In the wake of Netflix’s smash hit Stranger Things, fans are clamoring for more content focused on the show’s darling cast members. Since the show’s release in July, we’ve already learned that David Harbour feared that show creators Matt and Ross Duffer would select a “big star” to play Jim Hopper (Hawkins’ gruff but lovable chief of police), that Gaten Matarazzo really does love chocolate pudding, and that Winona Ryder believes the disorder people most associate her with isn’t kleptomania.
And as we wait for more of our burning questions to be answered (Has Caleb McLaughlin ever actually played D&D? Does Matthew Modine ever punctuate the end of sentences by tapping someone’s nose?), this lucky writer managed to score an interview with possibly the biggest break-out star of the project: The Demogorgon!
I had the amazing opportunity last week to speak with “D-Gon” via FaceTime (or should I say, Tulip-FaceTime…I kid). He’s currently kicking back at his Palo Alto ranch, and was kind enough to give us the 411 on life after the Upside Down:
So, how did Stranger Things come to you?
Right time, right place…and I’m just blessed, you know? I had just finished putting a tape together for Niantic’s Pokemon Go, but there was something about it and me that didn’t feel right. So, my agent suggested I send the tape to Matt and Ross to see what they thought. If I told you that I originally auditioned for Mike Wheeler, would you believe me?
Yeah, but the guys were adamant that Mike have, you know, a face.
And your character…how did that come together?
Very organically. The guys knew they wanted something that could scare the bejeezus out of you, even if it was usually moving pretty slowly. They showed me their mock-ups, which were mostly based on pictures of Sarah Palin they’d pulled from Bing. They were TOTALLY AWESOME about letting me add my spin, and just try to do what felt natural for the role.
Yeah, sometimes it seemed like your character moved really slowly and other times you were sneaky fast?
(Laughs) Yeah, a lot of the best 80’s monsters didn’t outrun you. They were already where you were running, you know? I thought that piece was critical. With my character, I think he was just kind of camera shy. It seemed like he was only moving quickly when somebody almost caught a glimpse of him. I told the guys that I’ve never been much of an athlete so we should probably try to keep it in low gear. It took us like 20 takes to get the scene right where Natalia (Dyer, who plays Nancy Wheeler) spots me outside Steve’s house and after 10 or so, I was gassed. I was like, Finn (Wolfhard, who plays Mike Wheeler)…lemme borrow your skateboard, man!
I think it was Winona who said that you were considered quite the jokester on set.
Yeah, I do try to keep it light, just to keep everyone present, you know? Like, I remember the day we were shooting the scene where I first come through the wall at Joyce’s house, and we’d been going for like 9 hours. Everybody was running on fumes. So, I come through the wall and I go, “Oh Yeah!” like the Kool-Aid Man. Cuz, come on this is supposed to be the 80’s…right? I think it got everybody’s spirits up, and we hit the scene on the next take.
Have you stayed in contact with the cast?
Matthew (Modine, who plays Dr. Martin Brenner) and I have exchanged some emails. He’s trying to build support for a Vision Quest sequel. You know, strike while the iron is hot on the throw-back stuff. He thinks he’s got a part for me. I’m not sure how realistic that is, but I was like hell yeah man!
It seems like the show left a lot of questions unanswered. Do you have any thoughts on the Upside Down, why your character was able to open portals other than the portal Eleven opened, what you were doing with the humans that you took into the Upside Down since you apparently weren’t eating them, how Will managed to escape from you, how Will managed to manipulate the lights to communicate with his mother, how you were able to track Will in the first place when it didn’t appear that he was bleeding, what the egg was that Hopper encounters, what the slug was that Will pukes up, whether Eleven is still alive, or what the “H” stood for in Tommy’s last name?
I don’t know why, but I always thought Harris. He just looked like a guy whose last name would be Harris, you know?
Totally. Any other upcoming projects we should aware of?
I’m putting the finishing touches onto a buddy comedy that I co-wrote with Galifianakis. We’re playing a couple of rabbis who get mixed up with the mob and…yeah, hilarity ensues. And I just can’t believe nobody is doing a Mr. Robot podcast. A friend was like, dude, why don’t you do it? I’m seriously considering that. It’s like basically Breaking Bad good, and I don’t say that lightly.
And now you know I have to ask: Have you heard anything about Season 2?
(Chuckles) Man, I’m not sure I’d be the first one they’d call! Millie (Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven) kind of does a number on me there at the end. But I was joking with Shannon (Purser, who plays Barb Holland) that you know they’re gonna find a way to bring her back. I told her she better put in a good word for me too! Or, you know, I’d kill her again…
Yeah, poor Barb.
It’s sort of like Jay-Z says…we’ll see what happens when I no longer exist. Hey, it worked for Kit, right?