Last year, a new series from Netflix called “Stranger Things” emerged from the infamous Upside Down and became a pop culture phenomenon. Coming off that level of epic success, the highly-anticipated season 2 is set to return with more thrilling adventures in the paranormal. Judging from the new promo, it looks like the forthcoming season will be just as good as the first – if not better.
In conjunction with AsiaPOP Comicon, we had the chance to sit down and talk to Noah Schnapp (Will) and Joe Keery (Steve) together with newcomers Dacre Montgomery (Billy) as well as Sadie Sink (Max). During our interview, we discussed the actors’ favourite moments, the love triangle, the 2 new characters joining the sci-fi supernatural drama show, and what’s in store for “Stranger Things 2”.
What was it like working with the Duffer Brothers, Winona Ryder, and the rest of the cast?
Sadie: It’s definitely a little bit scary at first going into it knowing what they’ve already established in Season 1 but we were able to fit right in. Everyone was really welcoming.
Dacre: Winona was lovely. Because I come from Perth, Australia which is where Heath Ledger was from and she knew him quite well, I remember the first thing she said to me was, “Oh I knew Heath”, so that was our association with Perth. The rest of the cast were really lovely and the Duffers are extremely collaborative. They’re lots of fun to work with.
Noah, were you aware of how big Winona Ryder was going into “Stranger Things”?
Noah: Oh yeah, she’s so sweet and helpful with everything. There was a scene where I was in the Upside Down and she was worried cause they had to do CPR on me. I remember there was a time when I had a scene that I was worried about also, and I texted Winona saying, “Hey do you mind looking over this (the script) and maybe texting me some advice?”, and she was like, “Oh advice, I’ll come in tomorrow”, and she came in an hour earlier and helped me through it.
The first season was visually appealing. What are some of the most memorable scenes you’ve shot?
Noah: I think I’m just always going to stick with this. My favourite scene to film is the scene where all the boys were playing D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) at the table. It was the first day and no one knew how everything would work and we’re all just trying things out. It was a different feel cause there was no pressure and everyone was making faces to make everyone laugh. It took forever for us to finish that one scene.
Did y’all actually got to play D&D?
Noah: They had a guy on set that taught us how to do everything, which I still don’t understand, it’s so complicated. No one actually knows how to play.
Watching the first season, did you feel somehow left out in any way?
Noah: Not really. It’s definitely different between the first and second season. In the first season, I would fly in and then fly back out. But for the second season I was there the whole time, so it was a better experience for me.
Joe, in Season 1 Steve was both the good and bad guy. What is he going to be like in Season 2?
Joe: The character starts off in a place where we kind of left him off (with Nancy). I would say that he hasn’t completely changed but he’s going through a change. His arc will be just as big as last year.
Can you share your thoughts on the love triangle between Steve, Nancy, and Jonathan?
Joe: I think it’s interesting the way that they have gone against the trope, with her ending up with the jerk character. In this season, it’ll continue to do more surprising things. There’s a reason for each of these things. The Duffers are very smart and subtle in the way they go about it. They easily could have gone the other way but the fact that they made it that choice is smart.
Did you ever get any negative fan reaction for playing a villain?
Joe: On paper he’s a jerk but it is the actor’s job to make it seem real and give it a motive because nobody is a total jerk for no reason. (I tried) to bring a little life to it and make it seem relatable. If they’re having a dialogue about it, I guess it’s a good thing because then it means that people are thinking about it. Hopefully that means I did my job.
Dacre and Sadie, you guys play siblings on the show. What was the chemistry on set like?
Sadie: I was expecting them to do a chemistry test (of us) together but we both just got cast.
Dacre: Yeah, we didn’t meet until we were in Atlanta. Our chemistry in the show is a rivalry, we’re butting heads. It was interesting cause we were friends and then we were non-friends. That’s the easiest way to describe it.
What was the process for casting?
Sadie: It was intense. For me, it was back and forth doing the same (scripts) they’ve given me but the Duffers would be like, “Have Sadie read it this way”. And then I’d come in the next day and they wanted me to read it in a different way. That went on about 4-5 times. I did a Skype session and then I did a screen test.
Dacre: I was a little bit different. I was in Perth and I made a short film, like a self tape, and I Skyped it off and then they offered me the role 3 days later. I was lucky.
Y’all had to pick up certain skills for your roles, can you elaborate what they were?
Sadie: For me it was just skateboarding.
Dacre: Mine was basketball. I’m pretty bad at basketball but we had a great trainer and it turned out really good. I’ve seen the cut.
What was it like to be part of the series that was set in the 1980s?
Sadie: It’s interesting. Obviously I didn’t live in the 80s, but my parents did. They would go to set and my mum would see one of the characters wearing a shirt or dress, and she’s be like, “I had that exact shirt and dress”.
