Review: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong,’ starring Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Julian Dennison and Demián Bichir

March 29, 2021

by Carla Hay

Godzilla and King Kong in “Godzilla vs. Kong” (Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures)

“Godzilla vs. Kong”

Directed by Adam Wingard

Culture Representation: Taking place in various other parts of the world, the action flick “Godzilla vs. Kong” features a racially diverse cast (white people, African Americans, Asians and Latinos) who are part of the scientific community, corporate business or are underage students.

Culture Clash: Gigantic monster enemies Godzilla and King Kong cross paths, while some greedy corporate people want to exploit the monsters’ power sources in order to make deadly weapons.

Culture Audience: “Godzilla vs. Kong” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of “Godzilla” and “King Kong” movies and don’t care if the story is badly written, sloppily directed and populated with hollow human characters.

Alexander Skarsgård, Rebecca Hall and Kaylee Hottle in “Godzilla vs. Kong” (Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures)

The tedious and atrociously made train wreck that is “Godzilla vs. Kong” probably will please people who have extremely low standards for action flicks. But considering that several superhero movies have proven that action movies can be entertaining spectacles with distinct and memorable characters, there’s really no excuse for why “Godzilla vs. Kong” stinks more than any toxic excrement that can be expelled from these fictional monsters’ bodies. “Godzilla vs. Kong” is the epitome of a “cash grab” film that lazily exploits the nostalgic brand names of beloved creature feature films. In “Godzilla vs. Kong,” the filmmakers do almost nothing to create intriguing characters that can exist in a cinematic art form.

Directed by Adam Wingard and written by Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein, “Godzilla vs. Kong” takes an annoying amount of time building up to the inevitable fight scenes described in the movie’s title. The filmmakers inexplicably overstuffed the movie with a lot of characters that barely do anything except act egotistical (if they’re the villains) or look anxious (if they’re the heroes). The human characters who are involved in the most action and decision making in the movie are reduced to spouting idiotic dialogue that makes the monsters in the movie look more intelligent.

Yes, it’s another movie about a creature that threatens to destroy the world, while humans think they can stop the destruction in time, and the greedy ones think they can get rich off of this crisis. That’s pretty much the plot of every movie about Godzilla, King Kong or other giant monster. Pitting two supersized titan monsters against each other should raise the stakes even higher, but “Godzilla vs. Kong” fails in delivering an enjoyable story and has an ending that falls very flat. The movie’s visual effects from Luma Pictures are adequate but not outstanding.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” begins with King Kong living in a biodome on Skull Island, where he is being observed by scientists for research. Leading the team of scientists is Dr. Ilene Andrews (played by Rebecca Hall), who is a single mother to an adopted deaf/mute daughter named Jia (played by Kaylee Hottle), who’s about 9 or 10 years old. Apparently, Ilene cares more about her research than the safety of her underage daughter. Jia is allowed to be in many completely dangerous situations that would be more than enough for child protective services to get involved.

But dumb movies like “Godzilla vs. Kong” pander to the lowest common denominator by showing people with horrific parenting skills and acting as if nothing is wrong with it. And if that means making it look like kids should be allowed to be in the line of fire and actively fighting these monstrous and deadly creatures, then so be it. Kaylee and some of the other underage characters in “Godzilla vs. Kong” are portrayed as having uncanny knowledge and skills that the adults don’t possess. It’s just more pandering to a kiddie audience or people with a child’s mentality.

The movie (which was filmed in Hawaii and Australia) jumps all over the place in a haphazard manner, but here are the main locations in the film:

