Storm Reid, Sydney Sweeney Praise 'Euphoria' for Showing "Real" Teen Experiences: "We Do Not Sugarcoat Anything"

Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Max Mara; Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Max Mara
Sydney Sweeney, Storm Reid

“We do not shy away from anything,” Sweeney told The Hollywood Reporter. "It may be hard to watch because it's so real."

Young stars of HBO’s forthcoming dark drama Euphoria said the show’s — often graphic — depiction of the teenage lifestyle makes it important viewing to set more realistic standards for teens.

Sydney Sweeney, who plays Cassie Howard on Euphoria, told The Hollywood Reporter at Tuesday’s InStyle Max Mara Women in Film Celebration that viewers are in for a "very real look" at what it’s like growing up today (the Drake-produced show, out June 16, has raised controversy for its portrayal of rape, drugs and explicit sex, depicting about 30 penises in one episode alone). 

"We do not shy away from anything. We do not sugarcoat anything at all. It may be hard to watch because it's so real," Sweeney said. "We're hoping that maybe we lift the veil of what some people think is happening in the world."

Growing up, she watched films and television shows that made her excited to go to high school and "have like the footballer ask me out and have love notes in my locker," said the actress, who has also appeared in The Handmaid’s Tale and Everything Sucks!. "That never happened. I was very disappointed, and I'm hoping that this is going to be one of those shows that will stick with a generation." She’s hoping parents will watch it and want to have more conversations with their kids to create "learning experiences."

Storm Reid, who portrays Gia Bennett on Euphoria, added that she was drawn to the project because it was something she hadn’t explored before — and having Zendaya (whom she calls "Z") play her big sister was another perk.

"I really love that the show is really talking about things that are not being really talked about, but things that need to be addressed with teenagers," Reid told THR. "I feel like it will bridge the disconnect between older people, whether that's parents or just older, wiser people."

The young actress, who starred in Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, took the opportunity to glean all she could from Zendaya, whose character Rue Bennett experiences a drug overdose in the show.

"I've always looked up to her … she's gone through all the experiences that I'm going through now," Reid said. "I can talk to her about the industry thing or just talk to her about being like a regular teenager growing up here in L.A. is really special, so I'm glad I have that."

The two actresses joined stars Lucy Hale, January Jones, Olivia Wilde, Cara Santana, Camila Mendes, Jamie King, Madelaine Petsch, Kaitlyn Dever, Alexandra Daddario, Lake Bell, Suki Waterhouse and Elizabeth Chambers at the Chateau Marmont on Tuesday evening for a cocktail party honoring Elizabeth Debicki with the Max Mara Face of the Future award.

While unable to speak about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Debicki reflected on the quick movement of more women going behind the camera in the past year. "People know what kind of stories they want to tell because they've waited a long time to tell them," she told THR. "So now that we have the platform, the kind of access to that, I feel like there's a speed and it's really exciting. There's a really sort of groundswell and people are taking up this sort of mantle and running with it. I think for me, what makes me so happy when I wake up in the morning is a sense of community."

Disney actress Peyton List, starring in The CW show Glamorous, said she’s felt that community by looking up to co-star Brooke Shields and director Eva Longoria, who demonstrate how to have a family and have a successful career. Longoria directed with her baby on her hip every day while her husband was behind the scenes. "I was just like, 'Oh my God, you're so cool,’" List said. "I worry about that because I know eventually I'm going to have children — and it's like, you don't have to give up your career."

She said Longoria is one of the best directors because she balanced being straight forward and polite — a standard only placed on women. "She doesn't apologize, but she gets it forward without being mean, and just giving her opinion. I feel like men do that all the time and they don't get shit for it, so women should be able to do that too," List added.

Others used the female-focused event to reflect on how women have supported them in the industry. Someone Great writer/director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson said that Stacey Sher, who produced her first television show, "taught me not only how to make a show but she taught me how to be a woman in this industry and she taught me how to have the biggest brass balls you can have." Kaytin Robinson, who is currently working on two projects described as "a reimagined teen story" and "a feminist fairytale," has been blown away by the support for her Gina Rodriguez-fronted film: "Taylor Swift said it was her favorite movie! It's insane. I feel crazy."

Writer Emma Frost praised Lynette Howell Taylor and Bruna Papandrea, for whom she's writing the adaptation of Stepsister, a reimagining of Cinderella from the point of view of the ugly step sister about impossible beauty standards. "It's a subverted fairytale which is a brilliant, fun romp about women accepting who they are. ... That's a real love project for me," Frost said (her "mini slate" of "feminist stories" also includes YA thriller All These Beautiful Strangers). 

Minnie Driver, meanwhile, shouted out DuVernay as a forward thinking filmmaker that "made me weep" with When They See Us, saying, "Ava DuVernay just continues to astonish me. Issa Rae, I like her writing. … It is amazing that they are being celebrated in a way that they deserve. We used to have to fight for the spotlight and it's now being given willingly, which is a nice change."