In Elite Daily’s I Can Explain… series, we’re asking celebrities to revisit their most memorable photos and tell us what really went down behind the scenes. In this piece, Amybeth McNulty reflects on her Stranger Things debut, how she really feels about red carpets, and what’s next.
Amybeth McNulty is no stranger to Netflix fame. Her first hit role as Anne Shirley in the updated retelling of Anne of Green Gables, Anne with an E, gained a devoted following almost immediately after its release in 2017. But even with fans constantly bombarding Netflix for more McNulty after Anne ended in 2019, the 20-year-old actor was shocked at how quickly she landed the small but mighty role of Vickie in Stranger Things 4.
“Usually, it’s a month, or months and months, where you keep trying,” she tells Elite Daily of the audition process. But not this time. “I think I auditioned twice, which is still absurd to me.” She got the news she’d landed the role while preparing for another film shoot. “I was in quarantine for two weeks or something absurd, and I was screaming, crying on my own.”
But then came the hard part: actually showing up to work on Stranger Things. “I was very intimidated: Was I going to be welcomed? Was I going to sit in the corner on my own?” she says. “The minute I walked onto the set, I knew I was OK. But yeah, I was petrified.”
Viewers haven’t seen much of McNulty’s character Vickie since the first episode, when she was introduced as Robin’s (Maya Hawke) crush. While she can’t give much else away, McNulty confirms fans “will see more Vicki, in one way or another” when Stranger Things 4’s final two episodes —collectively known as Volume 2 — hit Netflix July 1.
“With Vicki, we have no idea if she's gay, if she is in a relationship or not. We kind of find out a little bit more in July,” she says. “There will be a lot of answers that we haven't had yet.” She also warns viewers to buckle up for an emotional ride: “Get some tissues ready. Prepare to cry a lot.”
Of course, this can’t be an interview with Amybeth McNulty without addressing the Anne with an E of it all. Ever since Netflix announced its cancellation in 2019, fans have pushed for another season. McNulty says the end of the show is something she’s come to accept. “I’ve let that side of my life go,” she says. “I miss the cast endlessly, but we see each other all the time, so I don’t have that same mourning for it as I think a lot of fans do. I’d love to do, say, a movie or something ... and let people get the closure I’ve had, but I doubt that’ll happen.”
Instead, McNulty is going full speed ahead in her career. “There’s so much more I want to give as an actor,” she says. “I’m moving forward and seeing darker, scarier things like Stranger Things and what they have in store.”
Below, McNulty discusses some of her favorite moments from Stranger Things —as well as one moment from her early showbiz days in Ireland that started it all.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
The Start Of It All
Elite Daily: How old were you when that picture was taken?
Amybeth McNulty: I think I was about anywhere between 8 and 10. OK, circa 9-ish.
ED: Where did this take place?
AM: This took place in a little theater called An Grianan Theatre in Ireland, where I first started this whole... whatever this is — journey, I suppose.
ED: What song are you singing?
AM: I was singing “Popular” from the musical Wicked. It’s why I’m dressed in all pink. It’s very Glinda-inspired. All homemade, might I add? My Nan was an incredible outfit maker. I was a proper little musical theater kid.
ED: Did you want to be a singer before you wanted to be an actor?
AM: I never wanted to solely be a singer. I wanted to be in musicals. I wanted to be a stage actress.
ED: How old were you when you knew you wanted to act for a living?
AM: I had no idea that you could do it as a career until I was 8 or 9. My granddad said, “I was an actor when I was younger,” and I was going, “Oh, yeah, that’s fun. How did you make money?” And he was like, “Well, you make money doing it.” And I lost my mind. I started thinking about all the things I could do, and then that was when it became a reality. But it wasn’t until 11 that my parents let me delve into it properly.
ED: Aside from showtunes, what other music are you into?
AM: I love a bit of indie, but also Harry Styles’ new album just came out, so I fell in love. I love Wallows... my music taste is everywhere, except screamo. That’s the only place that I won’t go.
ED: You’re on the soundtrack for Anne with an E; what was it like to have the opportunity to sing for the show?