  • Skull Island, where King Kong lives until he’s brought out of hiding for reasons explained in the movie. It’s also where Ilene and her daughter Jia live until they decide to travel to wherever Kong will be relocated.
  • Apex Cybernetics, a high-tech corporation in Pensacola, Florida, is involved in cybertechnology related to military defense weapons. The CEO of Apex is a typical money-hungry villain named Walter Simmons (played by Demián Bichir), who has a conniving daughter named Maya Simmons (played by Eiza González), who wants to take over the business someday. Walter’s loyal right-hand henchman is Apex chief technology officer Ren Serizawa (played by Shun Oguri). Apex also has an engineer named Bernie Hayes (played by Brian Tyree Henry), who ends up becoming a whistleblower.
  • Monarch Relief Camp, also in Pensacola, is the temporary home of refugees who were displaced by the destruction caused in the 2019 movie “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” It’s where divorced dad Mark Russell (played by Kyle Chandler), a former Monarch animal behavior and communication specialist, works to help refugees. Mark has a headstrong and independent teenage daughter named Madison (played by Millie Bobby Brown), who wants to follow in his footsteps as scientist who studies animals.
  • Denham University of Theoretical Science is a think tank in Philadelphia where the workaholic and underappreciated Dr. Nathan Lind (played by Alexander Skarsgård) is working on a top-secret theory/experiment. Aren’t they all in movies like this one?
  • Hong Kong, where some of the characters in the story take a rocket, because apparently it’s not enough just to have transportation by planes, ships, trains or automobiles.
  • Tokyo, because you shouldn’t have a Godzilla movie without Godzilla fighting in Tokyo.
  • Hollow Earth, a place somewhere below the earth’s surface that was discovered in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” This location also plays a major role in “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

In “Godzilla vs. Kong,” King Kong somehow got access to a javelin (it’s never explained how), and like an Olympic champ, he throws it at the sky while he’s on Skull Island. The javelin pierces the biodome ceiling, so that’s how King Kong finds out that the world he’s been living in has been hermetically sealed.

You know what that means. King Kong becomes restless because he knows he belongs somewhere else. It isn’t long before Ilene and the rest of the scientists find out that King Kong has literally cracked their carefully constructed façade.

Ilene comments about King Kong to a co-worker named Ben (played by Chris Chalk): “The habitat is not going to hold him much longer.” Ben replies, “We need to think about off-site solutions.” Ilene then says, “The island is the one thing that’s kept him isolated. If he leaves, Godzilla will come for him. There can’t be two alpha titans.” Oh yes, there can, or else this movie wouldn’t exist.

The decision is made to move Kong out of Skull Island. King Kong is tranquilized and strapped to a cargo ship. And you just know that tranquilizer is going to eventually wear off. Somehow, Kong’s energy is sensed by Godzilla, who comes out of hibernation from deep in the ocean. Godzilla goes on a rampage in trying to find Kong. It’s all just filler until these two creatures face off against one another.

What does this have to do with Apex? The company has discovered a subterranean ecosystem that’s as “fast as any ocean light.” It has an energy life force that Apex wants to find in order to make a weapon that will defeat Godzilla.

Nathan, a former Monarch employee, says that he tried and failed to find the mysterious Hollow Earth entry. He believes in genetic memory, a theory that says all titans share a common impulse to return to their evolutionary source. Nathan wants to tag along with Ilene and her crew to find the power source that’s in Hollow Earth.

But since “Godzilla vs. Kong” isn’t interested in keeping things simple with only essential characters, there are more people who want to get to Hollow Earth too. There are the Apex villains, of course. And then there’s a motley trio that’s meant to be the movie’s comic relief but they end up saying a lot of corny lines and getting into stereotypical slapstick predicaments.

This trio consists of Apex engineer Bernie, who’s decided he’s going to expose Apex’s dastardly plans; teenage Madison, who apparently skips school so she can save the world in “Godzilla” movies; and her schoolmate Josh Valentine (played by Julian Dennison), who’s the type of character that Dennison is known to play in movies: a sarcastic brat. Josh is also the clownish “klutz” of the group who’s prone to be more terrified than the others. Meanwhile, Bernie sometimes acts like he’s a uttering lines that were rejected from a bad stand-up comedy act.

How did Bernie get mixed up with these kids? Bernie is the host of a podcast called the Titan Trade Podcast, where he spouts “insider” conspiracy theories about Apex but doesn’t reveal his true identity. Even though Bernie’s voice and his irritating motormouth personality would be recognizable to his Apex co-workers on this podcast (Bernie makes no effort to disguise his voice), the movie wants people to believe that Bernie’s been able to keep his podcast identity a secret while he’s spilling confidential company information to the world.

