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Positronic! Sydney Sweeney set to star in ‘Barbarella’ movie remake

The Euphoria star takes over the 1960s sci-fi role Jane Fonda first made famous more than 50 years ago.

By Benjamin Bullard
Jane Fonda in Barbarella (1968) and Sydney Sweeney

Thanks to Emmy-nominated turns in both The White Lotus and Euphoria for HBO, Sydney Sweeney has become one of the most sought-after actors on the planet these days. But for her newest role, she’s leaving both Earth and the small screen far behind, reportedly joining Sony’s upcoming Barbarella movie to reprise the leading role that Jane Fonda first spun into a sci-fi cult classic more than 50 years ago.

Deadline reports that Sweeney has teamed with Sony Pictures as both an executive producer and the titular star of the updated Barbarella, a film first announced to be receiving the remake treatment back in 2020.

For Sweeney, it’s the second big movie role to be announced just this week. Via Deadline, she’s also set to star in Universal Pictures’ film adaptation of The Caretaker, the short story from Marcus Kliewer (We Used to Live Here) about a woman who bites off more than she bargained for after responding to an innocent job posting on Craigslist. Sweeney will reportedly produce The Caretaker under her Fifty-Fifty Films banner with partner Jonathan Davino. Mega-producer Michael Bay (Transformers, Armageddon) and Brad Fuller (A Quiet Place, The Purge) are also producing via their Platinum Dunes banner, along with Scott Glassgold (The Beyond) through his Ground Control production company.

Little is known about whether, or how, the new Barbarella movie will pick up the earlier movie’s 41st-Century story, so it’s too early to tell if the studio will build on director Roger Vadim’s original 1968 film. The remake reportedly hasn’t yet landed on a writer or director, though Barbarella marks the third movie collaboration between Sweeney and Sony: She’s also set to star opposite Dakota Johnson in Spider-Man spinoff Madame Web, as well as a film adaptation of author Madison Lawson’s dystopian murder novel The Registration.

Featuring Fonda in the title role, the original Barbarella told a gleefully campy story of a female Earthly ambassador sent to the far reaches of space to track down the evil Durand Durand, the scientist responsible for the “Positronic” laser weapon that threatens to destroy the planet. In a way, the movie even pioneered the comics-to-film adaptation pipeline that supplies today’s Hollywood with a steady stream of blockbusters: It was adapted from an early-1960s comic book series by French creator Jean-Claude Forest.

While it didn’t exactly light up the box office with ticket sales, Barbarella persisted in the imaginations of succeeding generations of sci-fi fans. Of course, '80s music new wavers Duran Duran took their band’s name from the movie’s villain (and would later release “Electric Barbarella,” a 1997 hit single whose homage was even more on the nose), while the movie itself became a regular sight on the late-night TV dial as a staple of syndicated science fiction movie favorites.

There’s no early word on when Sweeney and Sony will beam Barbarella back into theaters. Sweeney’s next date with sci-fi will arrive in February of 2024, when Madame Web is due to expand on Sony’s growing Spider-Man movie-verse.

Looking for some sci-fi adventure? Check out Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, Warehouse 13, Eureka, SYFY's Resident Alien, Sliders, Intergalactic and more on Peacock now.