Sydney Sweeney’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Performance Kicked Off Her Impressive Career

The Big Picture

  • Sydney Sweeney’s role as Eden in The Handmaid’s Tale showcased her talent and dedication to her craft.
  • Eden’s character stood out for fans of the series, with viewers guessing her intentions and wondering if she would split up Nick and June.
  • Sweeney’s performance in The Handmaid’s Tale impacted her school experience, as she had to juggle filming and her education and faced obstacles from her professors and fellow students.


Sydney Sweeney skyrocketed in popularity after playing fan-favorite Cassie on Euphoria alongside Zendaya, Jacob Elordi, Hunter Schafer, and Maude Apatow. The HBO crime drama Reality, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival, showed a different, grittier side to the star. More recently, her name has been in the headlines for buzzy releases like the rom-com Anyone But You with Glen Powell and the upcoming Sony Marvel project Madame Web with Dakota Johnson. Sweeney’s dedication to fully immersing herself in her roles was made apparent back in 2018 when she appeared in Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale. Even though this seven-episode arc took place at the very beginning of her career, her performance indicated to movie and TV fans that we haven’t seen the last of her, and the best is yet to come.


Who Was Sydney Sweeney’s Eden Blaine in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’?

At the time of The Handmaid’s Tale Season 2, many were still unfamiliar with Sweeney’s talent despite her working on multiple projects at the time. Sharp Objects and Under the Silver Lake were both released that year, as well as the off-beat teen comedy Everything Sucks. That being said, this season may be worth the re-watch just to appreciate how far Sweeney has come since her early years in recurring guest roles. Sweeney plays Eden, a young bride forced to marry Nick (Max Minghella) as a part of the Waterford family’s strategic mind games.

But this character, as an individual, stood out for fans of the series. She had viewers guessing her intentions and if she would split up Nick and June (Elisabeth Moss) for good. Sweeney had a lot on the line personally and professionally when this audition crossed her desk. She did a lot of studying to be able to understand the tone of her character, as it was her job to convey the stark contrast between someone raised with these beliefs as opposed to June and Nick, whose obedience is a facade. Her isolation in this regard makes her role as a character actress that much more challenging. It’s as though every other character in the story is reading from a different script than she is.

They are all privy to knowledge and wisdom behind Gilead’s false decorum that she will never understand, and the poor young wife is often left behind or led astray by those around her. She is confused by what she is taught to expect from marriage versus what she’s getting from Nick, which is practically nothing. As a result, she is riddled with anxiety. She is worried God will be disappointed if they wait any longer to consummate their marriage, that her husband thinks she’s ugly, or that he may be a “gender traitor,” More than anything, it appears that she’s scared of the act of sex itself because it remains such a taboo topic, even as she readies herself for becoming a newlywed. Yet another gaping pitfall of being a young lady raised in Gilead and bred for marriage.

Sydney Sweeney’s ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Character Goes From Modest to Daring

Struggling to keep her head above water while living with her new husband at the Waterford house, she turns to the worst possible people for relationship advice: June and Serena (Yvonne Strahovski). Through Eden’s susceptibility and naivety, we see just how hopeless this next generation is, even if the war to reclaim the country as America is somehow won one day. The damage has been done. Just as June is the symbol of resistance, Eden is her opposite. She embodies an incoming wave of women that have been taught to accept and perpetuate oppression and submission. Or maybe, the spirit of rebellion lives in everyone regardless of their upbringing. Finally, Eden has had enough of being ignored by her husband. Her idea of devoted love has been shattered by Nick’s constant distraction as he only has eyes for June.

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Sydney Sweeney’s Performance In ‘Reality’ Is More Than Your Average De-Glam

The rising star from ‘Euphoria’ proves herself as a precise, skillful actress.

In the many episodes we’ve come to know Eden in The Handmaid’s Tale, she has tried and tried to establish some sort of closeness with her husband and is brushed aside, which eventually transforms into disdain. Over time, she becomes smitten with another member of the Waterford house staff: the security guard. She is a woman of faith but she’s still just a fifteen-year-old girl who wants to follow her desires. She is taken off guard by how she’s been treated and for the love of God just wants her first kiss already. Her loneliness is painful to watch the harder she tries to win Nick’s love.

When she is caught kissing the guard and is met with Nick’s indifference, she runs away with her new love, transforming from a pious child bride to an outlaw. Eden meets a tragic fate when she’s caught, once again perplexed by what it is exactly that her God and her country want from her and why she’s being punished. She just wanted to start a family with a man that loves her, but all Gilead wants is to make an example of her for her disobedience.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Impacted Sydney Sweeney’s School Experience

The-Handmaid's-Tale-Ann-Dowd
Image via Hulu

Eden was told by her society that she was only good for one thing: devout, demure domestication. God wants her to be a faithful wife and mother, forever a servant to those that rank above her. Throughout the seasons of The Handmaid’s Tale, we’ve seen extreme allegories for problems that women face in their day-to-day lives. These obstacles may not present themselves as obviously as they do in this dystopian drama, but the series still strikes a chord with those who have been put into a box, or prevented from pursuing fulfillment or authenticity within themselves because their surroundings have told them “no.”

Sweeney’s studious nature doesn’t stop with preparing for roles. At the time that Season 2 was being filmed, she was also working to obtain her business degree. Her goal to continue her education was very important to her, especially being in the entertainment industry, hoping that a business-savvy background would help her understand and negotiate her own contracts. While the season was being filmed in Toronto, she was taking her classes remotely, and doing quite well. Her absence, however, didn’t sit right with the other students who were regularly attending the classes in person.

Sweeney tells Drew Barrymore on her talk show that “everyone over at Hulu was so kind, and they let me go back for my finals,” but once she arrived for her Entertainment Law exam, her professor told her that she wouldn’t be given the chance to take the test and she never got the credit for completing the course. “I struggled really hard with that one,” she says, “I was valedictorian in high school, I love school, like a lot.” She indicates that this decision was likely because her professors and fellow students didn’t understand how she could have been balancing both, despite her continued success and making the Dean’s List in prior semesters. It’s very interesting that her role in The Handmaid’s Tale ended up being a huge staple in her filmography, but it came at such a high cost, and what a shame it is that this young, ambitious woman was halted in her path to higher education. Sydney Sweeney’s excellent work in The Handmaid’s Tale was just the beginning of a brilliant career for the star.

The Handmaid’s Tale is available to stream on Hulu in the U.S.

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