“Something bad is going in here,” Bernie warns in one of his podcast episodes. He says that he’s going to download evidence of a “vast” corporate conspiracy. “It’s more than a leak. It’s a flood,” he adds. “And this flood is going to wash away all of Apex’s lies.” And with that announcement, Bernie essentially tells the world that he’s a company whistleblower, without thinking that the company could possibly catch on to his exposé plan before he actually does it. So dumb.

Madison listens to the podcast and essentially drags a reluctant Josh along when they meet Bernie. Madison uses Josh because he has a car and she doesn’t. As if to put an emphasis on how Bernie is the “out of touch” adult in this trio, he has a very outdated flip phone that he uses a lot in the movie. It might be some type of weird irony that a guy who works as an engineer at a highly advanced tech company doesn’t even have a smartphone, but it just makes Bernie look even more dimwitted, considering all the benefits of a smartphone that he would need on this mission.

Because “Godzilla vs. Kong” is meant to be a family-friendly film, there are the obligatory sappy moments to make it look like this isn’t just a movie with fights and explosions. Jia has an emotional bond with King Kong that’s intended to tug at people’s heartstrings, because somehow she’s taught him sign language without her mother knowing. Ilene eventually finds out, but you have to wonder how much of neglectful parent Ilene must be if she let her daughter spend enough time alone with King Kong that Ilene didn’t know that Jia has now become King Kong’s personal American Sign Language tutor. Kids these days.

And while this awful movie whips around from place to place like flea in search of a mangy dog, somehow the filmmakers forgot to have any meaningful story arc for Madison’s father Mark (who was a protagonist in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”), who is completely sidelined in “Godzilla vs. Kong.” The parents in this movie are insultingly portrayed as incapable of making truly effective decisions unless the kids show them the right way.

There’s nothing wrong with precocious kid characters, but not at the expense of making the adults with years of scientific knowledge look clueless next to kids who haven’t even graduated from high school yet. The movie completely undervalues and dismisses the life experiences of adults whenever the kid characters are in the same scene. It’s why “Godzilla vs. Kong” has the mentality of video game or a cartoon instead of a live-action movie.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” doesn’t even bother giving the villains anything memorable about their personalities, which is what all worthwhile “good vs. evil” stories are supposed to do. Heroes often have bland, interchangeable personalities, but villains are the ones who are supposed to get the biggest audience reactions in these stories. And audiences like to see some of the clever ways that villains make mischief. None of that happens in “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

There could have been so much improvement to the movie’s lackluster human interactions if the villains were compelling. Walter is very generic, Ren doesn’t talk much, and Maya is a completely unnecessary character. All of the actors in “Godzilla vs. Kong” give performances like they know they’re in a movie where they don’t have to show much acting talent and it’s all about the paychecks they’re getting.

As for the Godzilla vs. King Kong fight scenes that come too late in the movie, they are extremely predictable but at least better than the witless dialogue that the audience has to endure whenever the movie’s scenes focus only on the humans. In order for a monster movie to have the most impact, viewers should care not just about the fight scenes but also about the people whose lives are in danger. And in that regard, “Godzilla vs. Kong” stomps out a lot of humanity to distract viewers with CGI action that isn’t even that great in the first place.

Warner Bros. Pictures will release “Godzilla vs. Kong” in U.S. cinemas and on HBO Max on March 31, 2021. The movie was released in several countries outside of the U.S. on March 25 and March 26, 2021.

Review: ‘Enola Holmes,’ starring Millie Bobby Brown, Sam Claflin, Henry Cavill and Helena Bonham Carter

January 17, 2021

by Carla Hay

Henry Cavill, Millie Bobby Brown and Sam Claflin in “Enola Holmes” (Photo by Robert Viglaski/Legendary/Netflix)

“Enola Holmes”

Directed by Harry Bradbeer

Culture Representation: Taking place in England in 1884, the dramatic mystery thriller “Enola Holmes” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few black people and Asians) representing the working-class, middle-class, wealthy and criminal underground.

