Sydney Sweeney only does projects that scare her

Sydney Sweeney is quickly becoming one of the brightest stars in Hollywood, and over the last few years, she’s mostly done it through offbeat, unconventional, extremely entertaining movies. Ahead of the release of her latest movie, the nun-horror film Immaculate, Polygon talked to Sweeney about how she picks her projects, and what it means to star in them versus produce them.

According to Sweeney, her process for choosing scripts and projects is simple: It has to scare her. When she’s thinking about scripts, she explains, “If something scares me in a challenging way, then that’s the one I should do.”

It didn’t hurt that Immaculate scared her for more reasons than the sense that it was a challenging role. She first auditioned for the movie a decade ago, when she was 16 — long before Euphoria skyrocketed her fame. Sweeney says Immaculate was “very different” when she first auditioned for it, but that it stuck with her. So when she created her own production company, Fifty-Fifty Films, and started thinking about how to weaponize her love of horror movies for her next project, she immediately wanted to track down the script that still creeped her out all those years later. When she found out that Immaculate was still unproduced, she says she had to jump at that chance.

“I hadn’t seen a character that had gone on such a journey with a crazy arc like Cecilia,” Sweeney said. “She starts off in such a quiet, pure, innocent space and just goes through such a transformation. […] So it’s really fun to have a character on the acting side that just stretches your legs and challenges you in new ways.”

Image: Neon/Everett Collection

To take all those risks, both as a producer and an actor, Sweeney says she needed people around her she could trust, which is why she hand-selected the crew and picked her frequent collaborator Michael Mohan to direct.

“Mike and I have worked together on multiple projects, and I’ve always felt like I’ve had such a great relationship with him where I can follow him up,” Sweeney said. “Mike actually listens and will even fight me on my opinions, which I think is important. You do not want to have a yes-manager as your partner.

“And I think we just see movies the same way. I love that he is loyal to his team. I love it. He’s loyal to the crew members. I like how he works on set. […] And as a producer, I want to make sure that the sets I run also have a similar environment to those I’ve experienced as an actor working with Mike. Having him as a leader on the project, I know that everybody will feel respected and enjoy their experience.”

While fear of failure and promise of new and exciting success might be critical for Sweeney as an actor, her choices for her production company are a little bit different, though no less risky.

“On the producing side, it’s more that I just want to try out everything and see what I like most, or what I might be better at,” Sweeney said. “And until I discover that, I’m going to keep trying different genres.”

Immaculate is in theaters now.


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