Acting on today’s buzziest teens-in-trouble drama means performing many uncomfortable scenes. And Euphoria lives up to its street name, “A24 Degrassi,” by putting its underage characters through the gauntlet.
But bearing it all for the camera comes at a price with few benefits, says Euphoria star Sydney Sweeney, who has found that going nude hasn’t done much to help her career. On the contrary, she told The Independent that critics ignore her performance on Euphoria because of it.
“I’m very proud of my work in Euphoria. I thought it was a great performance. But no one talks about it because I got naked,” Sweeney said. “I do The White Lotus and all of a sudden critics are paying attention. People are loving me. They’re going, ‘Oh my God, what’s she doing next?’ I was like, ‘Did you not see that in Euphoria? Did you not see that in The Handmaid’s Tale?”
Unfortunately, Sweeney’s willingness to do nude scenes has often been a retelling of a familiar Hollywood story.“I’ve had experiences where I want to go home and scrub myself completely raw because I feel disgusting,” she said. “I didn’t feel comfortable with my castmate or the crew, and I just didn’t feel like my character would be doing it. That made me even more self-conscious. I didn’t feel like I was able to speak up.”
The pervasive sexist culture in entertainment thrusts nudity upon female actors under the assumption that if the performer refuses, they can lose their job or miss out on future work. Making matters worse, as Sweeney notes, gratuitousness onscreen nudity is dehumanizing. After all, it hasn’t even been a decade since Seth Macfarlane’s cringe-inducing performance of “We Saw Your Boobs” at the 2013 Oscars.
Thankfully, she’s found a comfortable collaborator in Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, who’s willing to drop a nude scene at the request of the performer. If the actor thinks nudity is unnecessary, Sweeney says that Levinson is okay with people keeping their clothes on.
“Sam [Levinson] is amazing,” Sweeney said. “There are moments where Cassie was supposed to be shirtless and I would tell Sam, ‘I don’t really think that’s necessary here.’ He was like, ‘Okay, we don’t need it.’ I’ve never felt like Sam has pushed it on me or was trying to get a nude scene into an HBO show. When I didn’t want to do it, he didn’t make me.”
Thankfully, people are starting to notice Sweeney’s work on Euphoria. In addition to becoming one of the show’s most popular memes, our reviewers have praised her performance. In a recent recap for the A.V. Club, Michael-Michelle Pratt singled out Sweeney’s work. They wrote:
Sydney Sweeney continues to deliver a perfectly tempered performance week after week, but her work here stands out for the fantasized monologue divulging Cassie and Nate’s relationship. The writing isn’t particularly inventive, but Sweeney is able to elevate it and embody Cassie’s manic episode, which is captured in her morning routine. The chaos subtly subsides as she arrives at school, but seems to reach its pitch as she encounters the other characters.