Culture Clash: Sherlock Holmes’ teenage sister Enola Holmes, who is determined to outsmart Sherlock and solve the mystery of their missing mother, ends up getting entangled in another mystery of a teenage lord who is the target of an assassination plot.

Culture Audience: “Enola Holmes” will appeal primarily to fans of Sherlock Holmes and the stars of this movie, as well as to people who are interested in a feminist-leaning perspective on mystery stories.

Millie Bobby Brown and Helena Bonham Carter in “Enola Holmes” (Photo by Alex Bailey/Legendary/Netflix)

“Enola Holmes” vibrantly does justice to the mystery book series for which it is named, thanks to a splendid cast and a twist-filled, engaging adventure that will leave viewers wanting more “Enola Holmes” movies. There’s a lot to like about this cinematic adaption of the book “The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery,” written by Nancy Springer as part of the “Enola Holmes” mystery book series. The “Enola Holmes” movie (directed by Harry Bradbeer and written by Jack Thorne) offers a dashing and often socially conscious interpretation of what it would be like to be a female teenage sleuth in 1880s England while navigating a patriarchal society that constantly underestimates her or tries to undermine her.

In the movie, Enola Holmes (played Millie Bobby Brown, who is one of the producers of “Enola Holmes”) is trying to establish her identity as a detective, apart from her older brother Sherlock Holmes, who’s a famous detective. Enola has been raised by her eccentric, non-conformist widowed mother named Eudoria (played by Helena Bonham Carter, mostly in flashbacks), who has taught Enola not to let her gender prevent her from learning things that have been traditionally male-dominated, such as math, science and martial arts. Eudoria has been enthusiastically training and homeschooling Enola in these male-dominated fields.

The words “feminist” and “free-thinking” are never said in the movie, but it’s a life outlook that Eudoria is teaching Enola to have. The movie takes place in 1884 England, and by this particular society’s standards, Enola is considered a bit of a “wild child” because she’s not very interested in traditionally feminine things or looking prim and proper. For example, Enola often wears her long hair in a way that was considered very un-ladylike at the time: by letting her hair loose and without pinning it up or wearing a hat.

Throughout the movie, Enola talks directly to the audience, as if she’s letting viewers into her own private thoughts. It’s a creative decision that works well in the movie, for the most part, especially when it comes to showing Enola’s comedic sarcasm. However, there are times when this “breaking the fourth wall” technique gets a tad grating because it disrupts the flow of a scene and takes viewers, however briefly, out of the scene’s intended tone.

On Enola’s 16th birthday, Eudoria mysteriously disappears with no indication of where she has gone. Enola, who has a very close relationship with Eudoria, suspects that Eudoria has not been kidnapped. Eudoria was very private and liked to keep secrets. Enola is determined to find her mother and get to the truth.

But before she can start investigating, Enola (who is the youngest of three children) is horrified when she’s told that because of Eudoria’s disappearance, Enola now has to be in the custody of one of her older bachelor brothers: middle child Sherlock Holmes or eldest child Mycroft Holmes, who are both about twice the age of Enola. Sherlock and Mycroft left home when Enola was very young and never really visited. Therefore, she barely knows them.

In fact, Sherlock and Mycroft haven’t seen Enola since she was a prepubescent child. When she goes to meet Mycroft and Sherlock at the train station, they don’t even recognize Enola at first. In a private meeting that Mycroft and Sherlock had before reuniting with Enola, Mycroft (who is greedy, bossy and very snobbish) agreed to take custody of Enola because he has an ulterior motive: He wants possession of the house where Enola grew up, in case their mother has permanently vanished.

Sherlock (who is even-tempered, analytical and usually compassionate) is somewhat relieved that he won’t have the responsibility of taking care of Enola. His true love is his detective work, and taking care of a rebellious teenage sister doesn’t fit into his lifestyle. Mycroft doesn’t really want to have Enola live with him either, so he immediately makes plans to send her to a boarding school. The school is headed by an uptight middle-aged spinster named Miss Harrison (played by Fiona Shaw), who is infatuated with Mycroft and will do anything he asks her to do.

