Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things, duh) has been looking for a British character to play and she, with the help of her sister Paige, found it in a book by author Nancy Springer. Enola Holmes, Sherlock Holmes’ spirited younger sister.
PCMA (Millie’s family’s production company) and Legendary Pictures have adapted the first book in the six-mystery series “The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer” into a fantastic (and refreshingly feminist) film which also stars Henry Cavill as Sherlock, Sam Claflin as Mycroft and Helena Bonham Carter as Enola’s mother Eudoria. The film is directed by Harry Bradbeer (Fleabag, Killing Eve).
Enola Holmes begins streaming on Netflix on September 23. It’s exciting, it’s fun, and as early as now, people have been predicting that this will become the next big franchise. We think so too.
Here’s our conversation with Millie about her new film.
How has your thinking on women’s rights and empowerment evolved over the years?
Before this, before getting into the acting and film industry I was never just educated enough to know much about women’s rights because you don’t really get taught that in school which is kind of kind of crazy. But what I will say is, when getting into the film industry and working on “Stranger Things,” I started becoming more exposed to other projects, and I was going on more sets. I was meeting new people and I definitely found myself in situations where I felt like I wasn’t getting equal opportunity as other people. And so I started to experience it myself. And I started to realize that it was also because of my gender, because of my age and because of experience and I hated that that’s what was holding me back because I wanted to do what everyone else was doing, and I couldn’t get to because I wasn’t old enough, or I didn’t have enough experience, or I was just simply a girl. Filming this film gave me the empowerment, to be able to talk about sexism, especially in this industry.
You’re also a producer in the film for the very first time. How was that experience for you?
it was incredibly rewarding to be able to star in this film and also be part of the production. I had a great opportunity and obviously I took it. I believe that we should have more young female filmmakers out there on sets. I love the production side of filming so I was all up for it. And of course there were struggles at times, but it’s a new life experience and I had so much fun.
What edge does Enola have over Sherlock? What sets her sleuthing skills apart from his?
They’re two very different detectives because Sherlock is one to sit back and observe and take notes, and Enola is more observant but she will get it done herself. She doesn’t wait, she’s not patient. And she really isn’t afraid of anything which gets her into trouble but ultimately makes her stronger. I think they’re two very different detectives in their own right, equally as successful.
How similar are you to Enola?
Enola and I share many similarities. Enola is very brave. She’s also very honest. Her humor is the exact same as mine. We have a heart, we care a lot and she values her family and that’s the same as me.
Enola celebrated her coming of age in the film and you also turned 16 this year. How did you draw from your own personal experience trying to portray a young character, finding her place and inadvertently creating change in society?
This is a coming of age story about a young girl finding her purpose in life. And as you all know, to be a young girl in an industry, it can be difficult to find your place. Because I’m also very busy, it’s very hard to take that time to show myself self-love and self-care. So when filming this, I definitely learned that, you know, it’s okay to do that and find your purpose. So it’s actually my coming of age story as well Enola’s. So we were both really going on a journey together.
The film is a period piece. How did your wardrobe inform your characterization of Enola?
First of all we had an incredible costume designer Consolata (Boyle) who created these looks. You had the red dress when she said, “A lady!” Or the moment where she says “The game is afoot.” That’s a line that Sherlock says all the time and she’s wearing a Sherlock look. And then obviously you have the widow look. Those are her disguises. I loved that about the film, I loved that she dressed up and so our costume designer really dug deep in finding these looks that just kind of took my breath away when I first tried them on. But my favorite one that was probably the Sherlock look just because it was the most comfortable and because I loved the fact that she was wearing something masculine and that she enjoyed it.
What was the most enjoyable part of filming for you?
The most enjoyable part of filming this was finding myself and probably working with the actors that I got to work with and working with Harry Bradbeer. Working with Harry was one of the most special moments of my whole career. He really gave me such a free rein on exploring myself as an actor, and I genuinely think it changed me. And so having that opportunity I’ll be forever grateful to him and working with, you know, every single actor I worked with on this film was also, you know, a big favorite of mine.
How did you juggle producing and acting in the film? Did you focus solely on this film?
