In this Screen Tests interview, actress Millie Bobby Brown talks about seeing people of all ages and sizes dressed up as Eleven for Halloween, her love for Beyonce, writing a fan letter to Ellen DeGeneres, playing a girl named Madison Russell in the upcoming ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ movie, and how she became such good friends with Drake (along with her singing and rapping ‘Passionfruit’ and ‘Hotline Bling’).
Nearly two years ago, at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts tea in Los Angeles, Millie Bobby Brown, who was then only 12, was the sensation of the party. Stranger Things, a clever, supernatural homage to 1980s pop culture, had just become a hit, and her character, Eleven, an otherworldly, possibly alien, androgynous girl with telekinetic abilities and a diabolical stare, was the breakout star of the show.
Unlike the misfit Eleven, Brown, who was born in Marbella, Spain, and grew up in Dorset, England, is bubbly, charming, and has a gift for socializing.
She is now taller than when Stranger Things debuted, but she still looks the same: curious, hyper-alert, and appealingly wide-eyed. The entire Brown family has left England and resettled in Atlanta, where Stranger Things is filmed. Brown had just started shooting the third season, after Netflix signed her to a deal for a reported $3 million.
In 2015, when she auditioned for Stranger Things, Brown had no idea that it would become her launching pad. “I didn’t know anything about it,” she explained. “Every part of the show was top secret. I Skyped with the directors [brothers Matt and Ross Duffer], and we spoke about ’80s movies—E.T., Stand by Me, and Poltergeist. I flew to L.A. for a screen test, and the next day I got the job! I was 11. We did the show, and I went back home to England. I thought, Okay, it’s a little show. What’s next? And then we came to America for the premiere. Three days later, my whole life changed. People went crazy! My followers went up to 1 million in one day. Magazines wanted me. One of my goals was to be on the cover of W, and you see? Dreams do come true.”
After the first season of Stranger Things, Brown signed a contract with Calvin Klein and was nominated for an Emmy and a SAG award, while the show won a nod for a Golden Globe. (Last week she was nominated for a second Emmy.) Time magazine chose her for its Time 100, making her the youngest recipient to garner that honor.
Hirschberg: What was the first album you bought with your own money?
Brown: Amy Winehouse. I was 6. I knew every single word to “Valerie.” My dad wouldn’t let me hear “Rehab”! There were definitely rules. Amy Winehouse was my go-to, but back then I sang “We Found Love,” by Rihanna, in the mornings. It got me going when I had to go to school.
Brown: I’ve never been very good at Halloween. I play characters all the time, so what’s the point of dressing up as another character? The last couple of Halloweens, I saw a lot of people dressed as Eleven. Sometimes it’s comforting. But it’s also very interesting to see a 40-year-old man wearing the look of my 12-year-old character.
Hirschberg: As a child, what was your favorite toy?
Brown: A microphone that had High School Musical on it. I could sing with Zac Efron! I watched High School Musical every single day. When I met Zac Efron, I could barely speak.
Hirschberg: What is the first e-mail you remember sending?
Brown: I always wanted to be on Ellen, and that was the first e-mail I sent: to Ellen DeGeneres. I explained my life story and how I needed to be on her show. I never got a response. Five years later, I was on Ellen! She found that e-mail and showed it to the audience. Very embarrassing. I had made lots of grammatical mistakes.
Hirschberg: In Godzilla: King of the Monsters, your first film, which will be out next spring, you play a girl named Madison. Was it hard to act opposite a monster that wasn’t there?
Brown: Godzilla was a tennis ball! I was always looking up. My neck hurt a lot, and I had to get dry needling. They stuck a really big, but thin, needle in my neck. Your muscle then spasms, and, eventually, you’re fine. After the dry needling, I had a great rapport with the tennis ball.
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Millie Bobby Brown on Eleven Halloween Costumes, Beyoncé, and Drake | Screen Tests | W Magazine