“This season, Eleven deals with some of the realest monsters out there, like bullying and self identity,” explains “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown. Season 4 of the smash hit Netflix series tosses Eleven into a California high school with no superpowers to help her navigate the complicated teenage experience. This provides an emotional, grounded playing space for the actress, which serves as a great contrast to the more action heavy sequences that the supernatural series is famous for. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Brown believes that Season 4 is all about showcasing the “inner growth” of Eleven, and perhaps no scene better exemplifies that than her explosive moment with Mike (Finn Wolfhard) in California. Mike has been unable to say the words “I love you,” and Eleven tearfully takes him to task for not being an involved partner. “This is maybe the most honest Eleven has been in the whole show,” suggests Brown, “She really is explaining her true emotions and she’s trying to have this boy understand her.” After navigating her crippling fear of abandonment, the actress points to this scene as a moment where the teen decides that “she needs to stand on her own two feet.”
Part of her journey this season leads her to some brutal flashbacks in the Hawkins lab. A younger actress, Martie Blair, portrayed a younger Eleven in some of these scenes. Since these moments took place in a “high intensity” time period for the character, Brown was sure to guide Blair through the process to create a cohesive portrait that would ring true to viewers. She would later head to Los Angeles to film all of those scenes inside a “LOLA Machine,” which captured her facial expressions so that visual effects artists could stitch them onto Blair’s physical performance. “It took a minute,” notes Brown of the difficulty of performing solo in a dark room, “because you have to throw in the energy you had months before.”
SEE Shawn Levy interview: ‘Stranger Things’ director and executive producer
The glimpse of a younger version of the character, plus the three year gap between the release of seasons 3 and 4, highlights just how much the teenage actors have grown up. Brown was 10 when she began work on the first season and is now 18. “I think shockingly, as a young person growing up in the 21st century, lots of things change within the space of a year,” reflecting on the passage of time, and what it was like to return to the series after the pandemic. “One second I’m in 10th grade doing trigonometry, then I’m fighting Vecna, then there’s Covid, and the next thing you know I’m in Beijing promoting a film,” describes the actress of the whirlwind that one year can contain. But she asserts that she feels like a different person from when she started, and even from Season 3. ”Filming the show at the time we did couldn’t have been more perfect for me.”
Brown is a two-time Emmy nominee for her work in “Stranger Things.” The series also netted her and the cast the SAG Award as part of the best TV drama ensemble.
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