AM: That day that we filmed it, I was incredibly sick. I was so ill that I couldn’t function. I’m not singing [in the scene]; we had somebody off-camera singing for me. Then I had to record myself singing in a studio [to add to the scene]. I never wanted to be a singer and have never been so upset and stressed; I will never do it again. I will never be a singer. It’s not for me; I don’t like it. I’m glad people enjoy it, but that is all they will ever receive.
Partying With Millie Bobby Brown
ED: This was for Millie Bobby Brown’s 18th birthday party, right? What was it like?
AM: It was amazing. She had this ABBA tribute act, and so everyone was singing along to ABBA. There was a beautiful dance floor, and honestly, my friends and I spent the entire night dancing, like, that’s all we did. And it was beautiful. Everyone was dressed up.
ED: Did you know Brown or any of the other Stranger Things stars before being cast?
AM: I’ve been talking to Millie since I was 16, 17. We talked online. Stranger Things came out before Anne. I talked to Gaten [Matarazzo]; I talked to a few of them. It was supportive —we’re all child actors going through this weird new thing together. Then we lost contact because everyone got busy. When I got to the set, Millie was the first person I saw. And she was like, “This has been such a long time coming. It’s so good to meet you!” It felt like a reunion in a weird way.
ED: Are you and Brown close now?
AM: She’s honestly such a little beam of light. Like she’s so welcoming. If [someone has] that level of fame, you can imagine feeling almost intimidated by it. I think I didn’t, because I talked to her before and knew she was lovely. I had a sleepover at her house and went to dinner with her and her family. She wanted to make sure that I wasn’t on my own because I was alone in America for two months. And it was nice to be included; I was there for her boyfriend’s birthday and stuff. She’s the sweetest. I adore that girl.
Stranger Things 4 Premiere Party Realness
ED: Please tell me why you’re just chilling in the corner at the Stranger Things 4 premiere.
AM: At these premieres, it gets really difficult because everybody’s talking to you. But they’re not talking to me, because no one has seen me [in the show] yet. I was like, “No one wants to talk to me! That’s great!” Everyone I wanted to talk to — like Sadie [Sink], Gaten [Matarazzo], and Caleb [McLaughlin] — was bombarded. So I’m walking around with my friend Miranda [McKeon], who was my date for the evening, and I’m like, “My heels hurt. I’m in pain now. I want to sit down where the group is, but I also don’t because they’re talking to everybody.” So we found a little corner, took a couple of photos, and sat down by this huge Stranger Things 4 sign; I just planted myself there. Miranda took that fantastic photo. That is the sheer bliss of, “Wow, this is my life.” And also, “Wow, my feet feel so much better now I’ve sat down.”
ED: You look stunning! How do you select your outfit for this event?
AM: I’d never used a stylist until the Stranger Things premiere. Again, my Nan was always involved with that stuff and loved helping me choose outfits. And this time, I was like, “OK, I don’t have my Nan, so I need help now.” I worked with Sarah Slutsky, who was amazing. And the Olivier Theyskens dress is the first kind of proper designer thing I’ve ever worn out. I felt beautiful. Like, it was very out therefor me. I hadn’t done a premiere since before COVID. I’m 20 now; I’m older, so I was like, “Let’s get a little bit of something going on.” Everyone was so good about making me feel good, which was great.
ED: How do you feel about premieres and red carpets in general?
AM: It depends. I mean, I enjoy them. I think I mainly enjoy seeing all the cast again, seeing all my friends and catching up. I think the interviews; I was worried I was a little rusty after the pandemic. But somehow, I still had some skills left there, and I was with my friend. I’ve realized that I took them so [seriously] when I was younger, and nowadays there’s so much more joy I get out of them when I go dancing and see my friends. I don’t have to be perfect and look great all the time. And that’s a huge thing that’s come with maturity.
ED: Leading up to the big release, were you nervous? How did you feel about the world seeing you in Stranger Things?
AM: I was incredibly nervous, just in terms of invasion of privacy. I think that was a major thing for me. Maya (Hawke) called me a couple of days before and was really, really sweet and wanted to check in and make sure I was OK before it all happened. I’ve been OK right now —you’ll see a little bit more of me in July, and I think that’s when I’m going to start getting a little nervous. Recognition has happened more; I’ve started wearing sunglasses, keeping them in my back pocket. But the reactions have been great, and I’m such a small part of it that I got to sit down and enjoy watching the show.