Sadie Sink Reveals How The Whale Changed Her And How It Impacted Her Work On Stranger Things

Sadie Sink as Max in Stranger Things
(Image credit: Netflix)

Brendan Fraser’s potentially Oscar-worthy performance has been the promotional focal point for Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale. While we all couldn’t be more thrilled about the Brenaissance train moving in full force, his on-screen partner, Sadie Sink, worked hard on her complicated role in the screen-adapted drama as well. The 20-year-old star recently spoke about the impact that the movie had on her personally and the work she did on Stranger Things.

Sadie Sink plays the character of Ellie, who holds an intense amount of anger towards her father, Brendan Fraser's Charlie, for leaving her and her mother when she was young. At the same time, Sink was also busy playing Max in Season 4 of Stranger Things. On the show, her character also experienced depression and anger after the death of her brother in the Season 3 finale. While being speaking with actress Rooney Mara for Interview Magazine, Sink explained that her experience on The Whale was deeply affecting, as she viewed it as somewhat of her turning point for her personally:

It really helped me because I’d never done a project like The Whale or worked with someone like Darren. Working on that gave me this level of confidence in front of the camera that I did not have before. So going back to Stranger Things after that, I felt really different and I think everyone could tell the difference, too. There was a shift. That comes with stepping out of the child actor role and into, I don’t know, your adulthood, where you stop seeing yourself as this little puppet that stands on their mark and takes direction. It becomes more fun once you realize it’s actually very collaborative, and if you have a question you can ask it and your opinions are really valued. But I needed to learn that lesson and grow up a little bit, so I’m glad that happened.

That shift that Sadie Sink was talking about definitely existed in the latest season of Stranger Things, as her role definitely expanded this time around. When the actress made her debut in Season 2, her character, while entertaining, didn't get to show off too many layers. However, she became one of ST's standout characters in the fourth season due to her emotional arc, which saw her confronting her demons. It’s a shame her performance was snubbed at the Emmys as Sink really gave it her all.

Of course, one can argue that her work on The Whale was a bit more intense, from an emotional standpoint. Ellie was experiencing a level of teenage angst that the actress had arguably never portrayed before. The Fear Street star told Interview Magazine that despite Ellie being very unlikable at times and almost construed as “evil,” she had to dig deep into her to realize that this is just a person who is dealing with a lot of pain and doesn’t know what to do with it. Her work proved to be quite fruitful, considering the praise she's received.

With that experience over and Stranger Things Season 5 in the works Sadie Sink already has future plans. Sink landed her next big role in the thriller Berlin Nobody, which co-stars Eric Bana. She’ll be playing his rebellious teenage daughter. So I guess her days of playing characters who aren’t exactly people-pleasers aren't over just yet. As Sink continues to grow in the industry though, I’d like to believe that we’ll see her play a wide range of characters over time.

Ellie and Max Mayfield will certainly go down as some of her most notable characters, though. You can see Sadie Sink play the former in the 2022 movie release The Whale in theaters now. And for the latter, stream Stranger Things using a Netflix subscription.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.