The Stranger Things Kids Get Real About Instant Fame, the Upside Down, and Being Friends
It’s the Upside Down, IRL.
It is hard to look anywhere in Hollywood without seeing the impact of the five teenagers who have collectively become known as “the Stranger Things kids.” They’ve taken over the Emmys stage with a killer rendition of “Uptown Funk,” and even earned a cosign from Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director of Louis Vuitton. In short, they’ve been an instant phenomenon since the moment their show debuted on Netflix this summer. And at the core of the viral juggernaut are five kids — Millie Bobby Brown, 12; Caleb McLaughlin, 14; Gaten Matarazzo, 14; Noah Schnapp, 12; and Finn Wolfhard, 13 — who are… well, just enjoying being kids.
Teen Vogue caught up with the rising stars to talk about how they balanced the very real middle school drama of Hawkins, Indiana, with the paranormal fright of the Upside Down’s monster, how they keep connected while navigating the spotlight together, and what they hope happens in season 2 of the show.
Teen Vogue: Stranger Things is really driven by the friendship between these kids. How does it feel to be at the center of it all?
Finn Wolfhard: It feels amazing.
Caleb McLaughlin: Yeah, it feels pretty cool. I didn’t even realize [the amount of] attention that everyone has been paying [to the show], but it’s pretty cool being a kid in this amazing project.
Gaten Matarazzo: Yeah, it’s definitely a good feeling to be part of such a big project and [to be] beloved characters in a big project like this. I was really honored to be part of the project.
Noah Schnapp: I went to camp and I came back, and I saw that people from across the world were watching the show, and everyone was interacting with us on social media. I was so happy and amazed by how far the show had gone.
TV: In the beginning of the story, Eleven is very much an outsider but the boys pull her into their friendship group. How did you figure out that dynamic and build off that?
Millie Bobby Brown: We created a group chat, earlier on when we all got the job, so I kind of thought I knew them already. We also had school before we actually filmed this, [so] we knew who the prankster was, we knew who the sensible one was… It just really showed on camera.
MBB: It’s really nice to talk to each other when we need each other on this group chat.
NS: I don’t think the group chat is what made us friends, I think we just became friends, and then we created a group chat together. It really did help. When they were trying to cast us, they looked for people who had the best chemistry together. It really makes sense because if we didn’t like each other, the show wouldn’t be what it would be.
When they were doing all the callbacks, the first person I met was Caleb, in LA, and we always hung out, had breakfast together. I was really hoping to do it with him, and I was happy that he got the role for Lucas, so we could work together. Then, I met everyone else later in the show, and we just all became friends, literally on the first day. We went to school, we all sat together, and we just started laughing. Then, later we started hanging out, having sleepovers. Me and Millie would make these diary things on our phones, called Stranger Things Video Diaries, and we became really close.
TV: You really are in the public eye in a major way — people are blogging up Millie’s YouTube channel and Gaten’s Instagram. How does it feel for each of you to kind of navigate all of this instant fame?
MBB: The show is so well-received, and we’re just very grateful to the press and our fans [for staying] supportive and [being] there for us. We really couldn’t have done this without Netflix and the Duffers [Matt and Ross Duffer, the show’s creators].
GM: My Instagram is really just a regular page that I made, but it’s a great feeling to know that so many people appreciate your work. … I know it’s not about the followers, but it makes me feel good that people will go out of their way to follow me and message me.
CML: I just love the fact that our fans take the time out to say “you did great.” They come up to me and say my full name and say they love my work.
FW: For me it’s sort of surreal. … My Twitter followers went up and my Instagram followers went up, and I’m getting recognized on the street, which is also very weird for me. I did a guitar cover of Nirvana’s “Lithium,” and Rolling Stone was tweeting it out, and people were asking me on their radio show to come play it. I’m like, “I’m so bad at playing guitar. Why would you ever want me to be on your radio show?”
TV: Do you lean on each other to navigate all of these experiences?
FW: We all trust each other very much. We’re all part of a big family now; it’s like we’re brothers so we have to trust each other or else it’s not going —
MBB: And sister!
FW: Yeah, sorry, and sister!
MBB: It’s kind of like, forget about me.
GM: Don’t forget about Millie!
FW: We also have the Duffers, and Natalia [Dwyer, who plays Nancy Wheeler, Mike’s sister], and we have Joe [Keery, who plays Steve Harrington, Nancy’s boyfriend]. I just miss the whole crew. We [are basically all] brothers and sisters now, it’s one of those things where we have to trust each other on set.
MBB: [The Duffer Brothers] wrote [Stranger Things] four years ago, in 2012, and they must have really imagined what these characters and what they wanted. And to see us actually have a really good friendship, it must be nice for them to see.