Mycroft makes it clear to Enola that he doesn’t respect Enola or the way that their mother raised Enola. It’s revealed later in the movie that Mycroft was cruel to their mother, which is one of the reasons why Eudoria didn’t seem to mind that she hadn’t seen him for years. Mycroft mentions the difficulty of finding a boarding school that won’t consider Enola a “complete failure.” Mycroft adds, “With Miss Harrison’s help, we’ll make [Enola] acceptable to society.”

Enola’s first meeting with Miss Harrison doesn’t go well at all. Enola defiantly tells her, “I don’t need to go to your ridiculous school!” In return, Miss Harrison slaps Enola in the face. Enola pleads with Sherlock to live with him, but he tells Enola that the matter is out of his hands because Mycroft is now the legal guardian of Enola.

Sherlock is Enola’s idol (she keeps newspaper clippings of all his cases), but she also feels competitive with Sherlock to solve the mystery of their mother’s disappearance before he does. Just like Sherlock, Enola is smarter than the average person, but she has more obstacles than Sherlock at being taken seriously because she has three strikes against her in this society: She’s female, she’s underage, and she’s a non-conformist.

In a flashback memory, Eudoria tells Enola: “There are two paths you can take, Enola: yours or the path others choose for you.” It’s a philosophy that Enola takes to heart. And more often than not, Enola trusts her own instincts, even if things don’t always work out the way that she planned. Luckily, Enola is a quick thinker who can come up with alternative solutions when she finds herself in a jam.

In a candid conversation, Sherlock tells Enola what she already suspected: There must be a very important reason for their mother’s disappearance, which seems to have been staged by Eudoria. Enola can’t solve the mystery while confined at a boarding school, so she runs away from home before she can be taken to the boarding school. Before she leaves, Enola finds some clues left by her mother that lead to a large stash of cash that Enola takes with her because it will come in handy during her investigation.

Enola disguises herself as a boy and sneaks onto a train. While in her private passenger car, Enola is surprised to find another runaway, who’s been hiding in a travel bag stowed in the car. He’s a boy around her age named Viscount Tewkesbury, the Marquis of Basilwhether (played by Louis Partridge), who has left home because he says his relatives are too controlling.

Enola immediately wants nothing to do with Tewkesbury, which means that later on in the movie he’ll become her love interest, in that “I like you but I’m going to pretend that I don’t” kind of way. She doesn’t have much time to kick him out of her train quarters because a sinister-looking man, whose name is later revealed to be Linthorn (played by Burn Gorman), has followed and ambushed Tewkesbury and tries to throw him out of the moving train. (And like a true villain in stories like this, Linthorn wears a derby/bowler hat.) Enola comes to the rescue of Linthorn and saves his life. The two teens jump off the train and immediately run away together, even though they don’t really know where they are.

During their time on the run, Enola and Tewkesbury get to know each other, and they find out that they have some things in common, besides not wanting to be under the control of bossy relatives. Enola and Tewkesbury both have fathers who have died. They both are resisting being “sent away” by relatives in restrictive environments. Enola doesn’t want to go to boarding school, while Tewkesbury doesn’t want to give in to his relatives’ demands that he enroll in the army. The two teens have also been following the news of about the Representation of the People Act 1884 (also known as the Third Reform Act), which proposes the expansion of voting rights to more citizens and which Parliament will decide on in an upcoming vote.

The beginning of a romantic spark between Enola and Tewkesbury is evident when Enola decides that Tewkesbury’s hair needs to be cut, so she cuts it for him. She acts as if she’s too independent to think about dating boys, but it’s easy to see that she’s growing fond of Tewkesbury and doesn’t want to admit it to him or to herself. Enola wants to solve the mystery of what happened to her mother, and she thinks dating someone would be too much of a distraction.

