11 Strange Things You Probably Didn’t Know About ‘Stranger Things’
The Second Season of Netflix’s 80’s retrograde sci-fi-thriller, Stranger Things, has finally premiered. Of course, we’ve our thoughts about it. But before that, we’d like to ease off with a quick did-you-know list of the strange things that appropriately surround the show. Here are 11 strange things you probably didn’t know about Stranger Things.
(Quick note: there are a bunch of spoilers for Season One of Stranger Things, so if you haven’t watched it, steer clear.)
Netflix said yes to the series 24 hours after hearing the pitch
You would think that a media company like Netflix would have a more arduous process than simply saying “yes”, but it only took pitching the show as a bleak Spielbergian show for them to jump on board. The pitch was with Netflix and the show creators, The Duffel Brothers, whom Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps Entertainment helped during pitching.
Here’s Levy recounting to the Hollywood Reporter how they got Netflix to back the project so quickly: “[The Duffer Brothers] came in, and within 10 minutes I knew that these were future major guys. They had a self-assurance that was self-evident. So, we pitched it to Netflix, and within 24 hours, we had the whole season bought. We decided that we would direct all of the episodes ourselves.”
Auditioning child actors had to act out scenes from Stand by Me
Stranger Things is heavily influenced by Stephen King stories; among them is the 80’s adaptation of the Stephen King story, Stand By Me. It’s no surprise that the show creators had insisted their young auditionees to re-enact key moments in the scene from the aforementioned film. This makes sense because many moments from the series draw obvious parallels from Stand By Me.
The Duffer Brothers were able to make Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) shave her head by showing Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road)
Millie Bobby Brown plays Eleven, a mentally beefed but damaged young girl and a product of evil experiments at the Hawkins Lab. When Brown signed on to play the role, the young actress wasn’t aware that she had to get her head shaved. However, the Duffer Brothers were able to finally convince her to get the buzz cut after introducing her to Imperator Furiosa, a key character played by Charlize Theron from George Miller’s high-octane post-apocalyptic thriller Mad Max: Fury Road.
The Demogorgon was a mix of visual and practical effects
The ostensible baddie of the show is a reptilian-like creature called the Demogorgon. In order to achieve a believable look, the show’s creators had to mix practical with visual effects, using spectral motion with Mark Stegar in a crafted suit, the same technique used in films such as Pan’s Labirynth and Hellboy. The result was staggeringly effective, so much so that the twin sisters who portray Mike and Nancy’s youngest sister, Holly, were so scared that a crew member had to tell the twins that the monster was in fact from Monster’s Inc.
The show’s creators had to make a fake trailer to test out the show’s soundtrack and score
The Duffer Brothers clipped together clips from more than twenty feature films—including E.T. (Extra Terrestrial), A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween—to make a “mock” trailer to test out how well the show’s soundtrack and score fit. The trailer was also used to help sell the show during pitching. The Duffers ended up hiring a band called Survive. In a recent episode of Song Exploder, band members Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein broke down how they built the synth-full, nostalgic, now-iconic score for Stranger Things.
Gaten Matarazzo hit puberty while filming and had to dub some parts of the series because his voice changed
Gaten Matarazzo plays Dustin, among the many beloved characters in the series. Over the course of shooting the series, Matarazzo’s voice changed and had to dub over parts he’d previously filmed.
Real-life Elevens might exist in real-life according to conspiracy theorists
Stranger Things is a great sci-fi show. But it’s not all science fiction. The show actually takes notes from some legitimate CIA operations, the most notorious being MK Ultra. The project was implemented from the 1950’s to the 1970’s in more than 80 institutions including hospitals, universities, and more. If it sounds like psychological warfare, it is. The project was set in motion as a result of the cold war. Something that the show touches on very subtly and effectively. In the show, Eleven’s mental superpowers have been pushed to the edge that they’ve manifested an inter-dimensional monstrosity—an idea that grew from the gem the creators have taken from The Montauk Project.
There’s a 30-page explanation of the Upside Down and how it works
That details are sparse about the Upside Down is deliberate. But don’t think that the show’s intra-dimension is an arbitrary product of the creators’ wild imaginations. Apparently, there is a 30-page script that describes what the Upside Down is and explains how it works. “If there was going to be a season two,” Ross Duffer told Flavorwire. “We would reveal more of that 30-page document, but we’d still want to keep it from the point of view of our original characters.”
Hooper’s trailer reportedly costs just one dollar
According to the art department, production had only been set back one dollar—yep, just one!—for Jim Hopper’s spacious trailer-slash-residence. How this was possible we’re still unsure. But a trailer for a dollar? That’s certainly a steal.
Winona Ryder didn’t have a clue what streaming was before getting on board the project
Before taking on the show, Winona Ryder was oblivious to the idea of movies and T.V. being consumed online. “She didn’t even know what streaming was,” jokes Shawn Levy, who pursued her for the role of the perpetually anxious mother, Joyce. “The film business has changed a lot and it’s […] a bit harder if you’re a 44-year-old woman,” Ryder told the Hollywood Reporter.
The Duffer Brothers was first inspired by Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners
Much to the delight of fans (including this writer), Stranger Things is decidedly doused in 80’s nostalgia. However, what many people don’t know is that among its key inspirations is a 2013 indie gem called Prisoners, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival). The film is about a detective who aids a distraught family in finding their missing child. Of the film, Matt Duffer told Rolling Stone: “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t that movie have been even better in eight hours on HBO or Netflix?’ So we started talking about a missing-person story.”
“It was great seeing those characters in that tone on the big screen, but we thought it needed more,” Ross added. “It was taking that idea of a missing child and combining it with the more childlike sensibilities that we have.
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