Sydney Sweeney and Tina Satter on Telling the Story of ‘Reality’

Written, directed, and executive produced by Tina Satter and based on her 2019 play, HBO Films’ Reality stars Sydney Sweeney and debuted to rave reviews at the 2023 Berlin International Film Festival. The movie is currently available to stream on Max.

On June 3, 2017, 25-year-old former American intelligence specialist Reality Winner is confronted by FBI agents arriving at her home to question her suspected role in the mishandling of classified information. Based on true events, the film’s dialogue is directly from the transcript of their tense and transfixing conversation.


“I think there were multiple different reasons, one that it was taken from the actual transcript,” the actress explained when I asked why she wanted to take on this role. “I’ve never read anything like that before and that was a challenge that presented itself to me that I knew I was going to be scared by, and I really wanted to embrace that. And then also, just how complex Reality is as a character and how many different layers and contradictions that she has, so being able to dive in as an actor to all of those layers, it definitely drew me in.”

“I mean, literally, I was like, ‘I can’t even believe this. This is my kind of protagonist.’ This smart, weird, totally all over the map, young female, like literally, it’s so exciting to me, you know what I mean? Really smart, really funny, has all these details that are so contradictory. She does this act that like even I didn’t know how to think of it. That all felt really rich and scary to dive into,” Satter expressed while talking about why this was the right story for her first feature. “Then since it did actually have these real world ramifications, the stakes of that were, to me, also then very exciting for the content and for storytelling that went, you know, I hope that it’s entertaining and stuff to watch, but also, I don’t have answers for any of it, but I like that it steps into a conversation that is also bigger than just the art.”


We discussed their approach to telling this true story with respect, why the project challenged them, which scenes they were most interested in seeing come to life, and much more.

Watch my interview here: