Joining a bona fide Everest-scale hit like Stranger Things midway must be intimidating for an actor and Maya Hawke has admitted she felt pure relief at fans’ acceptance.
Hawkes joined Stranger Things in season three as gay character Robin and she talked to Netflix Queue about what it meant to become such a fan favourite.
Hawke said: “I mean, gratifying is a funny word. It was definitely a relief. I was so nervous. Whenever you enter a big show like that, where the characters are so beloved and any new presence can sometimes seem like a threat, it’s always a risk.”
As a TV fan herself, Hawke knows the feeling of anxiety when producers introduce a big character to an established show. It comes with risk.
“I’m almost like, ‘Are you going to ruin it? Are we going to spend too much time with you?'” she said. “So I was really concerned about fans having that reaction to Robin. I was really afraid. I’ve never been on anything with such a close eye on it and with such intense fan investment. That was really intimidating.”
Robin was introduced to Stranger Things as a work colleague of Steve’s at Scoops Ahoy, but soon became intrinsically involved in the group’s investigations of paranormal activity. The fact Robin is gay is an added bonus, according to Hawke.
“I was really happy about it for a simple reason,” she said. “There are a lot of complicated reasons, but the simple reason was that I think it’s really amazing to show a male-female relationship form on camera that isn’t about sex.
“Most of the time, that’s an undercurrent in one direction or another, and for Steve and Robin, it really isn’t. Even if Steve thinks it is for a little while, or it gets confused, as soon as it’s taken off the table for him, he’s equally invested in the friendship.”
Hawke added that “having one of the few aromantic friendships between a man and a woman on mainstream TV… It’s really cool to me.”
Production on Stranger Things season four has been halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, although there have been reports filming will start again in September. Even if that is the case, it’s believed the Netflix hit won’t be back on screen until next summer at the earliest.