New York-born Maya Hawke, 23, began her career as a model before debuting on screen as Jo March in the BBC’s 2017 adaptation of Little Women. She was Linda “Flowerchild” Kasabian in Quentin Tarantinos Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and plays Robin in the Netflix hit Stranger Things. Hawke is participating now Mainstream, directed and written by Gia Coppola. She lives in New York and is the daughter of actors Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke.
Your new movie Mainstream is a satire on viral fame. Are people too addicted to their cell phones today?
I’m sure, but it would be hypocritical of me to be judgmental because I love my phone. I love that I can go for a walk, put on headphones, listen to Phoebe Bridgers, feel melancholy and cry. I love that I can take a bath, play an audiobook and learn about neuroscience while washing my hair. For someone who travels all the time and hates being alone, that connection is amazing. I use my phone all the time, but I’m sure it rots my brain and separates me from real connections. For my generation, it’s hard to know life without it and what we’re missing.
How was working with your co-star Andrew Garfield?
The best thing about working with a great actor is when you forget you’re playing and all of a sudden you’re just in the moment together. It’s like looking into the eyes of a wild animal and reacting.
In the film, he wears an extraordinary pair of underpants with strap-on so it looks like he is naked…
Those pants are something of a thing, man. He went completely out. Balls to the wall, as they say. Literally.
Did your parents approve of your acting career in the beginning?
They were on guard against the public life side of acting and the difficulties of it. They also tried to protect me from falling into acting. They wanted to make sure I had a strong enough backbone, my own passion for it and work ethic. They did not want to run me along every red carpet or have me make bit-parts in their movies. When I was old enough and it was clear that they were my choices, they were very supportive.
What are your favorites of your parents’ movies?
It’s funny, I have not seen them all. Sometimes you do not really want to see your mother being shot, or your father going through painful emotions, even though you know it is pretended. So for the most part, I only see the happy ones. One of my favorite movies of my mom is The Producers [Susan Stroman’s 2005 remake of Mel Brooks’s musical], where she dances around and is fabulous. It’s a lot more fun to watch than for John Travolta to stick a needle into her heart.
Little Women was your debut role. What did co-stars do Emily Watson and Angela Lansbury teach you?
It was so enlightening to see them both work. Emily Watson was incredibly friendly. She played Marmee and was truly a mother figure on that set. I remember when a scene didn’t work, she just held all our hands, looked down at the ground and let out this beautiful singing scream. It changed the energy in the room, which was a fat trick. Angela Lansbury may have been in the 90s, but she was so quick with the language that it was amazing. Little Women was a life-changing positive experience. I made four lasting friendships and learned so much.
Your Stranger Things character, Robin Buckley, came out as a lesbian in season three. Did it get a good response from viewers?
Recently, someone told me they were watching that season with their daughter. During that episode, they both started crying, then the daughter came out to the mother. I credit the Duffer brothers [Stranger Things creators] to write such an amazing character.
How has being dyslexic affected your career? Does it make it harder to read scripts or learn lines?
Learning lines are fine, but it makes it hard to look at a bunch of manuscripts with suspense. If I ever reach a certain level of success, I hire someone to read scripts aloud.
Who would you hire?
I recently wrote a fan letter to Thandiwe Newton because I was listening to her audiobook by Jane Eyre and it’s one of the best performances I’ve ever heard. Thandiwe Newton, of course, will never read my scripts to me, but I love her voice.
You were there Quentin Tarantinos Once upon a time a time in Hollywood. Would you like a bigger role in one of his films someday? It’s about inheriting your mother’s role as the bride enters Kill Bill Vol 3…
There are always rumors about it. Quentin has his own damn schedule. He will do what he wants when he wants the hell good. But I have known him all my life, and if he would ever work with me again, I would of course love it.
You are also a musician. Would you like to make more music and less plays, or is the balance right?
I think that’s right. When I made my first record, I felt very dilettante-like about it – as if this is a great way to express myself and work with friends. During the pandemic, when we suddenly could not act anymore, I started to focus on the music, and my relationship with it was deepened. I’ve made something I’m really proud of and I’m looking forward to sharing it soon.
Who are your musical influences?
I’m a big fan of Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. My four favorite albums from the past year have been fetch The bolt cutters by Fiona Apple, Punishes by Phoebe Bridgers, Folklore by Taylor Swift and Songs by Adrianne Lenker. She’s amazing.
What projects are in the pipeline?
I am currently in Spain recording [Wes Anderson’s next film] Asteroid City, which is very exciting. I’m the biggest fan of his work, so it’s a dream come true.
Is it true that you are a distant cousin of Tennessee Williams?
That’s what my father says. I do not really believe in it. But I would love to do a Tennessee Williams play one day. I have not done any theater since school and it is at the top of my list. Please tell West End to have me and I’ll come.
Mainstream is available on VOD platforms from Monday, November 8th