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Sydney Chandler has just returned home, having completed the press tour for “Pistol,” her first major promotional cycle, and she’s taking a breather from it all, allowing it to sink in.
“Oh my gosh, it was a whirlwind,” she says over the phone. “It was wild. It was so fun. Being able to see the first two episodes on a big screen as well, and with an audience, that was really special. I didn’t realize how much it would change watching it almost edited, almost there on your computer.”
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Chandler is the 26-year-old daughter of actor Kyle Chandler, yet instead of growing up in the scene of Hollywood parties, the Chandler family lives outside of Austin, Texas, which means Chandler’s acting breakout moment is really her first brush with all of this. She’s as earnest, genuine and excited about the start of her career as anyone.
Chandler plays Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders in the new FX series “Pistol,” which is directed by Danny Boyle and tells the story of the rise of the Sex Pistols. Later this fall, she’ll be seen in Olivia Wilde’s much-anticipated “Don’t Worry Darling” as one of the ’50s housewives in Florence Pugh’s circle. All of this success is very much still settling in for Chandler.
“I’m still pinching myself that I actually got this role and that it’s out now,” she says of “Pistol.” “I got an audition tape sent in and it just said ‘untitled Danny Boyle.’ And he is one of my favorite directors of all time, and now one of my favorites to work with. So I saw that and I just had to jump in. And the first scenes that we got were actually, they’re called dummy scenes, so it’s scenes that aren’t actually from the show.”
After the scenes she got a call that Boyle wanted to Zoom, and it was only once she logged on that she learned the character she was auditioning for was Chrissie Hynde. At the time Chandler was in the middle of shooting “Don’t Worry Darling,” already a pinch-me moment, and she was shocked by the news of Boyle casting her.
“I was like, ‘are you sure you’re calling the right Sydney? I’m not sure about that,’” she says.
Meeting Hynde was of immense help in preparing for the role, and Chandler took a liking to her immediately.
“She was so, so helpful, and generous, and open, and just a really, really cool woman, really inspired,” she says.
Like most kids, Chandler found the idea of following in her parents’ footsteps off-putting.
“My dad’s an actor, and so you never want to do what your parents are doing,” she says of the “Friday Night Lights” star. “So I stayed very far away from that. And then I wanted to be a vet, and then I think it was my last year of high school when I was failing my math and my science, I was like, ‘maybe not.’ And then I went into creative writing, and I ended up taking an acting class in Austin here in town when I was studying for my writing. And I wanted to just do a character study on writers, on actors, and see people trying to act, that would be an interesting person to evaluate. And then I ended up just absolutely falling in love with it. My acting coach said, ‘you can stay in the class if you start auditioning,’ and it all just kind of went from there.”
Her father’s advice on going into the field was “don’t do it,” she jokes. “But no, he’s been extremely supportive and we actually, we’ve had some really good talks about, you know. I want to make my own way through this, my own path through this, with my work. And he’s been really, really just supportive. He’s my dad. He’s there for me.”
While much of “Don’t Worry Darling” is shrouded in secrecy, Chandler promises it will be worth the wait once it’s out this fall.
“It is just magical. I’m so excited for people to see it. Florence [Pugh] and Harry [Styles] and Olivia [Wilde] and Chris [Pine] and Gemma [Chan], all of them just shine. I learned so much from them just being able to be on set with them, so it’s going to be a big one I think,” she says. “I’m really excited for the world to see it.”
The project is her first major feature film, and coincidentally her character, Violet, is also new to the scene.
“You kind of are able to enter this world that Olivia [Wilde] has created through Violet’s eyes, and her husband. It kind of just works out so nicely because the whole cliché of ‘life imitates art,’ but it was my first movie set ever, and you’re working with these huge names, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how any of this works, here we go.’ So me, myself as Sydney was very new to this world, and so I felt my character very, very quickly, just kind of stepping in and soaking up the vibe on set and seeing how all of it works. And so that kind of translated really perfectly for my character.”
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