With mysterious monsters, a girl with superpowers, and a whole bunch of ’80s references, there’s so much to love about Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” And while it’s easy to get distracted by all the magic that happens on-screen, we can’t forget about the interesting work that goes on behind-the-scenes as well.
Before getting picked up by Netflix, the Duffer brothers’ idea was rejected multiple times.
The estimate is that their pitch was rejected 15 to 20 times, mostly because networks wanted it to be either a kids show or a show about Jim Hopper (David Harbour).
The show was originally supposed to be based in Montauk.
It was even called “Montauk”– a nod to a conspiracy theory about a lab that inspired the story – before the show’s co-creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, decided to switch the setting to a small, fictional town. They later came up with the name “Stranger Things,” in part because it sounded like the Stephen King novel, “Needful Things.”
A list of the show’s alternate titles is somewhere out there. But Matt Duffer told the “Daily Beast” he hopes it’s never leaked because “it is so embarrassing.”
They auditioned 906 boys and 307 girls ahead of the first season.
Rather than have them read the actual scripts, the kids were asked to read scenes from the movie “Stand By Me,” according to Entertainment Weekly. Finn Wolfhard, the actor who plays Mike, was sick at the time, so he sent in a recording of himself reciting the lines from his bed.
Sadie Sink wasn’t originally a great skater.
It was Caleb McLaughlin’s idea to have his character, Lucas, wear a bandana.
According to the Duffers, McLaughlin insisted “that Lucas wear a camouflage bandana in the show,” and it turned out to be a good idea.
Millie Bobby Brown really does like waffles, like her character Eleven.
She just wasn’t crazy about the amount she had to eat. “The amount I eat is actually really hard to digest,” she said at Comic Con in 2016.
There’s a special trick that gives “Stranger Things” that vintage look.
The show’s colorist, Skip Kimball, added a layer of ’80s grain effect.
In order to make snow for the winter scenes, they needed a lot of ice.
They used 20 tons of ice, to be exact, which ended up being shipped from Florida.
Eleven was supposed to be killed off at the end of the first season.
Ross Duffer revealed that the show was originally pitched as a limited series, and Eleven was going to sacrifice herself at the end.
Good thing, too. By the time the second season rolled around, “Stranger Things” had become a must-watch. An average of 8.8 million people viewed it over the first three days following the release.
Sadie Sink’s audition with Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin helped create that love triangle storyline.
“They built the storyline of our characters based on how we worked together on camera,”Matarazzo told “Vulture,” adding that it’s “something [the Duffers] always do with their characters.”
McLaughlin had his first kiss – ever – on-camera. He admitted his dance smooch with Sink was good practice for the future.
The extras were excited to see the show’s main couple get together in the school dance scene.
Matarazzo told Ryan Seacrest that people were “fangirling over Mike [Finn Wolfhard] and Eleven [Millie Bobby Brown] kissing.”
Wolfhard gave Brown a bit of a warning before he kissed her. On “Beyond Stranger Things,” the two revealed that he whispered “I’m coming in” right before the big moment.
Approximately 150 wigs were used during the second season.
Noah Schnapp needed extensions in order to achieve Will Byers’ bowl cut, and David Harbour, aka Jim Hopper, had shaved his head, so he needed a wig as well. There were also a lot of wigs used during the Halloween scene.
There were times visual effects were used to make Eleven’s hair look super short.
The show’s executive producer and director, Shawn Levy, revealed that they didn’t have the heart to make Brown shave her head again, so they let her wear a wig and used special effects to “help make it look like a perfect match to the end of season one.”
Noah Schnapp received some coaching from his on-screen mum.
When the young actor was having trouble with a particular scene, he texted Winona Ryder and asked for some help.
“She came in like an hour and a half earlier than she was called in for and she brought me in her trailer and she talked to me,” he said. “She gave me tips and guided me how to do the scene. And she was like, ‘You’ll do it. You’ll do great.'”
The Upside Down doesn’t look as scary in real life.
While on a panel at New York Comic Con, Harbour revealed that the Upside Down from season one was really “purple piping that looks really fake” in person. It pulsates and makes a noise that he compared to being in “a bad haunted house.”
It took a lot of work — and a lot of money — to perfect that van flip.
Explosives were supposed to go off in order to make the van do its thing. When that didn’t happen, the van crashed into one of the cameras, destroying it, its lenses, and “costing the production thousands of dollars.” Thankfully, the second take worked out.
The kids get into arguments now that they have gotten to really know each other.
Brown admitted that the kids bicker over little things, using an example of “Who ate my chips?” McLaughlin agreed with that statement, saying, “It’s little remote control arguments.”
Harbour and Brown fought sometimes as well. Their scenes together were just so raw and emotional, and the two ended up really getting angry at each other, both on and off set.
The boys needed to be told to stop farting on set.
It was after one of them farted while filming an abandoned bus scene, and according to the Duffers, “it became so toxic in the bus that the crew had to temporarily evacuate.”
Gaten Matarazzo’s voice changed drastically while the show was filming.
They couldn’t even use him when it came time to do ADR, which is when they re-record the dialogue over the original recording.
The Duffer brothers may have been inspired by iconic ‘80s films, but they were also inspired by anime.
There are some references from an obscure, somewhat violent anime called “Elfen Lied,” where a girl escapes from a laboratory. But they say not many people have picked up on it.
The Duffers already have an idea for how the series will end.
“We have an end goal; we know where we want to go,” Ross Duffer revealed to Yahoo.”We’re not quite sure how long it will take to get there, but we do have a plan.”
The producers of “Stranger Things” got secret-keeping tips from the producers of “Game of Thrones.”
They had a lot of security protocols in case things were leaked. According to executive producer and director Shawn Levy, “[we had] code names for our production, and when you left the set you had to destroy your script pages because someone might go looking in a dumpster.”
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