It’s a tricky job breathing humanity into characters facing down an invasion of demonic creatures from another dimension, but the young cast of Stranger Things has always been up to the challenge. Season 3 welcomed several new characters to Hawkins and the Upside Down, and while they've all integrated seamlessly into the various adolescent gangs protecting the town, one in particular stands out.
Second only to Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) as the perfect foil for reformed douchebag Steve (Joe Keery), Maya Hawke’s Robin has emerged as the season’s breakout character. Sardonic, straight-talking, and able to rock a sailor suit like nobody else, it’s no wonder Robin catches the eye of her Scoops Ahoy colleague, even before her code-breaking chops play a pivotal role in defeating the season’s biggest threat. Even as Robin trades barbs (too soon?) with Steve, Hawke layers a subtle vulnerability beneath Robin’s wise-cracking exterior, which makes the character’s big personal reveal in episode 7 all the more poignant.
So who is Maya Hawke? Here are answers to all of your questions about the up-and-coming star:
Yes indeed, Maya Hawke is the daughter of A-listers Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. Once you know who her parents are, it’s hard to imagine anyone could miss it: at certain angles, she’s the spitting image of her mother, and at others, she looks exactly like her dad. But drama runs in her family even more deeply than that: on her father’s side, she’s also related to the legendary playwright Tennessee Williams.
After a childhood spent hanging out with her parents on movie sets and backstage, it’s no surprise that Hawke wound up pursuing acting. As a high schooler, she initially resisted the acting bug before finally acknowledging it was her true passion. She graduated from an arts-focused private high school in Brooklyn, took part in summer programs at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London, and also attended the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. From there, she applied to the Juilliard School -- one of the world’s most prestigious acting programs -- where she was accepted as a member of Group 50 and enrolled in the fall of 2017.
Surprisingly, Stranger Things is only Hawke’s second onscreen appearance, although she has also done some modeling in campaigns for AllSaints and Calvin Klein, among others.
After just two semesters at Juilliard, Hawke left the school when she was cast as Jo in the 2018 BBC adaptation of Little Women. The opportunity to take on a leading role opposite the likes of Emily Watson and Angela Lansbury was too good to pass up, but more than that, the Louisa May Alcott novel had long been one of Hawke’s favorites. The adaptation, helmed by Call the Midwife creator Heidi Thomas, was mostly well-received, with critics noting Maya’s performance as a particular highlight.
The tagline for Stranger Things 3 is “One summer can change everything,” and it’s looking like this summer may indeed be the one that changes everything for Hawke. She’s completed work in a string of upcoming films, including a small role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which opens July 25. She’ll also appear in Ladyworld, an all-female spin on Lord of the Flies, which hits theaters and VOD platforms August 2.
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Jessica Liese has been writing and podcasting about TV since 2012. Follow her on Twitter at @HaymakerHattie.