‘Stranger Things’: Millie Bobby Brown Says Eleven Has ‘Serious Stockholm Syndrome’

Millie Bobby Brown has been playing the part of Eleven on Stranger Things since she was 10 years old. Brown, now 18, returned to the role for season 4. As the actor is entering adulthood, she has been able to address and understand some of the more complicated aspects of her character’s psyche. Brown discussed Eleven’s abusive relationship with her father figure Dr. Brenner throughout the series.

Matthew Modine as Dr. Martin Brenner and Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things Season 4. Dr. Brenner sits with Eleven at Hawkins Lab.
Matthew Modine as Dr. Martin Brenner and Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in ‘Stranger Things’ | Netflix

Millie Bobby Brown worked with Martie Blair on her Eleven scenes

Stranger Things Season 4 took a deep dive into Eleven’s past when she was still living at Hawkins Lab. Millie Bobby Brown performed most of these scenes in Stranger Things since they are being viewed through Eleven’s memories. However, in some instances, 9-year-old Martie Blair stood in as Eleven and her face was later digitally replaced with Brown’s in post-production.

Brown made sure to be there for the young actor as she tackled the role of 9-year-old Eleven. “It was really important for me to help her through that because I didn’t really have anyone helping me through who Eleven was going to be. I would come to set before my scenes and direct her through everything. I would hide behind the wall and scream with her when she got anxious about screaming to do my powers,” Brown said in an interview with Variety.

Brown says Eleven has Stockholm Syndrome in ‘Stranger Things’

Millie Bobby Brown was only 10 years old herself when she first appeared in Stranger Things. While speaking with Variety, the actor admits that her character was going through a trauma that she didn’t fully understand when she was a young child first taking up the role.

“Because she was raised in an asylum with a man that she isn’t biologically related to, but emotionally and psychologically attached and connected to, she does suffer with serious Stockholm Syndrome,” the actor said.

“I didn’t know this when I was 10 years old, because nobody would have explained that to me — and nor did I probably need to know. But now being 17, going back to that 10-year-old self, I’ve learned all of this new information about Eleven. So I got to bring a whole new dynamic and perception to Eleven that I had never been able to explore because of how young I was.”

The man Brown is referring to is Dr. Brenner, who performed experiments on children with special abilities. These children referred to him as “Papa.”

“This person who hurts her, Papa, he also loves her the most. And facing him again, in this relationship that is so destructive and so painful, was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do within the show,” Brown said.

What is Stockholm Syndrome?

According to myclevelandclinic.org, Stockholm syndrome is a “coping mechanism to a captive or abusive situation. People develop positive feelings toward their captors or abusers over time.” In Eleven’s circumstance, she and the other children are stripped from their families and instructed to refer to Dr. Brenner as Papa.

Eleven clearly wants to impress Dr. Brenner with her supernatural abilities, despite the fact that she is his prisoner. She later displays many other symptoms associated with Stockholm syndrome, including flashbacks and feeling distrustful, irritated, jittery, or anxious.

All episodes of Stranger Things are currently streaming on Netflix.

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