I had the pleasure of speaklng with Sydney Sweeney, the charming young acress who played Eden Blaine on the ground-breaking Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale. Sydney is a delightful person who has caught the public’s imagination with her portrayal of the child bride married off to Nick Blaine. The union is not one of love, but an arranged marriage with bearing children as the desired outcome. Sydney’s love for her character showed in the time that we chatted and her passion for performing was so clear.
Sad to Say Goodbye
TIBS: Good afternoon, Sydney, how are you today.
Sydney: Fine and how are you?
TIBS: Quite well today. Okay, let’s get the big question out of the way. How difficult was it to say goodbye to your cast and crew at the end of this episode?
Sydney: So hard. There were many tears and lots of hugs given. I have enjoyed so much being a part of this show. There are so many great times that I will take with me. Not being able to work with these people anymore was so sad.
TIBS: Anyone that you will particularly miss?
Sydney: Well, Max (Minghella) and I have really had a great time. We worked together the most, and got along so well. He has become a good friend, so it’s not a forever goodbye. I havae loved being with such an amazing group of women.
TIBS: How difficult was it to play such a true believer?
Sydney: Yeah, Eden was a convinced that she was doing the right thing in marrying Nick. She had the purest of intentions and believed what her mother told her, that this was the best thing. It was what God wanted and what was good for Gilead. She married Nick because it was being a good daughter and following what she had been brought up to believe. She had no agenda.
TIBS: That was something I thought about as to why she was in the Waterford house. Could Eden have been a spy set up by Gilead to inform on what was happening in that household.
Sydney: (Laughs) No, Eden would probably have never thought about that.
TIBS: So, it has to be asked. What about that bedroom scene between you and Max? How difficult was that to do?
Sydney: (laughs) There was a challenging day, it was hard to get to the end of the scene! Max was there for me and there was a lot of support from the crew. It was pretty strange.
TIBS: It was a most unusual outfit for a love scene with the sheet and being fully dressed?
Sydney: Yeah it was. The hardest thing to do was to look like we were actually doing anything.
TIBS: From baptism to drowning, it showed a bizarre cycle of life for Eden. How did you get through that scene?
Sydney: It was just great. I love being in the water, so I really looked forward to being under water and acting. The crew was worried about me, but I was prepared for the challenge.
TIBS: With her crime being her love for Isaac, you handled that scene so well. I know I was crying! Eden’s spirit truth came through.
Sydney: Wow, thank you. For me, I felt that Eden was a girl who believed in love and that’s what kept her from feeling any shame. She was true to her heart, and was convinced that she and Isaac loved each other. There was no wrong in that love. With Nick, there wasn’t any love or affection and his heart was with June. She found someone who shared her feelings and her heart.
TIBS: The beautiful reciting of the verse Love is Patient, Love is Kind (the Bible, ! Corinthians, 13:4-8a) was heartbreaking and glorious. Eden found beauty and love in the Bible. Very different from others in Gilead who use it like a weapon to justify sexism and abuse.
Sydney: I think that Eden wanted a good life and part of that was a loving God. Her belief that she was doing the right thing was what kept her on her path. Her simple belief in that goodness was inspiring.
Image courtesy of the Julie Chen Collection
TIBS: Tell me, what was it like to work with a cast with so many powerhouse actresses?
Sydney: It was really incredible. I looked at Elisabeth Moss and how she was with everyone and I was so in awe of her. She was so incredible with how focussed she was in scenes. Working with her was a dream come true. I had liked her stuff for a long time. And Yvonne (Strahovski) was so intense and yet so fun off camera. She has a really great sense of humour. Pretty much everyone did.
TiBS: By the way, congratulations on Sharp Objects, your new HBO series, where you play Alice. It also has a few powerhouse women on it, like Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson.
Sydney: Oh my God, it’s been really amazing working with Amy Adams. I have been a fan of hers for a long time. She’s been a bit of an idol of mine, so to work with her has been a real pleasure. I love the way she works and how she develops her characters. I feel very lucky.
TIBS: Cute question. How many people have asked you if you and D.B. Sweeney are related? (He plays Mr. Keene in Sharp Objects). There’s the myth that if two actors have the same last name, they have to be related!
Sydney: (laughs) A few, but I’ve told them, no we’re not related. I am related to no one in the acting field. It’s just me.
TIBS: You have touched a lot of people with your role as Eden. Any word to the fans of this character?
Sydney: It has been an incredible show to work on. I felt intimidated at the start, but by the end, we were all like family. Thanks to everyone for being so supportive of Eden. She was so fun to play.
TIBS: Sydney, it has been a pleasure talking to you. Good luck with Sharp Objects and thank you so much for what you gave to Eden and to the audience.
Sydney: Thanks. And have a happy 4th of July!
Want to chat about the show? Join us at our non-political Facebook group, The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu – Gilead Online
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