Sydney Sweeney, Glen Powell and the commodification of romance

Curating enough off-screen chemistry between co-stars to ensure a romantic comedy hit is a careful PR dance. A recipe that requires just the right amount of believability, a dash of ‘no, they wouldn’t’, and a pinch of drama. The latest pair to follow in the footsteps of Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain’s promotion tour sashay – who were caught up in affair rumours when a very sensual arm-kiss happened on the Venice Film Festival red carpet during their promotion of their show Scenes From a Marriage – are Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney and Top Gun’s Glen Powell.

Glen, 34, and Sydney, 25, found themselves in a social media firestorm after fans noticed their off-screen connection was starting to look less like acting, and more like the real-deal.

Romance in Hollywood is commodified, it sells and they (the big wig powers at be) know it. We know it. And yet, as a public audience, it’s lapped up – in column inches like this, on social media comment sections, on Reddit threads, via the box office numbers. Add a little bit of cast drama, star-crossed lovers, and you can turn a rather mediocre film into a raging succession (see, Don’t Worry Darling).

It matters very little if the relationships are real. So, sure! Let’s give celebrities the benefit of the doubt that they are making authentic connections that just so happen to really benefit the press around their multi-million dollar movies, and rile up lots of attention! Hey, get two insanely good-looking people in a room for weeks on end and make ‘chemistry’ their job, it’s not beyond probability that they’ll end up getting feelings.

Sydney and Glen’s dalliance has created such a buzz because it hits all the major scandal points: They are both in other relationships. They are up-and-coming and *very* hot in an upholding-all-the-traditional-western-beauty-standards-way. Their film is a rom com, and therefore relies on us as an audience believing their compatibility.

They have recently completed filming their upcoming Netflix romcom ‘Anyone But You’ in Australia, directed by Will Gluck; who’s known for early 2010s films such as ‘Easy A’ with Emma Stone and Penn Badgley and ‘Friends With Benefits’ with Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. The film’s synopsis tells us that it’s a modernisation of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, detailing “When college arch-nemeses reunite years after graduation for a destination wedding, they pretend to be a couple for their own personal reasons. But through pretending, they actually fall in love.”

Behind-the-scenes images of them between takes set rumours going. And, they hardly put those rumours to rest, with a video on-set of them doing a sexy Dirty Dancing-style move going viral shortly afterwards (it currently has over 35 million views on Twitter). Since then, every red carpet or press junket interview of the pair has been picked apart by fans, analysing their body language to FBI-standards.

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