The untold truth of Maya Hawke

Stranger Things returned for its third season in 2019, and according to Netflix, subscribers streamed the show in record-breaking numbers. "Compared to the second season, Stranger Things 3 was an even bigger hit," Nielsen confirmed (via CNBC). "Not only did its viewership increase compared to the previous season, it's also the most watched Netflix original series we've ever analyzed." Showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer rediscovered their groove, as Wired put it, but their nostalgic blend of all-things '80s wouldn't be quite as fun to watch if it wasn't for the talented ensemble cast. All the regulars delivered the goods, however it was a new cast member that had everyone talking.

Newbie Maya Hawke made a huge impact as Robin Buckley, the former classmate and current co-worker of Joe Keery's Steve Harrington. The character played a vital role in unravelling the mystery threat hanging over Hawkins in Stranger Things season 3, putting the actress that plays her on the map. This wasn't Hawke's first rodeo, however. "Maya is an incredibly smart, fearless, strong, young woman," Gia Coppola, who directed Hawke in her drama flick Mainstream, said (via WWD). "I've learned so much about how to approach life by just being around her. It's no doubt she's going be a big star."

She's clearly destined for the A-List, but where did she come from all of a sudden? This is the untold truth of Maya Hawke.

Maya Hawke's name should be ringing a big Hollywood bell

If her name didn't give it away, then her familiar face surely did. Maya Hawke is the daughter of Hollywood stars Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. The now-divorced former couple met on the set of the 1997 sci-fi flick Gattaca, and welcomed their daughter the following year (a son, Levon, followed in 2002). When Maya sat down with The Sydney Morning Herald in 2017, the up-and-coming actress revealed that she spent her childhood going between her mom's place in Manhattan and her dad's pad in Brooklyn. "There are things that are hard about coming from a divorced family, but having two houses is not one of those things," she said. "It's about the dynamic."

Her parents finalized their divorce in 2005, as cheating rumors about her dad (who went on to marry former family nanny, Ryan Shawhughes) swirled. Maya now has three younger half-sisters, and she loves them all equally. "The more independence that I get and the more freedom that I have, the more interested I am in being a dedicated and involved family member," she told Vogue. "My family is really supportive. We fight and we talk and we lie and we tell the truth — not usually in that order — and I really enjoy growing with them and fostering that dynamic."

Maya Hawke is her mother's daughter

According to the critics, Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is his best film in years. It's the director's ninth movie, and the first time he's worked with Maya Hawke — she plays a minor character named Flower Child in the filmmaker's '60s-set love letter to Los Angeles. This wasn't the first time they met, however. During a 2018 interview with Elle, Hawke recalled being on the set of 2003's Kill Bill, one of her mother's most iconic moviesThe family relocated to China for six months during the shoot, and Hawke (just four-years-old at the time) would "watch my mom get the s*** kicked out of her while I ate gummy bears."

Tarantino has described Uma Thurman as his "muse" in the past, likening their working relationship to that of Alfred Hitchcock had Ingrid Bergman. For Hawke, getting to work with the modern-day auteur was a real full-circle moment. "I grew up around Quentin and around those movies," she told Entertainment Tonight at the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood premiere. "They meant a lot to me and the story of my family and my growing up, so it's wonderful to add my own little piece to the puzzle. It was wonderful to follow [in my mother's] footsteps, just for a second, in that way, and relate to her and experience some of what she experienced."

Ethan Hawke couldn't be prouder

Maya Hawke's first on-screen role was in PBS miniseries Little Women (2017), produced by the BBC. The celebrity scion played aspiring writer Jo March in the three-part adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's coming-of-age classic. She described the experience as "a combination of total familiarity and total alienation" in a 2019 interview with WWD. "I'm so used to being on set, but the idea that I would be the one getting into costume was ... I was like, 'Me? Okay. I guess so. Sure.'" The critics loved the show (it was Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a score of 84 percent), and so did Maya's dad.

"It's one of the most amazing moments of my life watching her in Little Women," Ethan Hawke told People. "She didn't do a good job, she did a great job. To see your child thrive, and to see her thrive at a profession that you have a lot of respect for, that I've dedicated my life to, I was so proud of her." The four-time Oscar nominee was equally enamored with his daughter's performance in Stranger Things season 3, taking to Instagram to heap praise on her. "Ladies and gentlemen, get to know MAYA HAWKE," Ethan wrote. "She's the real thing." Maya's Stranger Things co-star Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler) approved of the post. "Yay Dad!" the young actor replied (via Metro).

