To say that the casting of Maya Hawke on Stranger Things was a match made in heaven would be an understatement.
Her character, Robin Buckley, was introduced to the show in season three working alongside her former classmate, Steve Harrington, at Starcourt Mall's ice cream parlour. Albeit tenuously, the pair struck up a connection, which inevitably turned into a wholesome friendship after Robin comes out as a lesbian to Steve.
Robin's confidence, smarts and vibrant personality literally beamed through the screen—and it wasn't hard to see how when, ahead of season four's release, ELLE Australia sat down with the actor herself, Maya Hawke.
She joined us in a Zoom chat alongside her cast mates, Joe Keery (Steve), Natalia Dyer (Nancy), and another newcomer, Joseph Quinn (Eddie)—it didn't take long before she began speaking their praises.
"Everyone was so warm and welcoming," she told us of her first moments on the Stranger Things set.
Of course, she admitted it was "intimidating" to join such an iconic ensemble, but her fears were entirely in vain.
"I'm a little socially awkward," she laughed, "But having Joe [Keery] as a scene partner was just like, the best and the most fun, from the first time we did a chemistry read."
And of all the incredible actors the show has tapped (Millie Bobby Brown, Winona Ryder, Sadie Sink, Sean Astin and Caleb McLaughlan to name a few), there was one in particular who shocked Hawke—in the best way.
"Priah," Hawke instantly replies when we ask who stood out to her the most.
She is, of course, referring to 15-year-old Priah Ferguson, who was just 10 when she first took on the role of Erica Sinclair in the series.
"Working with a little kid, I haven't done it that much, but she was just the most prepared, the most funny, she had the best manners," Hawke continued.
"She was just a stellar amazing person to work with. I was like wow this small child was the best scene partner I've ever had!"
The compliment isn't one to be taken lightly—Hawke has worked alongside the likes of Brad Pitt and Margaret Qualley in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, as well as Liev Schreiber and Marisa Tomei in Human Capital.
Hawke's character Robin has just cemented herself as a mainstay character in season four—but Natalia Dyer, whose character Nancy Wheeler has been a Stranger Things stalwart since its inception, has had one of the show's biggest arcs.
"[Nancy] is way more badd ass than I am," Dyer told ELLE during the same interview.
But, she said Nancy's journey from timid teen to outspoken editor of the Hawkins High newspaper didn't come easily.
"It was kind of like taking an ordinary person, but seeing what happens to them when they go through extraordinary experiences—I'm really happy with where she goes and why she does what she does," Dyer added.
In season four, we're set to see the teen characters come into themselves even more—Robin is desperately crushing on Hawkins High band member, Vickie, Steve is searching for his one true love after breaking up with Nancy, and Nancy herself? She's caught up in her own complicated love story with Jonathan, whom she shares a long-distance relationship with.
As for Eleven, the Byers family, Max, Billy and everyone else? Season four will no doubt tell all.
You can stream Stranger Things 4 on Netflix from May 27. Log in or sign up here.