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Millie Bobby Brown Is No Damsel in Distress

The star speaks to ‘InStyle’ about her new twisted fairy tale film ‘Damsel.’

<p>Michael Schwartz/Netflix</p>

Michael Schwartz/Netflix

Millie Bobby Brown is personally a fan of fairy tales, but her new Netflix film Damsel is not your average bedtime story. There are no knights in shining armor or ivory towers, and although Brown’s character Elodie classifies as a young lady in distress, no one is coming to rescue her.

“I think there's something so beautiful and magical about fairy tales, and I grew up loving fairy tales. There's something about princesses and unicorns that helped me feel relaxed,” Brown tells InStyle before explaining that real life often shatters our delusional fantasies. “But, as you grow up, you start to go, Well, I get my period and that’s bad. Cars sometimes don't start. Hold on a second; not everything is perfect.”

<p>Netflix</p>

Netflix

“I think that is what this movie truly embodies,” Brown continues, explaining that Damsel mirrors life’s rock bottom moments, times when things aren’t all rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies. ”There is a sense of fairytale in it, but, of course, some of those fairytales go wrong and this one does.”

In the film, available to stream today, Brown’s character Elodie is thrown into a dark, forlorn cave to be eaten (or burnt to a crisp) by a vengeful dragon after her arranged marriage to a young prince is revealed to be a murderous ploy. What begins with the makings of your standard period drama — including a star-studded cast made up of Angela Bassett, Robin Wright, Nick Robinson, and more — turns into a heart-pounding thriller with blood, guts, and creepily confined spaces. (Things go from Bridgerton to Game of Thrones real quick.)

For a large portion of the movie, Brown is alone on the screen, crawling through the dank cave, reminiscent of claustrophobic survival films like The Descent and 127 Hours. Except Brown did it all in a regency-style gown with a wired hoop skirt, corseted midsection, and quintessential puffy princess sleeves. By the end of the film, her dress has become a sleeveless, asymmetrical minidress consisting of tattered strands of fabric.

<p>Netflix</p>

Netflix

Below, Brown discusses feeling like an “only child” on set, how she relates to Elodie, and what it was like working with the iconic Bassett.

This film is completely unexpected and unlike any other quote-unquote fairy tale. What was your reaction when reading the script?

I find it really hard to imagine things when they're on paper, because most of my career has been with tennis balls, green screens, and things that aren't really there, [like in] Stranger Things and Godzilla. On paper, I still can't imagine what it's going to look like, and then when you watch it, you're like, Wow, that's scary. How did I do that? And it's like, Well, no, you didn't really do that. There was a tennis ball. 

I think for all viewers and audiences, whatever you go into it thinking, the whole movie will change your perception after, and it'll make you think. I love movies that make you think and really question your own values, morals, and what you believe in. I love that, and I think it only adds meaning and depth to the film. I was really drawn to that part of the film.

How is Elodie different from other characters you've played in the past?

The development process with Elodie was one of the most challenging parts of this because I wanted to bring depth and I wanted viewers to feel unsettled. They don't truly know her. They never really will know her, and I think there's a sense of mystery to that. I play a lot of characters that are very open. You know what Eleven's feeling most of the time. You know what Enola is [thinking] because she says it probably. I wanted to bring depth, and I wanted viewers to feel unsettled. They don't truly know her. They never really will know her. I think there's a sense of mystery to that. There's a sense of, "What is Elodie gonna do?"

In what ways are you similar to Elodie?

I wanted to bring parts of myself to her. I really love how direct she is. That is definitely who I am. There's also a sense of love for her family and a sense of duty, honor, and respect that I really love about her and taught me a lot about what I really want to instill in my life.

What was it like filming so much of the movie alone?

I had worked with so many huge casts and ensembles, and it's like being an only child, but being an only actor on this film. You're like, Wait, if I mess up my line, I have to start again. Or if I get sick or hurt, there's no one that you can fall back on. On Stranger Things and on many projects, I'm able to do that. But on this, it's you and you only. That was kind of difficult, because there's a lot of pressure.

I feel like it changed my perception on how important crew members are. For so long I was like, There's the cast and there's the crew. On this film I was like, Oh, no the cameraman is my co-star. The sound guy who constantly checks my mic is my co-star. The person who puts down my mark is my co-star. The guy who edits is my co-star. I felt like I'm not alone in this, and there is a team behind me that's pushing me. I'm not working for the camera, I'm working with the camera, with the set.

How was it working with the iconic Angela Bassett?

When she steps onto the set, her professionalism really takes over. Just her presence is so striking, and it is such a wonderful experience to work with her. For me, the way I learned was just observing her and watching her and the way she works, communicates, and creates. I truly felt like it was one of the best career moments just to be able to watch somebody that you were so inspired by growing up and then you're able to work alongside them. It was a dream come true.

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Read the original article on InStyle.