Maya Hawke struggled with dyslexia growing up

Maya Hawke was diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade, and she has struggled with it since. "I went from school to school to school, looking for the right place for me," she said during her sit-down with The Sydney Morning HeraldShe eventually learned to read and write, but it didn't come easy. As a student she would get by using audiobooks — until she was introduced to Little Women, that is. Louisa May Alcott's beloved novel was the first book that Hawke read from cover to cover, which is why she jumped at the chance to play the story's protagonist, Jo March.

"Jo was a literary heroine of mine, especially when I was struggling with my dyslexia growing up," Hawke revealed. "Her ambition, courage and drive to overcome her obstacles really inspired me. And I always related to her clumsiness, her curiosity, her stubbornness, her always putting her foot in her mouth. When I heard the BBC was making Little Women, I rushed to audition." Coincidentally, the last actress to famously play March was her Stranger Things co-star, Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers). "I did get to speak to her about it at the cast dinner beginning Stranger Things," Hawke told Vulture. "We just talked about what a wonderful honor it is to get to embody a person like that."

Choosing her career over Juilliard was 'incredibly difficult' for Maya Hawke

After her dyslexia diagnosis, Maya Hawke enrolled in a school specially equipped for her needs. "When you're growing up with a learning disability, it shoots your confidence and belief in what you can accomplish academically," she told Vogue. She went on to attend Saint Ann's (an institution in Brooklyn Heights that focuses on the arts) and eventually landed a coveted spot at the world famous Juilliard School. "I learned more in one year at that school than almost the rest of my life put together," she told VultureShe loved her time at Juilliard, which made her decision to drop out an "incredibly difficult" one.

When Hawke was offered the lead role in Little Women, she had to choose between her dream school and her dream role, and she picked the latter. Unfortunately, this meant she could never come back. "Juilliard has a zero-tolerance policy for absences due to work," Hawke told The Sydney Morning Herald. "I only would have missed five days, and I wrote them a really nice letter asking them please to take me back, but I was ready to accept the repercussions of my choice." Despite her respect for the school, she knew leaving was the right move. "I wanted my own apartment and job, and I wanted to move on to the next chapter of what my life was going to be."

Maya Hawke's Stranger Things character was rewritten for her

Robin Buckley went down extremely well with fans of Stranger Things, but the version of the character that Matt and Ross Duffer created ahead of Season 3 wasn't the one we got to see on screen. Speaking to WWD, Maya Hawke revealed that the sibling showrunners tweaked the character after they got to know her a little better. "I'm a super joyful, exuberant person, especially on set," the actress said. "I bring a lot of energy, maybe from nerves or something, but they kind of tapped into that and then started to write the character more along those lines."

When she accepted the part, Hawke was told that Robin was a sarcastic and down-to-earth Madonna wannabe that nobody seemed to notice — but Robin slowly morphed into someone closer to Hawke's own personality. Interestingly, Robin's biggest character moment wasn't actually set in stone from the start. Speaking to Variety at the premiere of Once Upon a Time in HollywoodHawke revealed that she and the Duffers didn't decide that Robin should be a lesbian until they were around halfway through filming the season. "It was kind of a collaborative conversation, and I'm really, really happy with the way that it went," she said.

No, Maya Hawke isn't dating her Stranger Things co-star IRL

Before Robin came out as a lesbian in Stranger Things, everyone seemed to be shipping her and Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) hard. When Dustin told Steve that his cool co-worker was the right girl for him, we all agreed. And when Robin admitted that she'd been obsessed with Harrington at school while the pair were tied up together in the Russian bunker during episode 6, the stars seemed to be aligning. Then, in the following episode, Robin revealed that her obsession stemmed from the fact that the girl she liked had a major crush on Steve, who took a few seconds to comprehend that she was actually gay. Still, they could be an item in real life, right? Wrong.

According to Seventeen, Keery has been dating actress Maika Monroe since they met on the set of 2018's After Everything. But what about Maya Hawke? When she spoke with The Sydney Morning Herald in 2017, she revealed that she was single. "I think I scare men," she joked. "I was given the impression that being 19 and single in the world means you'll be fending off the wolves, but I can't find a wolf to save my life." Her relationship status seems to have changed since then, however. She hasn't officially confirmed it, but Hawke appears to be dating Gus Wenner, son of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner — the pair look totally loved up in some pics they've shared on Instagram (via Elite Daily). 

​Being the new girl on Stranger Things was tough

Coming into an established show as a new character is never easy, as Maya Hawke discovered when she arrived on the set of Stranger Things. "It was hard to find my footing," she told WWD. "But everyone who works on the show loves the show, everyone is really devoted to it, and so it was probably only me that made it hard, just psychologically." Luckily, Hawke's character was part of a "new family" for Season 3. The vast majority of her scenes were with a combination of Joe Keery, Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson) and Priah Ferguson (Erica Sinclair), affectionately known as the Scoops Troop.

