Stranger Things star Maya Hawke on importance of queer characters in sci-fi: ‘It’s special to me’

Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, Maya Hawke as Robin and Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson in Netflix fantasy horror Stranger Things

Stranger Things star Maya Hawke has spoken about how her character Robin Buckley’s “queerness is just an aspect of her personhood”.

Ahead of the release of the fourth season of Stranger Things, which will be released on Netflix in two volumes on 27 May and 1 July, Hawke told the latest issue of SFX about the importance of LGBT+ characters in sci-fi.

Hawke tries to distance herself from audience critiques, she told the magazine.

“I try to stay out of the feedback loop as much as possible,” she said.

“I’m super-sensitive, and it really affects me when it’s bad. You kind of try to keep doing your work without being too influenced by whether or not people like what you’re doing.

“The feedback from me has been very positive feedback from my audience of one.”

But Hawke isn’t alone, and in Stranger Things‘ third season, Robin became the series’ first character to be confirmed queer, to the delight of fans.

For the actor, playing an LGBT+ character in a sci-fi series is “really important”.

She said: “I’m really enjoying getting the opportunity to voice Robin and live in that world and be an LGBTQ character whose identity isn’t… the story that Robin gets to be a part of isn’t necessarily an LGBTQ story.

“It’s this adventure story, just like everybody else, her queerness is just a kind of aspect of her personhood. That feels really special to me.

“There should definitely be stories about queerness and gayness and explore that and express it, but also, there should be gay characters and stories that are sci-fi action stories. That feels really important to me.”

In the third season of Stranger Things, viewers witnessed a blossoming friendship between Robin and Steve (Joe Keery), her ice cream parlour colleague, even after he confessed his feelings for her.

Friendship over romance, Hawke said, is a concept that doesn’t get enough airtime.

“So many of my closest friends are boys,” she told SFX.

“I have a lot of friends who are girls, too, but so many are boys. I rarely see healthy, non-complicated friendships between men and women on camera, and in shows where no one has a hidden agenda.

“They’re really out there to protect each other and to care about each other. Season three was kind of about them finding that friendship, and season four, it’s definitely one of my favourite friendships I’ve ever acted in.

“I also don’t feel like friendship gets enough attention as a concept in itself… I feel and have felt some of the strongest things I’ve ever felt in my life about my friends.”