One among the plethora of new faces added to Season 4 of Netflix's global juggernaut Stranger Things is child star Martie Blair, a pint-sized wonder whose effortless turn as a young Eleven has earned rave reviews within the show's ever burgeoning fandom.
Functioning as a vital cog in bringing Eleven's flashback sequences at Hawkins laboratory to life, Martie stood in as the 9-year old version of Eleven, with her face being digitally replaced with Millie Bobby Brown's during post-production.
The end result? A seamless, de-aged version of young Eleven on screen, which left the show's teeming army of faithfuls in absolute awe.
Stepping into the shoes of a character as beloved as Eleven is certainly no mean feat and can prove to be quite nerve-wracking, especially for one so young.
Luckily for Martie, Brown's able guidance at every step ensured that the budding star, who had been a fan of the actress for years prior to playing her, held her own quite admirably.
Moreover, in a recent interview, Martie's older counterpart not only hailed the diminutive star as an 'incredible small child' but also gushed over her 'amazing performance', further indicative of the wholesome bond that developed between the two on set.
In a candid and exclusive interview with Saahil Agnelo Periwal of SkPop, Martie recently opened up about her indelible Stranger Things experience, the Eleven connection, working alongside accomplished co-stars and more.
Stranger Things star Martie Blair on working with Millie Bobby Brown, Jamie Campbell Bower and more
Q) Hi Martie! What was the entire on-set experience of working on a beloved Netflix series, Stranger Things, like?
Martie: Stranger Things is not only popular around the world but it was my favorite show even before I auditioned.
So getting this part was literally a dream come true. The funny thing is, my brother had a magic eight ball and I remember asking it once if I would ever get to audition for my favorite show and it said, “signs point to yes!” When I saw that same answer on the actual show… that I was on… very weird, but then again, stranger things have happened I guess.
Being on set was super amazing especially since I got to meet and even work with the cast members I love. The entire crew was really nice and welcoming. You can imagine I was a little nervous but everyone made me feel so comfortable.
It was so crazy to see this creepy room in a strange lab with blood and stuff everywhere. But, again, it’s my favorite show so I just tried to put that scary feeling into my performance as best I could.
I think I was breathing really heavily at one point. Oh, and working with the Duffer Brothers was a fun and exciting experience that I think has really made me a better actor. They are so nice. I hope to see them again.
Q) Could you tell us about what got you started on your acting journey and how were you introduced to the world of films and acting ?
Martie: My older brother and sister went to a summer acting camp in North Hollywood one year. They wanted to go to the LA Zoo camp but our dad didn’t enroll them in time. So our mom found this acting camp not far from our house. They ended up loving it and signing up with agents and a manager.
They started auditioning and getting on commercials, shows and movies. So, when I got a little older, my parents asked their manager if she would like to meet me. I didn’t want to go because I was nervous that I couldn’t do it. But I went and started auditioning. I got to see my brother and sister do it but didn’t really get it until I booked a role on The Young & The Restless.
It was my first on-set experience and I got bit by the acting bug big time and was really excited to go on more auditions.
Q) What was it like playing the role of a young Eleven?
What does it mean to you and was there any particular preparation you had to undergo for the role, considering how popular her character is?
Martie: I was a fan of Eleven for a few years before I got to play her so I was very familiar and had pretended to be that character for fun make-believe at home many times.
To be able to play this character was a dream come true, sometimes I still can’t believe I got to play this role, I’m really proud I was a part of season 4.
Q) What was it like meeting Millie Bobby Brown on set and being able to step into the shoes of her iconic character?
Martie: The whole thing was absolutely amazing. I really didn’t have any bad experiences. But the love and attention Millie showed me is something I’ll never forget. We got to have lunch together and the last day on set, I got to spend some nice time alone talking with her. I think she’s going to be a great director!!
Her directions were very clear and maybe because she’s an actor or because she helped create this character or something, but she was really able to explain the direction to me in an emotional way from the perspective of 11.
Does that make sense? Like, her direction was more like she was describing a memory she really had.
That helped me feel what she wanted. So I didn’t have to think about it much. I could just slide into character and feel what she described.
I just hope I did the character and Millie justice and I hope I made her proud.
Q) Apart from Millie, you also had the opportunity to work alongside stars such as Matthew Modine and Jamie Campbell Bower.
Tell us more about this experience?
Martie: Mathew was as nice as you would expect. He was the perfect person for a young actor like me to work with. Super cool, kept it fun and light but also very professional.
He made himself accessible for advice and ideas. He really shows what a professional in this business working with kids should be like.
Jamie and I hung out on set a lot. We were working on a lot of the same days. Plus, we were both there for the first time so we kinda shared that.
He’s awesome and I wish him the best. Would love to work with him again someday, or even just to hang out with him again. Actually, I’d like to go shopping with him.
He’s got a great eye for fashion. We talked about that a bit. He really liked one of my sweaters and commented on my style.
Q) How do you balance acting and school?
Martie: It hasn’t really been an issue. The set teachers I’ve had have all been great. All the auditions are self taped and we send them in now after COVID so we do them at night.
Q) What are some of your hobbies apart from acting? Games/ Sports you like to play?
Martie: I’m kind of a gamer. I LOVE Roblox, Mortal Kombat, and Forza Horizon especially. My closest friends don’t live near me anymore but I’m always playing with them virtually.
I also like to shop and get out and explore new places. My mom, dad, brother, sister and I do everything together. We are a very close family.
Q) What do you love the most about the Stranger Things series ?
Martie: I love the different relationships between the different characters. These characters are so developed at this point and we really know and love them.
And to watch the different relationships between them change over the course of the series is very interesting.
I think the Duffer Brothers are one of the best writing teams in the business, they always find a way to top themselves… not an easy thing to do.
Q) Your Top 3 favourite characters from Stranger Things ?
Martie: 11 (of course), Joyce, and Hopper.
Q) Top three favourite Hollywood actors you would love to work with and admire?
Martie: Leonardo, Winona, and, he’s not an actor but I would love to be on a Tim Burton's project some day.
Q) If not an actor, what would you like to be when you grow up?
Martie: Fashion designer.
Q) Having already made a mark as young Eleven so far, what upcoming projects do you have coming up in the new year?
Martie: I can’t talk about my upcoming projects right now. Shhh. (Holds finger to mouth)
Q) How has the feedback and support from friends, family and fans been so far?
Martie: Incredible! It’s crazy because EVERYONE knows what Stranger Things is. Everyone knows 11. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone until it came out but it has been a lot of fun.
My Pop-pop keeps asking me for signed headshots to give to his friends, haha!
The fans have been great. I was a little worried actually, because I’m probably as much a fan of Millie’s 11 as anybody and I totally get it if people are like, no one can play 11 but Millie! So, I was kinda expecting some of that. But, fortunately that didn’t happen.
The fans have been awesome. I just hope they think I did a good job. That really means a lot to me because I want to know that the biggest 11/Millie fans in the world think I did a good job. It’s important to me because I’m one of those fans.
Q) Any message you would like to share for viewers across the globe tuning in to watch you on Stranger Things and on-screen in the near future ?
Martie: I certainly think this season delivers a powerful punch. It’s the first season after COVID and we all waited a long time for it… as cast, crew and fans. It doesn’t disappoint but beware, the scary stuff is definitely kicked up a notch or two.
Also, at first I was a little bummed that the entire season wasn’t immediately available but now it’s great because we all can still enjoy the anticipation of new Stranger Things content coming soon without having to wait another year or more.