Breaking Big: Maya Hawke on her favorite Stranger Things 3 scenes, why she was destined to act
The daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman talks about her breakout role on the Netflix hit and working with Quentin Tarantino.
Sure, she played Jo March in Little Women — no, not that one with Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalament, but the BBC/PBS production costarring Angela Lansbury, Michael Gambon, Emily Watson, and the new Prince Eric, Jonah Hauer-King — but it was this year’s third installment of Stranger Things that served as 21-year-old Maya Hawke‘s breakout moment. Playing the ice-cream-scooping Robin, she not only helped save Hawkins, Ind. from creatures and Russians but also broke ground as the series’ first LGBTQ character.
If that wasn’t big enough, she also appeared in one of 2019’s biggest movies, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, she’s already filmed the movie Mainstream (out next year) where she’s starring opposite Andrew Garfield, and — because it turns out she’s multi-talented — she’s currently recording an album.
Below, Hawke reflects on why 2019 ruled for her, and she looks ahead to 2020.
ON OPENING MINDS In a series filled with special effects and CGI monsters, one of the most exhilarating moments of Stranger Things’ third season was Robin’s coming out to co-worker Steve (Joe Keery). The 21-year-old actress hopes that her performance as Robin may have opened some eyes and hearts. “I always have loved that she came out in the end,” she says. “It’s a family show that is multinational and bipartisan. People like it in the red states and in the blue states. It’s an important thing when shows that have that wide a reach make an effort to introduce different kinds of people into their lens.”
STRANGER FAVORITES Hawke cites Robin’s coming out as one of her favorite scenes along with the moment when she and Steve are tied up in the Russian base. “I really love those,” she reveals. “I think those are the ones where you get to know Robin the best. She has the most room to breathe.”
TARANTINO TIME Hawke also appeared in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood in a brief cameo and was directed by Quentin Tarantino, who worked with Hawke’s mother, Uma Thurman, many times. “It was wonderful,” she says. “Quentin is such a brilliant and enthusiastic filmmaker and director. His passion radiates through you. There are very few people who love movies as much as he does. And I had the blessing of getting to be directed by him and knowing him. It wasn’t as scary as I think it could be for some people. I got to get straight into just feeling the joy.”
MUSIC TO HER EARS The actress dropped two songs this year, “To Love a Boy” and “Stay Open,” and plans to release a full album. “It’s really a passion project for me,” says Hawke. “I’ve always written songs my whole life, and it’s been something I really enjoy doing it as a form of self-expression.”
FASHION TIPS FROM DAD Things’ popularity also means Hawke’s own public visibility has increased in the past year. Thankfully, famous parents (Thurman and Ethan Hawke) can help with coping mechanisms. Quips the actress, “A strategy I learned from my dad actually is dressing like a somewhat homeless person, and then nobody bothers you.”
ACTING DYNASTY Growing up in an acting family, Hawke’s parents didn’t push her into the industry but realized she had it in her genes. “They encouraged me to make a really conscious decision,” says the actress. “My parents are very loving and intuitive and talented people, and eventually it became clear, not just to me, but to them that was what I was supposed to do. So, there wasn’t much negotiating with me at that point.”
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Netflix’s hit sci-fi series follows a group of kids in the '80s battling supernatural forces in Hawkins, Ind.