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Sydney Sweeney Strives For Musical Perfection in Nocturne: “I Was Dancing With the Piano”

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Sydney Sweeney isn’t afraid of a challenge, and that’s exactly what drew her to Blumhouse’s Nocturne in the first place. While many recognize Sweeney as the popular Cassie from Euphoria, Nocturne — which premiered on Oct. 13 on Amazon Prime Video — sees her as Juliet Lowe, a girl stuck in the shadow of her more musically talented twin sister, Vivian. When Juliet discovers the mysterious notebook of a dead classmate, her talent soon eclipses her sister’s, and she earns a place in the senior concerto — although it comes with a sinister price.

Tensions run high between Sweeney’s Juliet and Madison Iseman’s Vivian as their sibling rivalry comes to a head. Their onscreen chemistry makes it feel as if they’ve known each other forever, and that’s because they practically have. In an interview with POPSUGAR, Sweeney revealed the reason their onscreen relationship has such a realistic feel. “Madison and I actually went to high school together, so we were friends growing up. We always kind of went up against each other in everything,” she said. “We were so excited to finally do something together and play sisters. Because we are friends, it was easier for us to play around with emotions towards each other.”

“Even though I wasn’t playing the actual notes . . . it kind of felt like I was dancing with the piano.”

On the other hand, pulling off Juliet’s musicality was no easy task. Despite taking piano lessons when she was younger, Sweeney worked diligently with a piano instructor two weeks before filming in order to fully embody the highly talented Juliet. “Even though I wasn’t playing the actual notes, they would play the tracks back to me. Then, I would have to learn where those notes were, the timing, and the movement of my body,” she explained. “I memorized it all, so it kind of felt like I was dancing with the piano. I ended up actually buying a keyboard and hope that maybe one day I’ll be able to actually play.”

“I think that I kind of just drew from Juliet’s own mind. I try to keep whatever character or project I’m doing separate from other projects.”

Part of Nocturne‘s uneasiness comes from its boarding-school setting. Juliet’s social isolation and her never-ending search for perfection evoke images of Suspiria. While Sweeney has always been a horror fan, rather than drawing inspiration from other films, she delved deep into the character’s psyche. “I think that I kind of just drew from Juliet’s own mind. I try to keep whatever character or project I’m doing separate from other projects,” she said. “I’ve always been a huge horror and scary-movie fan, but I never go in basing my characters on something.”

One of the biggest questions we’re left with at the end of Nocturne is whether or not there’s actually something supernatural at work or if everything’s just in Juliet’s mind. “I played it supernaturally because that’s what Juliet believed in,” Sweeney said. “Whether the audience thinks it’s supernatural or thinks it’s a metaphor for life, it’s up to them what they can take away.” As for the ambiguous ending, whether or not Juliet really sacrifices herself and ends up dead on a sculpture, Sweeney went with something a little more realistic. “Personally, I see it as a metaphor of how she gave up all of herself to be able to perform this piano solo that she’s been working so hard for.”

“Personally, I see it as a metaphor of how she gave up all of herself to be able to perform this piano solo that she’s been working so hard for.”

It seems 2020 has been Blumhouse’s year when it comes to horror films, particularly with The Invisible Man, The Lie, and, most recently, Nocturne. Whether Nocturne will earn Blumhouse icon status from fans, like Get Out, is still to be seen. “Get Out makes you think,” Sweeney said about her personal Blumhouse favorite. “I had to watch that maybe five to 10 times to completely and truly figure it all out.” What is certain is that Nocturne will get you thinking. How many times it takes for you to figure it all out, though, is up to you.

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