you do a fantastic job, but you're repping for us young women out there. Would you say your experience as a young woman in Hollywood is different from your fellow female cast mates who are little older? Especially in the wake of things like #MeToo?
Sydney: I've been really lucky because I have so many incredible female role models that I'm getting to work [with]: Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, and Amy Adams. You see them as an actor, a producer, Amy as a mother, and [I am] able to learn from that.
Nyge: Let's get into your The Handmaid's Tale character, Eden. I’m curious. How did that go when you found out about the part?
Sydney: When I first got the audition, I actually hadn't seen the show yet and I was like, “Okay, I need to watch one episode to see what it's like.” I ended up watching the entire season that night. When I got done, I ran out of my room and was like, “Mom you have to watch this!” So that weekend, I rewatched it all over again with my mom. She fell in love with it and then had all her girlfriends watch it because they were like, “You will not believe how realistic the show is right now.”
Nyge: What do you think is realistic about the show today?
Sydney: Well, of course, women's rights. We still have a long ways to go. Improving our status and the world and how people look at women and things along those lines.
Merk: So, Sydney what's the most challenging thing about being a woman?
Sydney: It's always hard growing up and you have all these different expectations of what a woman should be and what you should act like. Then trying to figure out who you really are within all of that and what you want to be outside of what everyone else says you should be.
Then trying to figure out who you really are within all of that and what you want to be outside of what everyone else says you should be.
Nyge: Merk, what do you think is the hardest part about being a woman?
Merk: I would say one of the most challenging things is how people can dismiss you. Mainly, my ideas. I feel like a big part of the reason why I'm doing the work that I do is because I'm proving to people that I'm a woman, I'm smart, and I want to be respected because of it. I do feel like I have to work harder than dudes because of that. Because of the system we live in and all the rules that have been in place. Kind of like Gilead, but I like to say that our generation has a lot more awareness.
Sydney: Yeah I think [we] do. I mean I'm really lucky in the generation that I am growing up with.
Merk: We like to end this segment with a chance to tell our younger, less adult-ish selves some advice. But we want you to answer as Eden, so channel her spirit (as if she wasn't dead), and answer this: If you could go back in time and tell little Eden something about what it means to be a woman, what would you say?
Nyge: Can you say it in Eden's voice?
Sydney: (in Eden’s Voice) I would hope to tell my younger self that…(normal voice) Oh gosh! I don't even know. What would Eden tell Eden!?
Sydney: Honestly, I would tell Eden to have Nick’s babies!