Millie Bobby Brown isn't one to sit idly by when it comes to her career. "I think I have a few things in mind that, of course, I would love to be able to achieve, but I don't know if I'll wait around for them. I think I might just make them myself," she tells A.frame.
The 18-year-old is already an accomplished actress with two Emmy nominations for her role as Eleven in Netflix’s mega-hit series, Stranger Things. In recent years, she has also been producing. At 16, Brown produced the first Enola Holmes film for Netflix. She has started her own production company, PCMA Productions, which is behind another of her projects, the adventure fantasy Damsel, which is already in post-production, as well as her latest film, Enola Holmes 2.
Brown returns for the sequel as Sherlock Holmes’ (Henry Cavill) younger sister, the equally clever and possibly feistier Enola. After the events of the first film, Enola is trying to make a name for herself as a detective, but is chafing against the restrictive conventions of Victorian society that keep girls and women as second class citizens. But she is determined to prove herself and solve the case that lands on her desk, one that involves a missing girl, murder, and a larger conspiracy involving a real life worker’s strike from the late 1800s.
Enola's determination once again resonated with Brown. "I obviously am a young girl in an industry that's very much a male-dominated one. So, I work hard at trying to prove myself to others, especially producing the film. I really wanted to prove that I was capable of doing and fulfilling that kind of position," she says. "But I can't say that I personally have struggled with as much as other young girls around the world struggle with. I have an education and I have opportunities, and goals, and dreams that I'm able to fulfill, which is more than many. And this is why I wanted to make this film; to reach audiences all over the world so they feel like they can connect — specifically young girls — can feel like they connect with Enola and focus on trying to aspire to be her."
And Brown put even more of herself into the character this time around, taking a "deep dive" into Enola's brain. "I got to just explore more," Brown says. "I think I discovered a few more qualities about her that I really enjoy, and I wanted to implement some of my flaws, my personal flaws into her."
In the film, Enola is initially a one-woman detective agency, working to find clues and unravel mysteries by herself, almost to a fault. But, as she learns from her mother, Eudoria Holmes, played once again by two-time Oscar nominee Helena Bonham Carter, working with others can yield greater results. Similarly, Brown draws inspiration in her acting ambitions from simply observing her co-stars, like Carter, or her Stranger Things co-star, Winona Ryder, another two-time Oscar nominee. "I've never actually gone up to any of them and asked for advice, because I kind of just stand back and watch them in awe," she says. "I've just been lucky to be able to watch them and take my own advice from the things that I've observed from them and the way they work, the way they talk to people, the way they treat others… And during my [formative] years, to be able to be surrounded by people like that, and to be able to implement characteristics and traits and put that into my own life and who I am, I've been really lucky."
Also returning for the sequel is director Harry Bradbeer, who, in addition to directing, executive produced and co-wrote the story with Jack Thorne, who wrote the screenplay. "I wanted Enola to grow up with Millie," Bradbeer explains. "Millie was now two years older; so, I wanted it to be more of a grown-up story." And the director often found himself collaborating with Brown when it came to character and story, in her capacity as both an actor and producer. "As we're putting the stories together, I would pitch them out to her and I would watch her face, as I do whenever I pitch anything, to see when she looks bored, when she looks excited, when she laughs, when she cries. And, of course, seriously it's about will your generation get it? Are we missing out in anything... she's a great judge of that."
"She's a pro now, she's been doing it a long time," Bradbeer adds. "She's just a film star. I mean she's a 100-watt bulb. She is really awake and on it and we have a lot of debates about what Enola is. She said I am the only other person who knows Enola as well as she does… But that involves really great vibrant debates, and I'll take a good idea from anyone. You rely on your actors; they're your first storytellers. They're the first people that convey that story to the audience. And I watched the film last night and I was amazed at the subtlety of the performance."
Brown says she plans to continue seeking out characters and roles that challenge her. "When I was younger, everything had to feel organic and right for me at my age," she explains. "So, now I'm 18, I get to feel like there's a bit more flexibility within the roles that I play, the stories that I want to tell. But, back then, obviously I was incredibly supported by an amazing team, my family always pointing me in the right direction and trajectory. And I felt very lucky to be able to do the roles that I've done. But now I get to really fulfill that actor role because I'm of age."
Story is top priority for Brown and, as she continues growing and maturing as an artist, she plans on utilizing not only her position as an actor but as a producer behind-the-scenes to offer as much opportunity to succeed, not only for herself, but for others.
"As a producer, I am very interested in creating meaningful stories. I love big messages to reach wide audiences. I love telling real stories," Brown says. "I'm in a very fortunate position to be able to do that, and I'm very aware of that. I am very aware that young people want to be given opportunities and they aren't given opportunities because of their age, their gender, their sexuality. And I am very aware that I get those amazing opportunities. And so, to be able to use my education and my knowledge from what I've learned so far, I'm able to put a message out there to people, saying, 'If they're not going to put you in the movies or the TV [series], make them yourself. And you can make your own dream and make your own path.'"
By Elizabeth Stanton
How Eric Appel's Friendship with Al Yankovic Led to Music's Weirdest Biopic (Exclusive)
'I Had to Rediscover What Moved Me': Why James Gray Got Autobiographical for 'Armageddon Time' (Exclusive)
With 'TÁR,' Cate Blanchett Continues Her Search for 'The Great Noble Failure' (Exclusive)