With Netflix all set to return with the fourth season of their popular series ‘Stranger Things’ this summer, the buzz surrounding the upcoming show is at an all-time high with ST fans flooding the internet with several fan theories. And the one who has been trending the most has been Eleven, a character essayed by actress Millie Bobby Brown in ‘Stranger Things’.
Given the trends and buzz the upcoming Netflix show has already garnered online, Mashable India got in touch with Millie Bobby Brown, who shared her excitement about reprising the role of Eleven, how the fourth season expands the story outside the Hawkins crew, the much-talked-about scope and scale of the upcoming season, Stranger Things fandom and more.
Excerpt from the exclusive interview:
How did it feel to return to this story and character after such a long break?
Well, we came back in early 2020 but, due to COVID, we had to shut down production. I had a solid eight months off. It felt really nice to get back to work. I’d been inside and not really doing much. It was nice to be able to get back to work and get back to a schedule, and to reconnect with Eleven again.
Can you give us a refresh on where Season Three left us, and where Season Four picks up?
We left off at Hopper suspiciously disappearing into thin air. We also left off with Billy sacrificing himself to the Mind Flayer, and Eleven losing her powers. And then, ultimately, the Byers boys and Eleven left Hawkins to go somewhere else. There’s a lot left unexplained, and we definitely get into that in Season Four.
During the first table read, when you heard the vision for this new season — how big it is, how the story expands outside of Hawkins — how did that feel?
The creative team’s vision always gets more elaborate and brilliant, and they had a lot more time to work on the season during quarantine. They really dug into each of our storylines and our characters, and made them incredibly detailed and personalized to us. The Duffers got to write the whole season before we got to shoot. Usually when we film, we get the last episodes about six months in, so you’re a bit blind throughout the season. But this season, we really got to know where our characters were going, which was really nice. We got to see the arc of the character, so we knew where we all started and ended.
Where does Eleven start off this season?
Eleven starts off in Lenora Hills, California. She’s very much dealing with the loss of Hopper — or so she thinks — and she’s also dealing with regular life and being at school, where she’s being bullied and has to try and understand how to be a normal person. She grew up in a laboratory — she grew up very sheltered and was told what to do. This season is about showing her freedom, and about her understanding of her own growth, and not just having other people tell her how to do things. So we start off in Lenora — with Will and Jonathan, and Jonathan’s new friend Argyle — and then Mike comes to town for a visit. That’s when the ball really gets rolling.
How has losing her powers forced her to try and figure out who she is?
I feel like Eleven’s superpowers always overshadowed her as a person. I really appreciate the Duffers taking this away, her most valued quality, on which she is so dependent. Where does taking her superpowers away lead her? Who is she, really? This season really dives into her emotional well being, instead of her simply being a sort of extraterrestrial. We get to find out who she is deep down as a person.
Can you talk a bit about what we can expect from Eleven’s costuming this season as a high schooler?
I trust our creative team. Six years later, I feel quite dependent on their creative influence on Eleven. As much as I love and know her very well, I also love hearing what other people have to say. Amy Parris, our costume designer on the show, put a mood board together for me. I thought it was pretty spot on. Eleven has no fashion sense whatsoever, which is quite brilliant and true to who she is as a person. She’s probably going to mismatch a few socks, and there’s no color coordination, but that’s who she is because honestly there’s no coordination within Eleven period. I really trust Amy’s creative intuition.
What can we expect from Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven’s dynamic this season now that they’re in a long distance relationship?
Well, I think there’s a sense of embarrassment and humility. She wants to tell him everything’s fine, and I think there’s a sense of FOMO. She wants to be in Hawkins. She wants to be with her friends, and I feel like she’s just trying to let Mike know everything’s fine. Like, “I’m fine here. I’m actually having way more fun than you are.” But the bottom line is she’s not. She’s struggling, and she’s hiding that from him. She really has to go through that alone, though, which I think is important. She knows that she has to deal with those bullies at school alone, because no one will truly understand what it’s like to be that different. She’s not just a nerd; she’s one in a million. There’s no one like her. Mike and Eleven’s relationship starts off pretty cute and sweet, but as you get older, you start to deal with real issues and petty arguments. It was fun to be able to tap into that, and the Duffers wrote some great scenes for Finn and I to collaborate on.
What can we expect from Eleven’s journey this season, as we get a deeper look into her past and origins?
This season is the season of explanations. This season really starts to answer all of the questions you have about Eleven’s past and her storyline, which was needed and has been executed beautifully.
Eleven has had such a powerful emotional arc, all the way from the beginning of Season One. She’s gone through so many changes, and this season brings it all to the precipice. How have the Duffers uniquely balanced the drama, horror, action, and comedy throughout that journey — not just in Eleven’s arc, but across the show?
The Duffers have this ability to create so uniquely, and their vision is very artistic. They’re not only directors, they write and produce, and are true collaborators — which is a whole job on its own. They’re never closed off to an idea or an actor’s feedback. As much as this is a sci-fi show and a thriller, they also address so many different real-life experiences and problems, like Eleven’s PTSD and the trauma of her childhood. It’s brilliant that everybody gets to have their own emotional journey that they get to portray in the show. Any audience member can relate to something that one of the characters is going through.
How has the Hawkins crew being more split up and spread out than ever before influenced them this season?
I think that the Duffers made a great decision in splitting us apart, and showing a different 1980s location in California. It’s such a different vibe than Indiana — not that I would know, I was born in 2004. But even just seeing the sets, it’s a completely different environment. I also think the distance actually creates some development and growth between everyone. But in true STRANGER THINGS style, we always come back together and it always ends up in the Upside Down.
Can you talk a bit about the scope and scale of this season? Both are bigger than any past season.
This season, there are no limitations. The Duffers have written things that nobody would’ve imagined. Eleven’s storyline is on a much larger scale. There are things that I didn’t even think were possible — like our main monster this season. Just that in and of itself is quite crazy. I never thought that we would be able to do that on our show, and the fact that there’s so little CGI and it’s already that scary just shows that there are no limitations.
The STRANGER THINGS fandom is massive and global. How has it felt having their support for so long?
The fandom is so devoted to our characters. We’re so grateful for their love of the show. We love the show as much as they do, and so we see the passion in their eyes. But I’ve never been able to actually live like a fan. I’ve never been able to view the show like they do because I’m in it. So all I do is tweak and criticize myself. But I re-watched the show, all three seasons, with my younger sister not too long ago, and watching her fall in love with it actually made me fall in love from a different perspective. I fell in love with Eleven. I was like, “I want to be her!” And then I realized that I am. It was really cool. And she said to me after, “I don’t have to worry about meeting my favorite character, because I live with her.” It’s pretty brilliant.
What are you most excited for fans to see this season?
I’m definitely really excited about the fans seeing Eleven without powers, and her struggles and frustrations. She’s so used to using her powers. And seeing the real relationship struggles between Mike and Eleven, putting some strain and some tension on that.
Cover artwork by Bhavya Poonia/Mashable India
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