FW: They told me that it’s surreal for them to be writing a show that’s so well-received. Tribute to them too.
TV: Did you help the Duffers in forming who these characters were? How did you navigate adding your own interpretation to each one?
MBB: Well, they only wrote one episode when we were auditioning for the show. They really wrote to us — except for me, because I didn’t come from a laboratory and I’m not a weirdo. They wrote to mostly Finn and Caleb, because Caleb can play the serious role very well. I think they wrote to him as the most sensible one out of the group — which he’s not, in real life. He’s the goofball and I think Finn’s the sensible one and I am also. The Duffer Brothers formed a relationship with us so we could talk to them about what we thought was good.
GM: I definitely feel they wrote the characters around the people who played them. I feel like it was good that they did that because the kids playing them are able to play a role — actually, I feel like that’s why we’re getting so much better. People come up to me and say “You’re such a good actor.” In my mind, I really wasn’t acting as much as I was being myself on camera.
TV: The duality of the two different story lines co-existing together — the Upside Down and then the very real issue of school bullies and friendships — is such a wonderful thing. How did it feel to have one foot in the paranormal and one foot in reality?
GM: I think that the Duffers did a really good job in keeping it a good balance between paranormal and reality. … [And] because we only filmed for six months, I think the cast did a really good job in transitioning from a missing-person police investigation [story] to monsters trying to murder us. I think the Duffers did a really good job with that and I think that the cast did a really good job with the transition.
CML: I think Millie should answer this question because she has more experience with this type of stuff, the two dimensions.
MBB: I think Gaten sums it up. He’s on the up, really.
NS: It’s really different when I’m in the normal world, and when I’m in another dimension. When I have to act as if I’m Will taken inside the other dimension, I’m like a totally different person. They put makeup all over me, I’m pale and I have to kind of make my voice raspy. It’s a totally different experience from when I’m in the real world, acting as just a normal kid, who has the group of friends. Obviously Will would prefer being in the normal world, but I think I prefer acting as Will in the Upside Down.
TV: Millie, you’ve probably gotten this question so often, but what was it like to shave your head?
MBB: It was fine. I couldn’t wait to get in the chair. I was very excited.
CML: I was at lunch and I didn’t recognize her after. She was like, “Hey Gaten, Caleb, Noah — ” I was like “Hey,” she was like “It’s me, Millie.” She looked so different.
FW: I remember walking into the Duffers’ office; [they] were talking to Millie about the character and stuff, and I walked in, [and] I was like, “Hey guys. Whoa.”
TV: Now that the show has been renewed for season 2, what do you hope is in store for each of your characters?
FW: Obviously everyone’s character is a year older now, and so I think they’ve adapted and grown. I want to see how they’ve adapted, because they’ve seen so many messed-up things. Especially Will who’s been in the Upside Down for about a week. I want to see where that takes us.
GM: I want to see Dustin stand up for himself a little more, become a little more confident in himself, and have more leadership moments.
NS: I’ve heard theories about Will, where he could be half monster, or he’s incubating eggs inside of him, or he turns evil. I think that’s so cool to play a character who is fighting his evil side, like he’s normal, but he’s trying to stay normal. I think that would be pretty cool to play.
MBB: No comment for Eleven for season 2. I have no idea.
Source: Teen Vogue
Stranger Things’s Natalia Dyer Explains Why Nancy Wheeler Isn’t Your Average Big Sister
She gets real about playing one of the show’s most dynamic characters.
Natalia Dyer is straddling two worlds right now.
In one, she’s a 19-year-old student at NYU — she’s studying at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where she explains her focus as “looking at semiotics, language, and art and how they interact with each other.” But in the other, she’s one of the stars of Stranger Things, the Netflix show that blends the great high school films of the ‘80s with the horror movies from the same decade — oh, and includes a terrifying monster from an alternate reality known as the Upside Down.
Her character, older sister Nancy Wheeler, has a lot to deal with. High school is never easy; imagine what it would be like if your best friend and your brother’s best friend both went missing. And imagine navigating college while also planning to film the second season of a hit show.
Which reality is the Upside Down? That’s for you to decide. And so far, Natalia and Nancy are both handling it all just fine. Teen Vogue caught up with the actress to talk about how her character turns a classic ‘80s trope on its head, what she’s learned from costar Winona Ryder, and what she hopes to explore when we return to Hawkins, Indiana.
Teen Vogue: What initially drew you to the character Nancy?