I was fully focused on the film. I was solely focused on getting this done. If I wasn’t on set, I was probably at the production office, talking with Harry, or in meetings, so I definitely felt like the producer, which was very exciting. With every project I do I always tell my team, you know when I’m working, I’m working, I want to focus on one thing at a time so I can do my best. And that’s what we did with this film. We took off this certain amount of time, so that I could fully focus and then I took off time after so that I can heal my body from the work that I did. You guys know it can be exhausting working as much as you love it, you put a lot of time and effort into it so you obviously need to repay yourself and give yourself back the time you lost. So I went on a really nice vacation with my family afterwards and spent lots of time with them, because I think I missed so much time, I was always at work.
Can you talk about the fight scenes? What was it like filming them?
The stunts were more just fun than anything because I was the one pressuring everyone saying, “Let me do it, let me do it” and they were like “No no no no no” and I was like, “Please let me do it. I want to fly kick the air.” And they were like, “but you need to film tomorrow.” I’m like, “I don’t care. Hi-ya!” The stunts for me were just very very fun. I was actually never tired while doing stunts, it was more the emotional scenes and the dialogue that would drain me. You know, Enola never stopped talking, similar to me, and I was always very tired at the end of the day, but the stunts were easy, that was the easy part.
The reviews have been positive. Do you have any concerns before it came out before your film came out?
You know what, I don’t get nervous about things like that, because you got to think of it like this. Once you make something, you’ve made it. There’s no going back. There’s no changing it. As much as I watch myself and say I wish I didn’t do that or I wish I didn’t blink at that moment because I could have made that 10 times better. Or I wish I didn’t cry at that moment or I wish my comedic timing was better at that moment. You’re gonna sit there and do that all day long. I am genuinely so proud of this film and there is not one moment where I sat and questioned anything or was concerned because what I know is that we made something, a real collaborative effort, Harry Bradbeer and Ali Mendes, and pretty much every single cast member that put 10 out of 10 effort in this film. For me this is my masterpiece. If you love it, I’m so happy and if you don’t, I’m sorry, but this is genuinely, one of the most exciting parts of my life. I’ve had to keep this secret from everyone for a really long time, but I haven’t been concerned one bit, because at the end of the day I know I’m proud of it. My parents are proud of it. And my little sister Ava doesn’t stop saying, “Let’s watch Enola again, let’s watch Enola again.” I’m like, “Ava, no I can’t listen to my voice anymore. Stop it now. We go to bed.” And she’s like, “Can we just watch it?” That’s pretty good. I don’t need to be concerned. She likes it, which means I think it’s good.
How was it working with the other cast members?
Henry and Sam are very seasoned directors they’ve worked in many things that I’ve loved and admired. They’re very funny people. Sam is a very funny man that never stops joking. Until one day, we did that that really intense scene when he says, “You are my ward, you must do as you’re told!” and I was like, “Oh, Sam. Sam. I was like, okay.” I worked with these very different human beings that are incredibly talented and kind. They really let me feel very comfortable around them.. It was a collaborative effort so working with them was just definitely an experience that I will remember and they’re very good guys. They’re successful for a reason.
Who are your women inspirations?
I have a mum that is very much like Eudoria. She’s very liberal and laidback, and very open and genuinely just one of the kindest people that I’ll ever meet. I tend to find myself looking for friends that are like my mum, you know, because she’s just so cool. I mean, I literally just want to be my mum. And so for me I think she’s the biggest role model out there, and her mum, my nan is one of the most important people in my life as a woman that went through World War II and lost many, many of her family and friends. Her stories always moved me and inspired me and she was one of my biggest role models in my whole life. Explaining the plot story to my nan, who has Alzheimers, I would say, “Nanny, so I’m playing Sherlock Holmes’ little sister.” And she goes, “Sherlock Holmes has a little sister?” I was like, “I know. That’s what I said.” I would tell her I was wearing a corset and she told me about how she would wear those, “Oh corset, they’re so uncomfortable.” I loved talking to her about it. She lived in a place called Bethnal Green her whole life. And in the film, Bethnal Green was one of the ciphers and it felt like my grandma was in the film so I was very very touched. I have incredible women guiding me through life. Those are my two biggest supporters and the people that I’ve genuinely grown up wanting to be.