- 20 Oct - 26 Oct, 2018
THINGS GET STRANGER
With the stories, attitude and silverware to prove it, the stars of Netflix’s sci-fi phenomenon have cranked it up to Eleven before they have even left their teens.
- 11 Nov - 17 Nov, 2017
It was last year, in the odd, distressing milieu, when Stranger Things first appeared and, in its nostalgia, conspiracies and cavernous possibilities, heralded an escape from the politically toxic cocktail party of 2016. It was as though an exit sign had been switched on: neon red which hung above a door strung with Christmas lights jerking on and off.
Through that door, noise travelled. The Clash’s guitars mingled with the soundtrack of suburbia: lawnmowers, school bells, the whirr of a food mixer, of a Chopper bike’s wheels, sirens and children screaming. People disappeared behind it and returned with a new vocabulary. They spoke of the Nether and the Upside Down, Eleven, Eggos and the Demogorgon. They were flush-cheeked, pumped with the oxygen that fresh air brings, happy. They all asked, Where is Barb?
The Duffer Brother’s debut for Netflix was a portal to Hawkins, Indiana, in 1983, a small town torn apart by a young boy’s disappearance, a doe-eyed, psychokinetic skinhead girl in a hospital gown and the monsters and men in suits that followed her. In its first 35 days online, more than 14 million people devoured all eight episodes.
The show alleviated a cultural malaise, but also elicited critical applause, no less than 18 Emmy nominations and a cult-like following. It reunited audiences with Winona Ryder, kindled a universal adoration for 13-year-old Millie Bobby Brown and introduced four actors – Caleb McLaughlin (15), Finn Wolfhard (14), Gaten Matarazzo (14) and Noah Schnapp (12) – to fame, and to each other. Their collective role elevated Stranger Things to the Stand By Me of science fiction, lines from which they were asked to read in their early auditions.
“In the beginning we didn’t know it would go anywhere. Then the show blew up overnight,” Schnapp remembers.
Bound by secrets, both those hidden in the clandestine scripts for the forthcoming second series and in the absurdity of being young together in extraordinary circumstances, the boys are sworn to each other, brothers whose friendship is, as Schnapp offers, “true”.
When together, their voices banter and overlap affectionately in a playground chorus. “Do I sound like an old man?” says one. “You sound like a 30-year-old,” comes the fast reply, chased by sniggers.
“When you see us hanging out on the show and laughing, that’s usually real. That is just us being friends,” explains Wolfhard.
The group, including Brown, are in constant contact, even when, as is often, they are separated by stats, schedules and time zones. When reunited, they have sleepovers, go to Red Lobster, swap film trivia and practice dance moves. A secret handshake is in the works. Theirs, in art as in life, is a prosaic adolescence interrupted by supernatural goings on. The Red Lobster feasts come as rewards for exhaustive Comic-Con appearances and the dance routines become award ceremony centrepieces (see their 2016 Emmy performance of Uptown Funk).
“I’m really excited for people to see more of Stranger Things. They deserve it,” McLaughlin says of the next instalment, which will be released in time for Halloween.
“It’s going to be scarier and darker than the first series,” adds Matarazzo. “We’re going into new territory.”
On the promo poster for series two, the boys look up from their bikes at a thunderous, blood-red sky. Whatever is coming, the fate of their friendship is clear. Wolfhard steps up as spokesman, “We’re going to know each other forever.”
“Oh yeah,” the chorus echoes.
- 06 Oct - 12 Oct, 2018
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