‘Stranger Things’ Star Maya Hawke Floored the Duffer Brothers From the Beginning: ‘She Felt like One-in-a-Million’

For Variety’s latest issue, we asked the Duffer Brothers to write a tribute to Maya Hawke, one of 53 people to make our New Power of New York list. For the full list, click here.

“A young Janeane Garofalo.” That’s how we originally pitched the character of Robin in “Stranger Things.” But that’s about all we had. Well, that and two short scenes where Robin hands out ice cream with Steve Harrington. We just didn’t really know who Robin was — what made her interesting, what made her stand out. That is, until our casting director, Carmen Cuba, gave us the three-word answer: “She’s Maya Hawke.” “Who?” we asked. “Just … trust me,” she said.

Fast-forward six months, and we’re shooting in that ice cream shop, and Maya pulls us aside and asks, “So … are you guys basically just writing … me?” We had to laugh, because the answer was, “Well, kinda, yeah!” Because the thing about Maya? She’s much more interesting than any original character we could ever make up. She’s hilarious, she’s whip-smart, she’s very honest and real, and she’s just awesomely weird, her energy some mix between a playful, excited teenager and a wizened Hollywood actor who’s seen it all. She is just so uniquely Maya, and we became obsessed with capturing her essence and putting it out into the world, because she felt like one-in-a-million. (Although we’re sure Maya would like us to add that, unlike the character of Robin, she’s not a weird runner. She runs like a regular human, thank you very much.)

It was gratifying when the world found Maya just as irresistible as we did. Equally gratifying has been watching her career blast off. In the last few months alone, she delivered a killer star turn in “Do Revenge” and released a breathtaking new album, “Moss,” which has cemented her as a well-respected singer-songwriter. What’s next is anyone’s guess. All we know is that she’s here to stay and will be entertaining all of us for a very long time. How can we be so sure?

She’s Maya Hawke. Just … trust us.

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