“I hope you like cookies and ice cream,” Sydney Sweeney says as we cozy into a red leather booth at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in Burbank, the studio-filled neighbourhood just north of Los Angeles. A chain restaurant is an unlikely locale to find one of Hollywood’s brightest stars—but the 26-year-old actor selected this spot for us because of one specific dessert item. (The three people who come up to us and breathlessly ask, “Are you Sydney Sweeney?” can’t believe she’s there either.)
“I started coming here with my family when I was really young,” Sweeney recalls. “I am a huge cookie and ice cream fan, and they make this thing called a Pizookie that I love.”
After we order two chocolate chip Pizookies topped with vanilla ice cream, Sweeney touches on her childhood in northwestern Idaho, calling herself a “tomboy” who wasn’t tapped into the beauty world. “The women in my family didn’t really wear makeup,” she says. “I grew up putting sunscreen on your face and body, but that was about it. It wasn’t until I came to LA that I learned about skincare and makeup.”
If she’s wearing makeup today, I wouldn’t know it. We’re here today to celebrate Sweeney’s new role—a promotion, actually. Prior to our meeting, Sweeney spent the day on set with skin care brand Laneige, being slathered with her favorite products like the Water Bank Moisturiser, Lip Sleeping Mask, and Hyaluronic Eye Cream. She’s been the US ambassador for the Korean brand since 2022, and as of today, she’s taking on global duties. The elevation comes at an exciting time for the actor, who has the rom-com Anyone But You in theaters and Marvel’s Madame Web due out next month; Sweeney is the first Laneige face to represent the brand across all its markets worldwide, a reflection of her growing star power. She says she loves that Laneige embraces her exactly as she is, au naturel. “It’s the most clean-face version of me,” she says of the beauty brief for today’s shoot.
As we talk, our pizza-cookie mash-ups arrive warm from the oven. Following a cheers-ing of the skillets the desserts are served on, it’s time for a taste test. Sweeney awaits my feedback, and I feel like Padma Lakshmi, reviewing a contestant’s experimental dish on Top Chef. But of course, cookies and ice cream, it’s delicious. Phew.
Now years into her acting career, Sweeney feels “empowered through my femininity.” But that doesn’t mean the tomboy of her youth has disappeared—see the candy apple red 1969 Bronco she recently restored by hand. “It’s fun to be both. That’s what’s so cool about just being human—we can be anything that we want to be.”
But who she wants to be is actually just Syd—the name her close friends and family call her.
“There are different versions of me when it comes to red carpet and on the set,” she shares about a dilemma that seems especially top of mind given all of the press for Anyone But You. “When I’m on set [for a role], I feel at home, comfortable, and confident. I’m also this other character, and it is the one making these choices and getting judged and saying all these things. But when it comes to a red carpet, I get nervous because everybody is like, ‘Here’s Sydney Sweeney!’ But in reality, Sydney Sweeney is a girl who is usually wearing no makeup, jeans and a T-shirt, and running around barefoot outside.”
That’s when I realised I was meeting the real Syd Sweeney. She’s sitting in BJ’s with glowing skin (that’s the Laneige, of course), in a cream sweater, eating a Pizookie she’s loved since her tomboy days.
“I hope you liked your Pizookie,” Sweeney says after our empty dishes are cleared, and I wonder if maybe she’s actually asking about more than just the dessert. And either way, I truly did.
This story was originally published on Vogue.com.