‘The White Lotus’: Sydney Sweeney on the Advice Mike White Gave Her to Find Confidence Within Olivia

When Mike White was looking for actors to portray Olivia Mossbacher in The White Lotus Season 1, Sydney Sweeney stood out. Though White had seen a few episodes of Euphoria, the show that made Sweeney a household name, he didn’t recognize her in her audition. Instead, he was taken with the unique way she approached the character. While other actors vying for the role were hamming up the comedy, Sweeney played Olivia in a deadpan, unaffected, way.

Mike White, Sydney Sweeney and Alexandra Daddario at The White Lotus premiere
‘The White Lotus’ creator and actors Mike White, Sydney Sweeney, and Alexandra Daddario | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

‘The White Lotus’ was Sydney Sweeney’s first venture into comedy

Ultimately, Sweeney would impress White enough to earn her place in The White Lotus cast. Her portrayal of the privileged college sophomore would also go on to earn her an Emmy nomination. Because the actor-producer got such praise for the role, it’s hard to believe that playing Olivia was her very first foray into comedy. However, it turns out that Sweeney was pretty nervous about venturing into a new genre, both in the audition process and during the performance.

The actor admits to being very nervous while auditioning for the role of Olivia Mossbacher

In a conversation with Deadline, Sweeney reflected on her audition for The White Lotus. She admitted that while she was afraid of the role, that fear propelled her to really want to book it. “I was so nervous and I was so scared because I’ve never done comedy quite like that,” Sweeney explained. “When I realized that I was nervous going into the audition process, I really wanted it, because I knew it was going to be a challenge. And if something challenges me, then I’m going to go for it, full force.”

Mike White gave Sweeney helpful advice during filming

Going for Olivia full force definitely panned out for Sweeney. Still, her fears weren’t completely allayed when she arrived on set. Fortunately, White gave her some advice that would help take some of the pressure off. The advice may seem a bit counterintuitive given the genre of the show, but it worked for Sweeney. “Mike White was like, ‘Don’t even try to be funny.’ I’m like, ‘OK,'” Sweeney recalled. “So, [he] truly helped me find the confidence within my character.”

How other members of ‘The White Lotus’ cast helped Sweeney embody her character

Another thing that helped Sweeney find her stride in the comedic world of The White Lotus was her castmates. She watched her fellow actors closely and saw how they were able to embody their characters completley. This helped The Handmaid’s Tale alum to be able to do the same thing with Olivia.

The White Lotus actors Sydney Sweeney and Fred Hechlinger
‘The White Lotus’ actors Sydney Sweeney and Fred Hechinger

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“I had a lot of amazing co-stars,” Sweeney explained. “Being able to work with Connie Britton, Steve Zahn, Jennifer Coolidge — when I was working opposite them, they helped me have that confidence through my character because they allowed themselves to fully become the characters that Mike White created.” It certainly appears that Sweeney was able to find her funny bone in The White Lotus. As the actor has expressed interest in doing more comedic roles, it’ll be interesting to see what new projects she has coming down the pipeline.