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‘Euphoria’ star Sydney Sweeney pushed back on nude scenes with director’s support

Sydney Sweeney as Cassie Howard in “Euphoria.”
(Eddy Chen / HBO Max)

“Euphoria” star Sydney Sweeney has opened up about her experience objecting to shirtless scenes on the set of the hit HBO series.

In a recent interview with the Independent, Sweeney said “Euphoria” creator and director Sam Levinson supported her concerns about appearing nude on camera.

The gritty teen drama stars Sweeney as Cassie Howard, a sensitive former figure skater navigating toxic relationships who is often perceived as promiscuous. Throughout the show, Sweeney’s Cassie has appeared partially naked in multiple sexual scenes.

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“There are moments where Cassie was supposed to be shirtless and I would tell Sam, ‘I don’t really think that’s necessary here,’” Sweeney told the Independent.

“He was like, ‘OK, 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.”

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In the first season of “Euphoria” — which has earned a reputation for showing a lot of skin (including several penises) — multiple guys take advantage of Cassie by coercing her into posing for nude photos or filming sex acts and posting the footage online.

In real life, many shared screenshots of Sweeney’s nude scenes across social media. Some even tagged her younger brother in the images, which Sweeney denounced as “the most hurtful thing anyone could do.”

“What I do is completely separate from my family,” she told the Independent. “My character is completely separate to me. It’s just so disrespectful and distressing.”

While filming “Euphoria,” however, Sweeney said she has always felt safe speaking up for herself — something she can’t say for all the projects she’s worked on. The 24-year-old actor has built an impressive resume in recent years working on Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and HBO’s “The White Lotus.”

During one production, for example, Sweeney said she “didn’t feel comfortable” with her castmate or the crew after the director refused her requests to tweak the script.

This post contains spoilers for Episode 3 of “Euphoria.”

“I just didn’t feel like my character would be doing it,” she said. “That made me even more self-conscious. I didn’t feel like I was able to speak up.”

Sweeney also sounded off about the “stigma against actresses who get naked on screen,” contending that, “When a guy has a sex scene or shows his body, he still wins awards and gets praise. But the moment a girl does it, it’s completely different.”

She said that double standard has affected critical reception of her performances, which have been largely overlooked until her sneering turn as spoiled brat Olivia Mossbacher in the critically acclaimed “White Lotus.”

In HBO’s teen drama “Euphoria,” creator Sam Levinson offers an unflinching glimpse into the lives — and the minds — of a group of high school students navigating substance abuse, gender and sexual identity, and the particular challenges of growing up online.

“With ‘The White Lotus,’ I felt like people were finally recognizing the hard work I’ve been doing,” she added.

“This is something that has bothered me for a while. 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. 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?”’”

New episodes of the second season of “Euphoria” premiere Sunday nights on HBO Max.


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