Despite gruesome CGI monsters, telekinesis, and fantastical storylines, the essence of Stranger Things comes from the chemistry between the characters. Whether it is love, friendship, or even manipulation, the portrayal is very real. Matthew Modine and Millie Bobby Brown share an extremely complex bond on screen as Papa and Eleven. While the relationship might seem farfetched or over-the-top on the surface, the core is rooted in reality.
An overprotective father figure, a diabolical control freak, or a cruel master puppeteer — Matthew Modine’s Papa has a layered personality. Scenes with him and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) range from heartwarming to downright heart-wrenching and everything in between. A major factor for their amazing depiction of the convoluted dynamic is their off-screen relationship.
Matthew Modine and Millie Bobby Brown off-screen
Stranger Things 4 saw some very intense scenes between Eleven and Papa. In an exclusive interview with Vulture, Modine opened up about how they handled the more difficult scenes in the Netflix series. He and Millie Bobby Brown would “check in with each other, especially during scenes where we’re being harmful to one another.”
Revealing their pre-filming process, Modine says, “We would begin by saying, “I love you.” We would wink at each other before a scene started so we knew what we were doing, especially if it was saying something painful.” Modine expressed that this would help them “connect with one another and lift each other’s game.” He believes Brown is “an expert at her craft”. Modine even compared Millie Bobby Brown to Judy Garland and Natalie Wood while pointing out her “old Hollywood” charm.
Modine recalls season 1 Eleven and Papa
With Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) losing her powers at the end of season 3, her reunion with the still alive Dr. Brenner was inevitable. Back to his manipulative and controlling ways, he helps Eleven revive her abilities. They were right where they started in season 1, the complex dynamics of the father-daughter/captor-hostage situation.
Recalling their origin story from season 1, Matthew Modine narrated his approach with the 11-year-old Millie Bobby Brown. In his opinion, when working with children, “the best thing to do is leave them alone.” Giving a tennis analogy, he explains, one should “make the person on the other side of the net, your scene partner, be the best performer they are capable of being.”
They also had conversations about the character’s motivation and the “idea behind the dialogue” so that the child actor could “understand what’s going on emotionally.” Matthew spoke fondly of Brown’s gift of “tremendous intelligence and understanding of what I was talking about and the ability to take a very specific direction.”
No wonder Eleven and Papa have such amazing chemistry on-screen. Every interaction, every conflict, and every altercation is nothing short of pure magic. Tell us some of your favorite Stranger Things scenes between Millie Bobby Brown and Matthew Modine.