Ahead of filming the second season of Stranger Things, we talk filming, funny moments and fan stories with Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin and Joe Keery
What was your first impression of the Stranger Things universe?
Joe Keery: I really enjoy that the Duffers wrote these characters who are truly good at heart, especially the kids. We’re so used to antiheroes: Walter White from Breaking Bad or Don Draper, but I really think its cool to have this wholesome thing at the centre: these people are good. They nail the 80s trope.
What did you think of your character?
Joe Keery: I’d had experiences in high school that made me feel like I knew where this guy was coming from – I kind of put a couple of different people together in my mind. I just had a gut feeling about the dude and the Duffers were into it.
Were you a horror fan before the series?
Joe Keery: I was always into scary movies from that time period – The Thing, and Temple of Doom was my favourite Indiana Jones movie because the man gets his heart ripped out. But scary movies from now I’m so into. I’m more of a thriller, suspense guy than gore – gore isn’t really my thing.
Which was the most memorable scene you filmed?
Joe Keery: The last scene was super-memorable, with me and Charlie (Heaton) and Natalia (Dyer) in the house. Two days in all that make-up, I had the contact in my eye, doing some pretty wild stuff. And then the monster tears through the roof.
Are you three tight?
Joe Keery: We’re always trying to make each other laugh on set.
What do you want to see happen in series two?
Joe Keery: I just think, now that this group of people know about the supernatural, how does it bring them together and what happens from here? Now they’ve witnessed this event, they have this bond, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it affects their relationships.
What’s the funniest thing that happened to you on set?
Joe Keery: Charlie punched me in the face. That was pretty funny.
What did you think of Lucas?
Caleb McLaughlin: Once I got to know him, I thought this kid is very smart and very witty. I’m not as serious as Lucas, but I’m just as sceptical!
Were there any scary moments filming?
Caleb McLaughlin: The scariest part of filming was the scene in the first episode where it’s night-time, and we’re looking for Will but we find Eleven. Because it was Halloween morning!
Were you in to spooky movies before Stranger Things?
Caleb McLaughlin: I wasn’t able to watch any scary movies because my mum wouldn’t let me.
Which scene did you have most fun filming?
Caleb McLaughlin: The scene where I get pushed back (by Eleven). There were four shots and one was on a green screen, which was so fun because I was in the air, flying back.
“I’m not as serious as Lucas, but I’m just as sceptical!” – Caleb McLaughlin
What was it like playing the sceptical one who is suspicious of Eleven?
Caleb McLaughlin: The audience knows there’s something out there, but Mike, Dustin and Lucas haven’t seen it. Lucas thinks it’s Eleven because she has the powers, and she doesn’t speak that much. Honestly, you would be scared or very cautious if this girl you found in the woods with superpowers was in your house! And when your friends are going against you, you’re like, ‘Come on, man!’ We didn’t know how the monster looked till the end of the season.
How did you get on with your cast-mates?
Caleb McLaughlin: We really are the best of friends. When other people recognise you, they can be really silly, and they freak you out sometimes. So I think, ‘I’ma stick with my Stranger Things friends and the friends I already have.’
What’s your favourite fan theory about the show?
Caleb McLaughlin: My friend’s theory was pretty cool. He said, ‘How long was Will missing?’ (I said,) ‘A week.’ And the game was for seven days, meaning the game has to do with what happens in their lives. He was gone for seven days and the Demogorgon got him!
What’s the spookiest experience you’ve ever had?
Caleb McLaughlin: I hate going to the end of the driveway and throwing out the trash, because there’s spooky woods.
What did you think of Dustin, your character?
Gaten Matarazzo: They based Dustin on me. It’s pretty easy to act like yourself!
What’s the strangest thing that happened on set?
Gaten Matarazzo: We were filming the last scene, when Eleven finally kills the monster in the classroom. Well, we don’t know if it’s dead, we don’t know if she’s dead. When we were filming that scene, the monster makes a really loud roar, and (usually) they put that in during editing. But they wanted an actual reaction out of us, so they hid a speaker in the closet, and they actually played the monster roar on full blast behind us! Eleven’s supposed to be unconscious on the table behind us, but we all jumped like crazy, Caleb even let out his little Caleb shriek, and Millie jumps off the table and screams at the top of her lungs! That was definitely fun.
If you had a government-lab superpower, what would it be?
Gaten Matarazzo: The ability to make someone’s mind play tricks on them! To trick them a bunch and make them all confuzzled.
Did you like scary movies before you started filming?
Gaten Matarazzo: Yeah I did, I love all those spooky things from the 80s like Poltergeist and Scream and Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street. I’m obsessed with them, basically.
“We have a group chat called ‘The Coolest of Stranger Things.’ You’d think we were sick of each other, but we’re not” – Gaten Matarazzo
What’s your favourite fan theory?
Gaten Matarazzo: There’s this one about my character, but there’s no evidence to back it up. Because Dustin didn’t move to Hawkins until the fourth grade, he was one of the past test subjects and put in a fake family – pretty cool, because Dustin could have superpowers, but, man…
Do you keep in touch with the other kids outside of filming?
Gaten Matarazzo: Yeah, we have a group chat called ‘The Coolest of Stranger Things.’ Everyone knows that the kids are the coolest! You’d think we were sick of each other, but we’re not.
Who’s scarier, the monster or El?
Gaten Matarazzo: The monster, because El was our friend. In fact, I think I can hear my wall upstairs caving in as we speak.
Hair Ramsell Martinez at Streeters using R+Co, make-up Tracey Levy at Forward Artists using Burt’s Bees, photography assistant Robbie Corral, styling assistants Emma Litvack, Alexandra Grandquist