‘Reality’ Teaser: Sydney Sweeney Is an NSA Operative with a Secret

Playwright Tina Satter's directorial debut, based on her acclaimed Off-Broadway production "Is This a Room," features dialogue directly from FBI transcripts.
Sydney Sweeney in "Reality"
Sydney Sweeney in "Reality"

Sydney Sweeney is being stalked by the FBI.

The “Euphoria” Emmy nominee leads HBO film “Reality,” based on writer-director Tina Satter’s 2019 play “Is This A Room.”

On June 3, 2017, 25-year-old former American intelligence specialist Reality Winner (Sweeney) is confronted by FBI agents, played by Josh Hamilton and Marchánt Davis, arriving at her home to question her suspected role in the mishandling of classified information. Reality Winner is an ex-Air Force member and NSA translator who later received the harshest sentence, five years and three months in prison, for the unauthorized release of government information to the media leading to FBI director James Comey being fired for the investigation into how Russian interference affected the 2016 election.

Based on true events, the film’s dialogue, as with the acclaimed Off-Broadway play, comes directly from the transcript of their tense and transfixing conversation.

“Reality” debuted at the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival, marking Satter’s directorial debut from a script she penned along with James Paul Dallas.

“‘Reality’ is gripping and deceptively layered, delineating both the FBI’s queasily ingenious interrogation tactics and Sweeney’s extraordinary range,” IndieWire’s review reads. “As evidenced in ‘Reality’ and elsewhere, the actress is just so good at acting like she’s on the verge of a freakout — she’s never, ever been happier, thank you very much — and here her subtly reddening cheeks, caving into ragged panic, only grows more and more compelling as Satter swoops her magnifying class of a camera into boxier and boxier close-ups.”

Sweeney is next set to lead Marvel’s “Madame Web,” a yet-untitled rom-com opposite Glen Powell, thriller “Echo Valley” alongside Julianne Moore, and religious horror film “Immaculate.” Sweeney additionally was announced to star in and executive produce a “Barbarella” remake based on the Jane Fonda 1968 film directed by Roger Vadim.

“Reality” is produced by Noah Stahl, Brad Becker-Parton, Riva Marker, and Greg Nobile, with executive producers including Ellyn Daniels, Will O’Connor, Daniel Ginsberg, Andrew Beck, Bill Way, Elliott Whitton, Eva Maria Daniells, Philipp Engelhorn, Caitlin Gold, and writer-director Satter.

“Reality” premieres May 29 on HBO at 10 p.m. PT/ET and will be available to stream on Max.

Check out the teaser below.

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