Dacre: My parents commented on different easter eggs, the little things that the Duffer Brothers had inserted in the second season that are very reminiscence of not just the 80s but that particular year in that setting. It was what came out that year, what was new, what was relevant, rather than being specific to a decade, it was specific to a 24-month bracket in that time. So I had a lot of admiration for them and the hair and makeup to be so specific to that particular year. It’s exciting cause I’m not just in the 80s but I’m in this month of 1984. I’m learning all the time cause I wasn’t born till 1994.
Is there anything from the 1980s that you found interesting or wish still existed?
Sadie: As far as social media and the technology that we have now, I think people tend to get addicted to it. The 80s obviously had less of that, kids went outside and played in the real world rather being on their phones all the time.
Dacre: I’m envious of the freedom that children had in the 80s. In terms of just being afraid to let your kids go out, or stranger danger, all these sort of things. Whereas these kids in the show are so uninhibited by hiding. They’re having all these adventures and that’s interesting for me to watch because I didn’t have that. I didn’t get to ride my bike through the wilderness to discover my own demons or demogorgon or whatever.
Dacre, you’ve just come off from “Power Rangers” where you play a hero. In this particular drama, however, you are the opposite.
Dacre: In “Stranger Things”, Billy is a villain. So like you said, playing the opposite was really interesting, cause in real life I’m nothing like Billy. The guy is crazy. He’s so wild and it’s not a representation of who I am. That’s why it was fun to get into a character because the Duffers gave me, especially towards the end of the season, so much to work with about this volatile, insecure teenage boy. And putting that into the “Stranger Things” world is lots of fun.
You said in your past interviews that you studied Jack Nicholson for the role. Can you expand on that?
Dacre: When the Duffers offered me the role, in the initial stages they wanted this Steven King-esque approach to the human antagonist being scary like a monster. So what they wanted to insert in the second season was a character that was all human that was scary. And I think Jack Nicholson achieved a lot of success in villainous roles because of his unpredictable nature. So they asked me to make reference to him and incorporate some of that into my character. Because it’s unnerving for people to watch someone that they don’t know what he’s going to do.
Aside from your own character, can you share who are your other favourite characters on the show?
Dacre: It’s tough, I mean they all add their own flavours. During the first season, all the kids have a different idiosyncrasies. You kind of fall in love with them whether it’s through humour or their curiosity of life and I think it was definitely the same this season. I feel like Noah is a bit like I was at that age.
Are there things your characters would never do?
Dacre: It’s potentially quite revealing. There’s a lot of stuff my character does that I would never do. He smokes, I don’t smoke in real life. But I think he’s incredibly insecure and at that age I was very insecure; still am in some ways. I think his outlook on life is very different as well.
What about the rest of you? What are the similarities and differences between you and your characters?
Joe: My character is maybe a little bit more immature than I am. He acts rashly and doesn’t quite think things over sometimes. He acts out of a place of an angry child. You have to sympathise with what your character does or else it won’t seem real. I can sympathise with it but it’s not the right move.
Noah: My character is definitely more quiet and introverted. That’s different because I’m usually not one to go into a corner and not really talk. Similarities are, he’s very close to his brother. I have a twin sister named Chloe and I’m very close to her.
Moving forward, do you have plans to move from franchise to franchise or do you want to expand your acting horizons or maybe ride the wave a little more?
Sadie: The people on the show told me that the best acting advice was to be a real kid. I love acting, it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. But it’s also important to take a break and experience what normal kids experience. But yeah, I just want to see what happens with acting.
Dacre: I really want to be strategic about it. I love film and television. I grew up loving it. There’s so much being made. We’ve seen the rise of television over the years that has just changed the game. This is only my second job and my first time doing television, so I’ve still got a long way but I’m excited for what the future holds. I hope this will be well received.
It’s been confirmed that “Stranger Things” will have a Season 3 while a 4th season could happen down the pipeline. Is it better to see a finish line in sight or would you prefer to have it develop as it goes? Would you rather be surprised?
Joe: We haven’t heard any confirmation. It’s kind of a limiting thing, I think. I can imagine that it’ll mostly be helpful for the writers if they’re were like, “This is what we see, let’s do this”. There are a lot of other shows that like to have a beginning, middle, and the end. Personally, I’d rather know.
Noah: I’d rather be surprised.
How do you hold back from giving away spoilers to your friends and family about the upcoming show?
Dacre: I actually have a really crazy story. So in Australia, there’s like online betting. And no joke, you can bet for money on who dies first on “Stranger Things”. It has a list of people and my friends would come to me and go, “Mate, we can make big money. We can win big man”, but I go, “Yeah, but my career could be over”. I could have a lawsuit on my hands.
Did your friends win anything?
Dacre: No, I didn’t tell them anything. (laughs) I’m not willing to do that.
Enjoy the trailer here:
“Stranger Things” season 2 will premiere on Netflix on 27th October 2017.
Special thanks and much love to the people at Netflix for having us!