Actress Sydney Sweeney, one of the young stars of Euphoria, recently talked to The Hollywood Reporter about finding out that Leonardo DiCaprio, who she co-stars with in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is a fan of the hit HBO series.
Euphoria, which ends its first season next week, has seen Sweeney’s character Cassie Howard deal with a difficult upbringing, a leaked sex tape and an unexpected pregnancy. The show has been met critical acclaim as well as protests from conservative Christian groups for its stark portrayal of teen life in the new millennium.
Cassie, who seeks affection and validation through sex, finally finds some stability with boyfriend Chris McKay, yet the teen ends up getting pregnant and struggles with the decision of whether she should keep the baby or have an abortion as her boyfriend suggests.
Sweeney, 21, has already appeared in several high-profile series, including The Handmaid's Tale and Sharp Objects. The young actress says she keeps a character journal for Cassie, which explores her character’s life from birth to the present. She tries to make a concerted effort to represent her characters as honest and realistic human beings. “I'm telling this person's truth because something that happened to Cassie when she's three years old might affect the way she speaks to a person when she's 16,” she says.
The actress says that below her promiscuous persona her character is fact just a “terrified and scared” teenager that is afraid to be alone. However, when she finds out she’s pregnant, she realizes that she may have someone by her side always, which makes her consider keeping the baby despite her boyfriend’s objections
Sweeney says Euphoria tackled the issue of teen pregnancy, which has been a standard television topic since the 1980s, in a much more raw and emotional manner that doesn’t glamorize or romanticize the issue. As for the crude representation of sex, drug abuse and teenage life that the show presents, Sweeney believes that it is “a very real and true representation of what's going on" in the world.
She hopes that Euphoria inspires conversation and that teenagers can see themselves in the show’s characters and “know that they're not alone.” As for the positive feedback that she has received regarding the show from her Once Upon a Time in Hollywood co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, Sweeney says that she shared the news with Euphoria castmates, who were “freaking out in our group chat.” They even decided to make T-shirts that quote Dicaprio’s love of the show.