Natalia Dyer: I see some similarities to her in high school and me in high school — just the way that she straddles groups. I was always a floater. I had a lot of different social groups, always trying to figure out where [I] really fit in. … As her character developed, she ended up just everything I could hope for — really, just, cool — and I think she’s turning into a really strong, self-sufficient girl. … That’s credit to the Duffers for being great writers, and [I] hope to get more of that in season two.
TV: It feels like the show is definitely driven by female characters. How does it feel to be a part of that?
ND: Right? Between Winona and Millie, it’s cool to see strong leading ladies. They’re very cool parts to play, and you don’t find them everywhere. You usually find a girl-next-door kind of thing.
I think what I really like [about Nancy] is she doesn’t just stay the love interest. Of course, there’s this whole love triangle thing that people are very interested in, but she has goals and drive and she’s on a mission.
TV: The older sister character is such a mainstay trope in ‘80s movies — Jeannie in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Lisa in Dirty Dancing, for example. But Nancy sort of flips the script. Have you watched a lot of ’80s movies prior to taking on the role?
ND: I had never seen the classics with Molly Ringwald, like Pretty in Pink or Sixteen Candles, or ’80s horror, like Poltergeist, Close Encounters, and Nightmare on Elm Street. I went back and watched all of those. It’s a different kind of movie, for sure. That was fun, going back in time.
I think the show does a lot of that: picking certain archetypes from the ’80s and delving deeper into the realness of those characters, and making them more human and more complex, and really exploring the relationships and not necessarily just the plot line.
TV: What is it like to be working with the Duffers? Do you get to help develop Nancy?
ND: We definitely talk and just hang out. They’re super cool and super approachable. They do ask for our opinions about what we think and what we might think could happen and [where] we think the character [is] going. I trust the writers of the show to make a really good arc. They’re very open to collaborating, I think, which is a gift.
TV: How did you and Joe develop the dynamic between Nancy and Steve, and with Charlie for her dynamic with Jonathan?
ND: A lot of it’s just kind of there. I will say that, in the original pilot, Jonathan was the clear choice because Steve was just such a jerk. They ended up rewriting it because Joe is a very charming, nice guy and he’s just too likable. They wanted to keep him around and explore his character. So she ends up with Steve at the end, and I think that’s where she should be. I’m not going to deny that there’s obviously some kind of chemistry between Jonathan and Nancy. I don’t think either of them know what it is, but I’d be excited to see where that goes in season two. We’ll see. Again, I literally have no idea.
TV: There’s this really great moment in the first episode, where Nancy tells Steve “no” when he’s trying to go further than she’s comfortable with. What does that scene mean to you?
ND: It’s definitely not that surface relationship thing where she’s a dainty girl and [he’s] the cool guy and he takes advantage of her. Again, in the original pilot, he totally did and it was not good. It was really dark, actually. There’s a little more there now. I think it’s more interesting, and it is nice and refreshing to see her say, “Slow down,” and he listens. And that’s great.
TV: Nancy spends a lot of time navigating the different social circles of high school. Do you have any advice for anybody who is going through that shift themselves?
ND: I have a 12-year-old sister who’s just starting to get into that whole [part of life where] kids are mean and your face is breaking out and it’s a lot of stress and a lot is out of your control. I just tell her, I get it. It’s going to get better. … It’s so cliché, but you really need to take care of yourself and take pride in your individuality, because honestly, when you get older, that’s going to be so much more important than hanging out with the cool kids.
The hardest thing is not caring about other people’s opinions. Especially in this day and age … it’s this culture of friends and likes. [But likes aren’t] an ultimate definition of who you are and how popular you are and how much people like you. It’s not real. That’s the thing I try to tell her. Social media: It’s not real life. I only caught the tail end of it in high school. It can be good and it can be fun, but you can’t let it get toxic. Your friends are real. You’re real and what you think of yourself [is real], not others’ opinions.
TV: What do you hope would happen in season 2 for Nancy, in general?
ND: I think there’s a lot of room for Nancy to explore a relationship with her younger brother after this. I think after going through this experience with Mike, it could bring them together in a really nice way, so I hope that relationship gels.
TV: Another relationship to explore could be the loss of Barb. Seeing the friendship take its course — even for a few episodes — is something a lot of people could relate to. What was that like?
ND: We all are Barb in some way or another. Personally I feel like maybe I’ve been in that kind of a situation, where [you have] to prioritize your relationships. Sometimes it gets confusing and you make poor decisions in those moments that just don’t always have such high stakes as Nancy’s.
TV: That’s just one instance where the show straddles these two worlds — the paranormal monsters and the very real issues people deal with. Do you have a preference of one over the other?
