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MTV’s Sweet/Vicious is a show built around the strength of its two leading ladies, Jules and Ophelia. Both physically and mentally, they tackle enormous odds and through it all, support each other and act as a guardian for those unable to fight back.
Eliza Bennett is the talented English actress bringing Jules Thomas to life — and OMFGTV had the chance to talk with her about what drew her to the show, her relationship with her co-star Taylor Dearden, and some of her favorite memories from set.
Bennett was drawn immediately to series creator Jennifer Kaytin Robinson’s pilot script from the moment she read it. “When I read these two characters — Jules and Ophelia — I immediately knew they were written by a woman because they were so layered and so complex,” Bennett tells us.
“[They were] such a mixture of being these badass fighter ladies and then also being incredibly broken and struggling with very real things. And so I was like, ‘I want to know who this person is that wrote this script.’”
Bennett was also intrigued by the uniqueness of the show and the way it covered so many genres. “It is definitely a mashup of many things and I thought that was interesting and I don’t think shows necessarily do have to be one thing because I don’t think life is one genre.”
The importance of the show’s subject matter and the absence of shows on air right now that really address sexual assault in this way meant Bennett wanted to do plenty of research to make sure she was doing Jules and her story due justice. Bennett found in her research and in talking to people in her life that most women have been or known someone who has been a victim of sexual assault.
“I think it’s something that women deal with on a day-to-day basis and I’m not sure that men necessarily know that,” Bennett says. She cites the documentary “The Hunting Ground” and the book “Missoula” by John Krackhow as helpful in figuring out Jules’ mental state.
During her research, she says the most important thing she found was in speaking with real-life survivors. “I speak to survivors incredibly regularly now just because I had people that I was friends with for years that, until I did the show, I had never known their experience.
“I would have never known if I hadn’t have done the show, so I’m very aware that every woman that you’re sitting next to on a train or on a bus or your friend or someone in your family — this could have happened to them and they just haven’t told you.”
Another big part of Jules’ character is her vigilante alter-ego. Bennett was excited to take on more physical training and stunts. “I’ve played a lot of damsels in distress so the stuff I’ve always had to do with stunt teams was how to fall over without actually hurting yourself, so it was really refreshing doing Sweet/Vicious.”
She credits dancing when she was younger as helping a little bit, “but Taylor (Dearden) and I both overestimated our abilities going into it. I was very quickly humbled by the stunt team.”
Speaking of Dearden, the bond between Jules and Ophelia on screen extends beyond that to even when the cameras aren’t rolling. “[Their friendship] was probably the easiest part of the entire show!” Bennett exclaims. “Taylor and I both say it was probably the thing that took the least amount of effort.”
Meeting for the first time at their screen test, they bonded within an hour, and Bennett says that when it ended, “we hugged for a really long time and neither of us had been cast. [I said to Taylor], ‘If it’s me [who gets Jules], then I really hope that it’s you [who gets Ophelia].’ Then five minutes later we both got cast and it was amazing to think that I was going to be [working] with this incredible woman.”
On and off set the pair rarely spent any time apart and their chemistry was effortless. “That was literally the chemistry that Jules and Ophelia have. We did no rehearsal; we did no sort of practice for that at all. It’s pretty reflective of Taylor and I.”
The set of the MTV dramedy sounds loads of fun, according to Bennett. One moment she describes to us, laughing the entire time, was a table read in which Brandon Mychal Smith, who plays Harris, struggled with pronouncing Harris’ nickname for Ophelia.
“I think [Harris] calls her ‘Opheefs’ the first time in like episode two or three — and at the table read, we’d all read it, thinking, that’s ‘Opheefs,’ and Brandon came out saying ‘Oifs.’ Everyone on the table read burst out laughing and he couldn’t work out why. He physically couldn’t say ‘Opheefs’ for about four takes. He would say ‘Oifs’ every single time.”
The laughing isn’t just limited to the table reads, however. When cameras are rolling on set, a lot of times the series’ two leads find it hard to get through a scene. Hopefully, fans will get to see a blooper reel once the season concludes, as Bennett says, “I can’t wait for people to see that because I feel like it’s mainly just Taylor and I just messing up every other take.”
Because she has been in England for most of the show’s airing, Bennett hasn’t been able to participate in live tweets but loves reading all the responses to the show the next day. “I wake up to like 10,000 tweets about Sweet/Vicious,” she says. “I feel very loved in the morning.”
There will be one more chance to live tweet with the cast for the two-hour season finale, and Eliza is excited to hopefully be able to be a part of.
The 2-hour Sweet/Vicious season finale airs Tuesday at 10/9c on MTV.