Tewkesbury and Enola eventually go their separate ways when Tewkesbury changes his mind about being a runaway and decides to go back home. He lives on a lavish estate with his widowed mother Lady Tewkesbury (played by Hattie Morahan); his paternal uncle Sir Whimbrel Tewkesbury (played by David Bamber); and his paternal grandmother called the Dowager (played by Frances de la Tour). Enola decides to move on and go to London. Even though Enola and Tewkesbury amicably part ways, it won’t be the last time they see each other in the story.

Enola has been declared a runaway, so she has to dodge the authorities. Mycroft has enlisted the help of a Scotland Yard inspector named Lestrade (played by Adeel Akhtar) to track down Enola. Mycroft feels angry, humiliated and insulted that his teenage sister was able to slip out of his custody. During her time on the run, Enola also comes across a female jiu jitsu class led by an instructor named Edith (who Susan Wokoma), who knows Eudoria and provides Enola with some valuable information, as well as a crash course in jiu jitsu.

Most of the charm of “Enola Holmes” can be credited to Brown and her spirited and charismatic performance of this intrepid sleuth. Enola is no shrinking violet, as she can get down and dirty in some fight scenes. However, the violence is tame enough that “Enola Holmes” can be considered a family-friendly film that adults and kids over the age of 7 can enjoy. The movie’s production design and costume design are on point, as are other technical elements such as cinematography, musical score and the stunt/action scenes.

“Enola Holmes” at times gets a little too heavy-handed with its feminist messages by making feminism look like it’s anti-men, based on some snide male-bashing comments that Enola makes in the movie. True feminism isn’t about being demeaning to men; it’s about believing in gender equality. Let’s hope that in future “Enola Holmes” movies (and you know there will be sequels), the filmmakers have Enola espouse more of the true gender equality spirit of feminism, because Enola doesn’t need to have a negative attitude toward men to be a good feminist.

There are enough twists and turns in the movie to please fans of mystery detective stories. Cavill’s Sherlock Holmes isn’t as intense as the character has been portrayed in other movies, but that’s because this Sherlock Holmes is at the beginning of his illustrious career. Claflin’s portrayal of Mycroft Holmes is fairly standard as a selfish villain, and it’s pretty obvious that Mycroft is a symbol for oppressive patriarchy. The supporting actors all do good jobs in rounding out this well-cast ensemble.

Overall, director Bradbeer keeps a brisk pace and infuses some modern-ish elements to the story (such as the female jiu jitsu class) to lighten up some of the stuffiness that would have dragged down this 123-minute movie if it strictly adhered to replicating everything about the real 1884 England. Purists can watch documentaries for that type of historical realism. “Enola Holmes” is what it is: good, fun escapism.

Netflix premiered “Enola Holmes” on September 23, 2020.

‘Stranger Things’ team backstage at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards

January 30, 2017

by Carla Hay

The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards took place on January 29, 2017, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

“STRANGER THINGS”

SAG Award win:

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

Here is what these SAG Award winners said backstage in the SAG Awards press room.

Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp, and Caleb McLaughlin at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles.
“Stranger Things” cast members Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Millie Bobby Brown, Noah Schnapp and Caleb McLaughlin at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW

How strange is it to have this award?

Caleb McLaughlin: Oh my gosh, it’s a blessing. I was sitting there. I was waiting for “The Crown,” “Game of Thrones,” all of the great competition that we had. And then I just heard, “Oh my gosh.” I just heard the “s,” and I knew it was us, and I just started jumping.

Finn Wolfhard: I’ll say something very quickly. I looked to Natalia, I looked to Millie. I was like, “Guys, I’m going to sleep. See you later.” And I laid my head on the rest. And then they were, like, “Stranger Things” …

Millie Bobby Brown: And it was actually funny because the Duffers, the [“Stranger Things”] directors, we thought we had no chance. It is so incredible to be in such an incredible category with so many talented, incredible shows that have worked so hard. I really want to thank everyone I didn’t get to say on stage because David Harbour just rocked it, but I just want to say thank you so much to every single nominee in that category.

Noah Schnapp: Mr. [Matthew] Modine actually told me that it’s like it’s already like winning when you get nominated, and then being able to win after being nominated is just the feeling, the rush; it’s just such a blessing.

