Stranger Things 4: Sadie Sink on Understanding Max, Confronting Vecna

Sadie Sink has become one of the biggest stars of Stranger Things since the third season. At the season's conclusion, her character Max lost her brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery) at the hands of the Mind Flayer. We learn at the beginning of season four that she's still mourning losing him and suffers from PTSD from recurring nightmares. She's also grown socially distant from the Hawkins gang with her home life even worse with an aloof alcoholic mother and a father who abandoned them. Sink spoke with The Hollywood Reporter on Max's trauma, Billy, and her confrontations with the Vecna on the Duffer Brothers' series.

Stranger Things 4: Sadie Sink on Max's Climactic Scenes & Vecna
STRANGER THINGS. Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

"There's really no real way to prepare yourself. When I'm on set, that's usually when it all sets in, and intuition kind of kicks in," Sink said on if she did any prepping before filming season four. "But, for this year, I thought it was important to really understand Max's innermost thoughts — because she's definitely not an open book. So it's hard for her friends, her family, and the audience members to really know what's going on up there. I thought it was important that, in my own time, I did some daydreaming, journaling, whatever; just some internal thought and reflection on everything that she's been through, and everything going on up there to bring some colors to the table. Not everyone has to know what [is going through her head], but I did that for my own sense of security and to feel like I'm in touch with the character as much as I can."

Stranger Things
STRANGER THINGS. (L to R) Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield, and Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Montgomery filmed a cameo in volume one opposite Sink but had to do so remotely due to the pandemic. "That was definitely the most challenging [scene] I think I've ever had to do on 'Stranger Things' just because so much of Max and Billy's relationship comes from the onscreen chemistry that me and Dacre have," she said. "Being used to working with him and reading with him for two seasons now, and then having to do a really important scene with him but not have him there, was definitely very tricky. I definitely did get a little frustrated when I was on set, but I think I kind of channeled it into the scene as much as I could and ended up getting, I think, a pretty good result — and obviously, the visual effects team really stepped in and made it look as realistic as possible."

Stranger Things 4: Sadie Sink on Understanding Max, Confronting Vecna
STRANGER THINGS. Vecna Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Sink also broke down her scenes with the Vecna, played by Jamie Campbell Bower, and how the costume became an intimidating presence on set. "Well, I think two things come into play when it comes to the believability of Vecna. The first just being the prosthetics and having it be mostly practical effects were really helpful," she said. "We're so used to working with stunt guys and stunt-women in green bodies and tennis balls in their hands, or something like that, so having Jamie actually there was very helpful because he was genuinely just horrifying. It's just not normal what you're looking at, so you're kind of tricking your mind in a way, and it makes stepping into Max's shoes that much easier."

stranger things
STRANGER THINGS. (L to R) Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley, Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield, and Joe Keery as Steve Harrington in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

The actress credits Bower for going the extra mile. "But also, I think the biggest part is that you can put anyone in that costume and they can be scary, but with Jamie, he was so in it all the time, not only when the cameras were rolling," Sink explains. "He liked to kind of stay in character a lot, and there would be times and longer setups and stuff where he would filter in and out of it, but for a lot of the Mind Lair stuff, there was not a lot of talking going on between us. It was mostly just him as Vecna, standing in the corner and like growling or something like that, and he was just very, very, in it. And he would kind of talk in that voice a lot. So to have someone as committed as Jamie in a role like that, just made it really believable. I think that was probably the key."

For more on how Sink had to dig deeper to handle her increased emotional responsibility in Stranger Things season four, the episode "Dear Billy", Max's final letters to her loved ones, what she can tease in volume two and season five, and more, you can check out the interview here. Volume two premieres on July 1st.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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