Movies

Coming of age in Hawkins: Meet the cast of ‘Stranger Things’

The gang is back with the fourth season of their show

The gang is back with the fourth season of their show

Part of the charm of why Stranger Things has captivated an international fan base, is that the hit series is as much a coming-of-age drama as it is about supernatural monsters and hidden worlds. 

Talking to some of the cast members over a Zoom video call — Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Natalia Dyer, Gaten Matarazzo, Sadie Sink and Caleb McLaughlin — is only testament to this, as the lot discuss how their characters on the show mirror so many of the real-life dilemmas they deal with. 

The new season picks up six months after the epic Battle of Starcourt, in the aftermath of which all the friends are separated for the first time. As the horrors of the Upside Down surfaces again, a new mystery emerges threatening to derail life at Hawkins, in what is their most terrifying enemy yet.

Back to the Eighties

Joe Keery, who plays Steve Harrington, says that the Duffer brothers (the show’s creators) are so good at incorporating everybody’s personalities into the characters, that they might not even be aware of it. “They also try to maximise your strengths as an actor too, and create opportunities to do things that you’re good at.”

Maya Hawke pipes in, “Oh, my character’s foot-in-mouth syndrome resonates with me pretty well (laughs). But I really love her (Robin Buckley) and feel there’s a lot of similarity there.”

There’s no denying the cultural impact that Stranger Things has had over the years, bringing the Eighties back into trending pop-culture. Joe agrees, “It’s so cool to be a part of something that so many people love, but still difficult to wrap your head around it.”

Finn Wolfhard as Mike WHeeler, Noah Schnapp as Will Byers and Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven

Finn Wolfhard as Mike WHeeler, Noah Schnapp as Will Byers and Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven | Photo Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Maya, who is still finding her feet on the show after her character’s introduction in the third season, adds, “The show also represents so much of our parents’ generation, different aspects of their youth, and who they were. There are all these sentimental references to things that were really important to them as teenagers or young adults.”

The Scooby-Doo gang of mystery-solvers

Natalia adds that she was thrilled to work with Maya, and they began calling themselves the ‘Ssooby-Doo gang’ of mystery solvers!: “I feel like last season, everyone was curious to see how our characters would vibe, and that was very exciting. We had a really good time together.”

Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley, Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair, and Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler

Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley, Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair, and Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler | Photo Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Joe also says that the action set-pieces have been ramped up this season, which was almost as exciting as the personal growth their characters undertake. “We do a lot this whole season, and a big part of it is actually in the action and the scope of it. The relationships between the characters are the core of the show, it is the backbone of the narrative that makes us root for all of them.”

Everyone’s favourite friendship on the show is between Steve and Robin — especially after the latter’s coming out scene at the end of last season — how can we see that develop?

“That moment, at the end of last season, just really solidified their relationship, and we are uber-supportive of each other throughout the show. Sometimes it feels like we’re like a bickering, old married couple. But mostly, we’re always each other’s best advocate,” Joe laughs.

He concludes that the highlight of season 4 would be Quinn’s new character: “We all started watching the episodes together, and everyone is so collectively excited for the world to meet Eddie Munson. If Stranger Things was a soup, then Quinn is the cayenne pepper to the equation; he brings in such a fun new element.”

All about relatability

Meanwhile, the younger set of teen actors take on a different challenge this time around; that of figuring out who they are as people… while battling deadly other-wordly monsters on the side.

A still from ‘Stranger Things’

A still from ‘Stranger Things’

Caleb McLaughlin, who has played Lucas for four seasons now, says many of them can relate to their characters. “It’s interesting because it reminded me of myself in a way. I’ve been growing up in the (film) industry, but I’m still a kid off-screen, but doing a lot of adult things and trying to find myself in this world. That’s similar to Lucas’ journey too; he is almost going through a midlife crisis of sorts caught in between his basketball team, the Hawkins group, and so on.”

What do they attribute to the show’s popularity across age groups?

Gaten Matarazzo, one of Stranger Things’ most-recogniwed stars, says that the nostalgia effect draws people in, especially those who grew up throughout the 1980s or who were teenagers in the 80s. “But a lot of young people also watch it because it’s pretty cool to see a young cast lead a massive show like this. There are a lot of reasons why people show up, but they stay because they genuinely start to feel for the show and the characters involved. It’s really wonderful to see how diverse our fanbase is — our demographic consists of fans of all ages — and that’s not common for many shows.”

Given that they have had a chance to experience growing up in the 80s as part of the show, do they think it’s better than being a teen in today’s world?

Gaten, who is 19 now, muses, “Haha, wow, that’s a debate for sure! In the 80s, the whole lack of technology like we have now.. I feel like kids were able to get away with a lot more! I mean, we could just go off biking for a couple of days and parents were like, oh okay, sure. (laughs) But yeah, communicating on the walkie-talkies and stuff like that… there was this playfulness and innocence that lasted a little bit longer than I think it does today,” Gaten muses.

The fourth season of Stranger Things premiered on May 27 (Volume One) on Netflix. Volume Two will be out on July 1


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Printable version | May 27, 2022 4:26:31 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/meet-the-cast-of-stranger-things-coming-of-age-in-hawkins/article65462755.ece