Gaten Matarazzo: Yeah, it really is just a great opportunity to be here, and the great thing about it is that we’re in our first season. We are in our first season of this show, and we just won this award. And it’s the whole cast, and they called our name, and I’m like, “How the hell? Like what? You’re kidding me!” And Dave’s speech was just amazing, and I could listen to that a hundred times. It was just a phenomenal job. Thank you to just everyone and David Harbour. It’s exciting.

You’re all so young. What would you say to kids who aspire to be actors?

McLaughlin: I would say just keep striving for your dreams and never give up. Don’t believe anyone that puts you down. Just keep going because you’re your own person, and you have to just keep doing it. Just keep going.

Wolfhard: My answer to that would be keep trying. Every actor has been in the position, well not every actor. Some actors like us got lucky with this, but some actors don’t get lucky, and they work their whole lives to be on a show like this. I’ve only been acting for five years, four years. Some actors have been acting their entire life, because we’re not old. That sounded awful. Sorry. Not all on the older side. We’ve only been on this planet for 14 years. I would just say keep trying; keep auditioning for stuff.

Brown: I’ve always thought just go into an audition room thinking you haven’t got the job, and that’s really bad advice but to me that really works. And when I went into “Stranger Things,” I thought, “I really am not going to get this. I mean, there’s so many talented … 306 girls, I think, auditioned for Eleven.” And I’m just like, “It’s to be going the same audition as them,” so I just thought, “I’m going to get this.”

Schnapp: So my answer would be … everyone says this but it’s really true: Just never give up and stay motivated keep trying. One day you’re going to get it if you love it. Just go after it, because if you love it, put your heart into it and your passion. One day it’ll come.

Matarazzo: So mine is to say that tonight really proves that kids can be good actors too, because there are a lot of things that a lot of people give a lot of stereotypes saying kids aren’t good actors because they don’t have experience. But it’s not about experience. It’s about your will to do what you love, and it’s about your passion for it. It is about how much you really want to do this, because you can really just do amazing things, no matter how long you’ve been on this planet.

So if any kid out there that says they aren’t as good as someone because they’re older, they are wrong because age does not matter no matter how old you are. You can be a hundred years old in there [he points to his head] even if you’re 9 years old. That’s what I have to say. Any kid can do amazing things.

David, you got very emotional in your speech. How long did you take for you prepare it?

David Harbour: I didn’t expect us to win at all, actually, because we’re the newcomers, and there’s a lot of kids in the show, and it’s a strange show to give an acting award. I think I’m so proud of this cast, and I think it’s well-deserved. I think the work that these guys are doing is so extraordinary, but I did not think we were going to win. I did know that if we did win, I’m very bad at improvisation, as the rest of the cast can tell you. So I did not want to go up there with nothing to say, so I did write this speech.

And it’s gone through many iterations. I’ve had a lot of feelings and thoughts this last week, and I wanted to express it in some way that dealt with what we do through our art and also the craft of acting. And I feel like in our society now, it’s important to remember that acting is a craft, and that this is a guild, and it is something worthy of study, and it’s something worthy of hard work and dedication. It’s not about how popular you are; it’s not about how many “likes” you get on things. I see some trends in our society going a certain way, and I think acting is, at least for my life, has been a very important component about self-expression that is very worthy of a guild. And so I wanted the speech really to be about that.

Had you run the speech by your castmates? It looked Winona Ryder was hearing it for the first time.

Harbour: I didn’t see her reaction. Actually we were at dinner the other night, and it was Cara [Buono] and the teens and myself. And I was like, “Guys, I want to say this kind of crazy speech. Can I run it by you? And Charlie [Heaton] was like, “No, no you’ll ruin it. You’ll jinx it.” But finally we beat him into submission. And I did do it for them.

But it even changed last night, based on the protests that are going on at the airports and all this stuff that’s going down. I started to change it some more, but they did help me, and they did reassure me that it was an okay thing to say and that it wasn’t pretentious,  and that I could say it. So I was very appreciative of their feedback.