Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network
English actress Millie Bobby Brown arrives to attend the world premiere of 'Godzilla: King of the Monsters' at TCL Chinese Theatre on May 18, 2019 in Hollywood. (AFP/Valerie Macon)
At 15, Millie Bobby Brown looks more like one of those pinup-ready actresses from romantic comedies than the intense child actress who swept sci-fi aficionados off their feet in the first season of Netflix’s acclaimed sci-fi drama, “Stranger Things,” in 2016.
Things have certainly changed for the teen actress three years after capturing viewers’ imagination in the cult favorite, which begins streaming its third season on July 4.
For one, she has become very recognizable, with a luminous beauty that complements her razor-sharp sensitivity as an emerging actress.
The fact that Millie is also part of a string of hip projects—from Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” and Drake’s “In My Feelings” videos to her blockbuster big-screen debut in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”—only adds to her career-boosting cachet and pop culture appeal.
Most of her answers are delivered with confidence and conviction. But in instances when the questions made her a little awkward, especially when the topic is about boys or kissing, she would turn around and look at her dad, who was also in the room—not to seek help or approval, but as a gesture of winking deference.
For instance, asked if her kissing scene with Mike (played by Finn Wolfhard) was her first kiss ever, Millie’s father playfully quipped, “Yes, it was!”
At some point, when Millie began rambling about Noah, her dad slipped in a word of caution, “Just answer the question.” Ehem.
Millie isn’t really spared from situations that help girls like her ease into adulthood—like schoolwork, for one.
Before we came face-to-face with her in Tokyo to talk about the hotly anticipated Season 3 of “Stranger Things,” schoolwork kept the young actress busy the whole morning right before this interview.
Despite that, Millie sashayed into the room like a ball of positive energy, armed with a bright smile. Later, she talked about how she’s handling the pressures of fame, what she felt about her first kiss (with Finn, who plays Eleven’s boyfriend Mike Wheeler), the strangest thing that happened on the set, and battling a different kind of monster in “Godzilla.”
Our Q&A with Millie Bobby Brown:
As a newly minted Unicef ambassador, how do you use your strong influence on your fans in a positive way? And how do you deal with fame, which came as a result of the show?
Well, you know (acts like a diva), I just looove it (laughs)! Seriously, the word fame isn’t really something I live by. I have one job—and that’s to act. It isn’t to be famous. Fortunately and unfortunately, fame comes with acting—which happens to be my favorite thing in the world.
With fame comes a lot of negative and positive aspects. But one of its good aspects was my becoming a goodwill ambassador for Unicef. It’s a platform I can use to spread an amazing message, because I like empowering the youth.
Now, I can support children’s rights and help young boys and girls fulfill their dreams and get what they deserve—like education, clean water, vaccines, home for their families and a safe place to be. These are things I’m passionate about—and, luckily, Unicef has made all of that possible.
How do you relate to your character, Eleven?
I can relate to her strength, mostly. She’s very powerful, but she’s also very vulnerable.
In interviews, you’ve spoken about Winona Ryder (who plays Will and Jonathan’s mom, Joyce Byers) being an icon. Has she given the show’s young cast advice about acting, or how it is to grow up in Hollywood?
We’ve definitely had some similar experiences. She hasn’t really given us a lot of advice, but the fact that she was also a child actress makes her very relatable to the young members of the cast. She went through the same thing, literally.
What kind of love does the show advocate?
In “Stranger Things,” while there’s a love story that develops between Mike and Eleven, there are a lot of other types of relationships. Love is whatever you want love to be.
After three seasons, how has the work environment evolved?
It’s kind of the same—in Season 3 as it was in Season 1. We all got treated the same way. The kids were listened to, as well as the adults. We weren’t talked down to, and all of our voices were heard on an even playing field.
What about your relationship with the other cast members?
Oh, it’s gotten worse (delivers this dramatically)—they’re so annoying (laughs)!
I get this question every day. All I can say is that I’m so lucky to work with my best friends. To experience all of this with them, not just being in the series, but even when we attend awards shows, is very reassuring. You know you’re not going through this alone. When you’re nervous, you can look at them and say, “Are you feeling what I’m feeling, too?” That’s why we keep each other close.
We don’t talk to each other every day—in fact, sometimes, we don’t even get to talk to each other for months—but when we do talk to each other, it’s like we’re going right back to our old ways again.
Like, I hadn’t seen Noah Schnapp (Will Byers) for five months, then we saw each other the other day. So, it was like, “Hi, hi, hi”—it was crazy (laughs)!
Eleven is in love this season. Does it affect her power in any way?
Hmm. Yes, it does. But I can’t tell you more than that (laughs).
What’s the strangest thing that happened on the set?
Noah got stuck in a chair! I mean, how do you get stuck in a chair? It was so weird to me.
Eleven can see what happens to other people through her superpower. If you had that kind of power in real life, to whom would you use that power on?
I’d like to see what my baby sister is doing right now. She’s constantly doing something different, like playing video games or learning something new at school. And I’d like to check on all my pets—I have turtles, so I’d like to see what they’re doing (laughs).
What was your preparation for your kissing scene with Mike?
It wasn’t really preparation. I mean, we’re actors. There are words on a script that we have to do. Yes, it’s awkward, because we’re just 15 years old, so it’s not like, “Alright, let’s just do it…” We were like, “Ah-huh, OK. What are we going to do now?” We had no idea what to do. It was like real life—nobody really knows what to do. At the end of the day, it was just work.
But there’s another aspect to it. It’s just cool to immortalize your first kiss onscreen, so that I could show it to people. Like, “Hey, this was my first kiss!”
Could you talk about your relationship with David Harbour (who plays Jim Hopper)?
David is one of my favorite people. He’s very talented. I learn something new from him every day, so he deserves every award on the planet. He’s someone I look up to. I am in awe of what he can do as an actor.
This season, Hopper and Eleven’s relationship resembles my relationship with my dad—it’s something that is extremely raw and emotional. Hopper just adopted her last season, so Eleven’s name now is Jane Hopper, which is the cutest thing! Soon, it’ll be Jane Wheeler (laughs).
What did you find most challenging about Season 3?
I lost my voice five times over the eight-month period of filming the latest season. I was in London the other day, and they made me go back to do the ADR (additional dialogue replacement or dubbing) and go over my scenes. I had to start screaming again so they could put that over it. I was screaming so much during the shoot.
How has your character developed from Season 1 to Season 3? Any favorite scenes in the latest season?
Eleven has developed in so many different ways—from her style and who she is as a person, to her voice and vocabulary. As for my favorite, I haven’t seen Season 3 yet. My dad has seen everything. You’ve seen some, right?
OK, since we’re talking about Season 3, how does it end?
Oh my God! If you only knew how it ended (laughs)!
Like “Stranger Things,” your film debut was also about monsters. What was that experience like?
It’s overwhelming to be in a film with such a legacy. “Godzilla” is literally one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. There have been so many movies made of him—over 50, I think—and there are hundreds still in production.
So, just to be part of that legacy was attractive to me. Like “Godzilla,” “Stranger Things” is also an iconic show. I want to be part of things that are always going to be remembered.