"I think that I came in really excited to join and to play and to become a part of it, and I was lucky because the group of people that I came into ... like, Dustin and Steve and Erica, have not spent that much time together," she told Collider. The Scoops Troop "needed its own new identity ... that I got to contribute to equally." Executive producer Shawn Levy admitted that putting these four characters together "doesn't make any sense" on paper, but it turned out to be an inspired move. "One of the great skills of the Duffers and of our show, I think, is trying pairings that we've never done before," Levy said on the Behind The Scenes: Stranger Things 3 podcast (via PopBuzz).

Maya Hawke 'resisted' becoming an actor

When your parents are Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, people automatically assume that you're also going to become an actor, but their first-born was initially hesitant to follow in their footsteps. "I resisted it a little bit because it was the family business, until I realized that it made me the most happy and that it was what I was the best at," Maya Hawke told WWD. At one stage she considered going to college to study English, but she ultimately decided that nothing could match the thrill she got from acting. "I didn't like studying for my SAT, didn't like writing essays, but I felt so alive and capable in the theater at my school, and how do you say no to that?"

Both her mom and her dad expressed their joy via their respective Instagram accounts when she made her debut on Stranger Things, but they were probably just being supportive, right? Not according to Maya. "I know my parents don't B.S. me," she said during an appearance on The Jenny McCarthy Show. "They're pretty rigorous in terms of their commentary when they like something or don't." Her folks are clearly thrilled that she's making an impact in the industry, but Maya insists that she was never forced into acting. "There was no pressure," she added. "It was that I loved [acting] more than anything else."

Maya Hawke writes and performs her own songs

Acting is the biggest love in her life, but Maya Hawke also likes to write music. The Stranger Things star put on her first public performance in 2019, bringing her brand of folksy jazz to New York's Rockwood Music Hall. "I'm more nervous about it than any other part of my life," she told WWD. "I'm not trying to say I'm an awesome musician or anything like that — I'm not. But I love music and I love lyrics and songwriting. ... People aren't that interested in poetry these days, but lyrics are a way to present poetry to the world where they know how to take it in and how to absorb it."

Music is also an essential part of Stranger Things. The show blends classic '80s tunes with an original, synth-laden score, and for the most part it works brilliantly (some of the musical choices in Season 3 were a little too on-the-nose, according to MixMag). When Hawke sat down for a quick chat with Consequence of Sound in 2019, she revealed that her character, Robin, prefers music from the previous two decades. "She would love Patti Smith and Bob Dylan. Joan Jett and The Runaways. I think she has some nostalgia for '60s and '70s rock."

When it comes to style, Maya Hawke is no flippant fashionista

Maya Hawke always looks well put together, but when it comes to fashion, she isn't your typical rich girl. When The Sydney Morning Herald asked which designers she was wearing during the interview, she refused to say. "This isn't how I normally dress," Hawke insisted. "I'm going to a birthday party, so I'm kind of dressed up. These are my mum's clothes — I stole them. And I don't want to be written about as this girl who's wearing this ridiculously expensive outfit." She told the Australian outlet that she usually opts for a stripy t-shirt and double denim, a style she described as "an attempt at a contemporary Annie Hall."

Like most women her age, Hawke does care about how she looks, but "in a way that is about comfort and practicality," she explained. "I always want to look like me." While she takes inspiration from the eponymous character in Woody Allen's Annie Hall (played by Diane Keaton), Hawke also has a real-life style icon — her Little Women co-star, Angela Lansbury. "She is 92 years old and full of energy, and she is beautiful," Hawke told Vogue in 2017. "Her face is still her face. She dresses awesome, and she has been working as an actress forever — ever since she was doing vaudeville with her mum."

You can follow Maya Hawke on the Gram ... finally

Speaking with The Sydney Morning Herald in 2017, Maya Hawke revealed that unlike the vast majority of her peers, she wasn't really that into social media. "I'm not particularly interested in my phone," she admitted. "I'm interested in human contact. I think phones have created a certain social incapacity; it's made people socially deficient. And if it's fun to spend time alone, then there's not the incentive to go out and meet people and make yourself vulnerable." Her Instagram account was private at the time, but (either because she realized interacting with fans was important or simply because she had a change of heart) she later went public.

The actress has become a star on the platform, thanks in no small part to her casting in Stranger Things. "I wasn't aware of how insanely popular [the show] was," she told Vulture in 2018. "It got announced and I got, like, 40,000 Instagram followers in, like, 30 seconds. I didn't expect that to happen. I don't think I'll fully understand what kind of impact it will have on my life until after it comes out." When Season 3 of Stranger Things dropped on July 4, 2019, she experienced an ever bigger surge — over 2 million people now follow her exploits on Instagram.