What’s fact, fiction in Sydney Sweeney’s shocking HBO movie

Spoiler alert! The following story contains details about HBO’s “Reality,” a new film about whistleblower Reality Winner.

Sydney Sweeney is always up for a challenge.

“Honestly, if a character wasn’t difficult for me, I wouldn’t do it,” says the actress, 25, a two-time Emmy nominee for HBO’s “Euphoria” and “The White Lotus.”

“Reality” is no exception. In HBO’s nail-biting new thriller (now streaming on Max), Sweeney plays former Air Force linguist and National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner, who was arrested in 2017 on suspicion of leaking a confidential document to nonprofit news site The Intercept. She was found guilty and sentenced to more than five years in prison for the data breach, which helped expose Russian interference in the election of former President Donald Trump.

The real Reality Winner, left, and Sydney Sweeney, who plays her in HBO's "Reality."

The movie is adapted from Tina Satter’s 2021 Broadway play, “Is This a Room,” which is scripted verbatim from the FBI transcript of Winner’s interrogation and arrest. The 82-minute film is set entirely at Winner’s house, with tense moments that are frequently stranger than fiction.

“I was reading the dialogue like, ‘You can’t even write stuff like this!’ “ Sweeney says. “I was very intrigued by it (but also) scared, because I knew I wanted to be able to honor Reality’s voice as much as possible.”

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