ND: I’m not much one for horror stuff, but my favorite part about the script and the show is the relationships. I’m really drawn to relationship stories and human emotions. I think it’s interesting to see how all these different pieces of the puzzle fit together, and how these different generations interact with each other around this event that happens.
TV: What was it like working with Finn and the rest of the kids?
ND: They just keep such a young playful energy around all the time. Sometimes when you get them all together, it can be like, “Wow, we actually have to film this scene, guys. I know we’re having a blast, but we’ve got to get down to business.” They usually do. It’s fun. They’re great. They’re obviously all still very much kids, which is really nice.
TV: How are you handling this instant stardom?
ND: I worry about the Internet sometimes and all of that attention. You never get used to it. It was very much an overnight kind of thing. One day, you’re just walking down the street and you’re just like, you, and then the next day, after Stranger Things comes out, it was like, “Oh, you’re Nancy.” I don’t know if you ever get used to that really, being recognized, being known by strangers, but it’s cool. Thus far, it hasn’t been anything bad.
I know there’s this “Natalia Dyer official” Instagram account that’s not me. That’s the other thing — you have all these people making fake accounts of you all of a sudden. It’s like, why me? I’m normally a really cautious, keep-to-myself person with social media, but you do want to reach out to fans. I just try to be careful with it and not take it too seriously.
TV: Has Winona Ryder given you any advice?
ND: I haven’t specifically asked her for advice or anything, but just by observing the way that she handles herself and her life and the precautions she takes, I think she’s really graceful with being able to keep something sacred and go out when she needs to and support work when she needs to. She doesn’t have a big ego or anything, and I think she likes to choose work carefully. I respect that for sure. Taking time for yourself, that’s what fuels your practice. It’s such a tumultuous business and career to go after that you have to give yourself some self-love time, some recuperation time.
TV: You’ve been working for awhile, but in some ways this might be the Juggernaut that’s going to inform the rest of your career. Do you ever think about that?
ND: It’s zero to 60 right now. I’m really interested in playing cool characters and telling cool stories, just being a part of that in any capacity. Whenever I can find good stories to bring to life, that’s all I’m after, I guess. The goal is to be able to live off of something you love to do. If I can do that, then that’s what I’m going to do.
TV: Is there any one dream character that you would love to play?
ND: I don’t know that this would ever happen, but I would love to do something like a Million Dollar Baby, because if you get cast in a film that’s about a boxer or a wrestler or something, they usually show you how to do things. Something like that, where I would actually get to learn how to do something new and cool and so different from what I do in my normal life, would be amazing. It’s all about getting to live in those different experiences.
TV: Did you ever expect people would be enamored with Nancy?
ND: Really, I had no meter to gauge what the reception would be. I know that she’s kind of goody-two-shoes, then there’s the whole Barb thing. That’s something I did not expect, is how much people really took to Barb. I get it. … It reminded me, just seeing the reaction, how powerful female friendship is and how important that is, those female alliances.
Source: Teen Vogue
I’ve updated the photo gallery with new pictures of Natalia and her co-star Shannon Purser attending the event MTV Total Registration Live on September 28, 2016 in New York City. You can watch the video here.
— MTV (@MTV) September 27, 2016
I’ve updated the photo gallery with 391 screencaptures from the short movie “Too Sunny for Santa”. You can watch the short movie click here. Enjoy!
I’ve updated the photo gallery with 1715 movie screencaptures of Natalia from “I Believe in Unicorns” (2014). It’s a great independent drama movie. You can buy the movie “I believe in Unicorns” on iTunes here.
I’ve added 65 screencaptures of Natalia from “Hannah Montana: The Movie” (2009). Natalia played the role of Clarissa Granger. Previews and gallery link are below:
Hello! I’ve updated the gallery with the pictures of Natalia from various public appearances (2009-2015). Enjoy!
Public Appearances > Public Appearances from 2009 > April 2 | “Hannah Montana The Movie” Los Angeles Premiere
Public Appearances > Public Appearances from 2011 > November 7 | “The Greening of Whitney Brown” New York Premiere
Public Appearances > Public Appearances from 2014 > March 9 | 2014 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival – “I Believe in Unicorns” Photo Op
Public Appearances > Public Appearances from 2014 > March 9 | 2014 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival – “I Believe in Unicorns” Q&A
Public Appearances > Public Appearances from 2014 > May 30 | 17th Annual Brooklyn Film Festival Opening Night Screenings Of “I Believe In Unicorns”
Public Appearances > Public Appearances from 2015 > May 29 | “I Believe In Unicorns” New York Premiere
I’ve updated the photo gallery with 4 photoshoots of Natalia Dyer for InStyle.