Noah Schnapp, who plays Will Byers was in summer camp when Stranger Things launched on Netflix in 2016. He had no idea how big the show he had filmed months prior had become. Until he came back from camp and the global scale of the show’s popularity hit him.
In an exclusive interview, the 13-year-old talks about his character’s bigger arc in the new season (which starts streaming on Netflix on October 27), how the show’s success has improved his craft, and what he would like to say to people who crave spoilers.
WARNING: If you haven’t seen the first season of the series, read at your own risk. 😉
The show became an instant hit. What was that like for you, and how has your life changed?
NS: Honestly I’m still really just me. My life hasn’t changed drastically, but it has. Just all this attention the show has gotten and the love and support from countries across the world; it blows my mind. And I think that’s what really shocked me the most, was how we all thought it was just, we’re like a small little family. We’re just doing a little show. And then it becomes this huge hit on Netflix and people in Brazil are watching this show.
When did you realize the show was a hit?
NS: When the show was released I was actually in summer camp. So I didn’t know what was going on. So when I came back it all hit me, everything. And I was just in shock about everything. And that’s when it just hit me and life changed, I guess.
What does it feel like to be a part of a show that’s so important to people?
NS: I feel very professional now, now that I’m a part of such a prestigious show. It feels so cool to be a part of such a big hit. And that among all the boys that auditioned I was that one lucky person who got to play this role and I just find that really cool.
Remind us where season 1 ended for your character and where season 2 starts off.
NS: In season 1 at the very end, we left on a cliffhanger where Will throws up the slug and obviously something’s going on with him. So they’re basically setting up season 2 and the aftermath of what happened in season 1. So in season 2 it gets darker and they get more into Will’s story and what’s to come of not just me but just the entire cast and the town and what’s going on in the world. And Will starts seeing visions that other people don’t.
How is the Upside Down affecting Will as we begin the new season? Is it truly controlling him or is it just in his head?
NS: I think the Upside Down is real because people have died in it and you can’t die in a fake place. Like Barb [played by Shannon Purser]. I miss you, Barb. The Upside Down is the habitat for the monsters.
How does Will change over the season and how does his mom, played by Winona Ryder, react to those changes?
NS: In the beginning of the season, I go back to just being a normal boy. I get annoyed when she embarrasses me and I just bike with my friends, we play D&D again and I get back to my happy, normal life. Then as the show progresses and some bad things happen, I think my mom realizes that and she starts getting more scared and worried for me. And she’s trying to do something about it but obviously, just like season 1, everyone always thinks she’s crazy.
How does it feel to play a bigger part this time around?
NS: It’s nice to know that I can just stay here and stay with my friends and the crew and everyone and just, it’s a real bonding experience.
There’s a new character named Max, played by Sadie Sink, this season. How does her character fit in?
NS: Max adds a new layer to the show because she’s part of a storyline with Lucas [played by Caleb McLaughlin] and Dustin [played by Gaten Materazzo] that is their little love triangle.
Talk about what’s going on in the Hawkins Lab. Are things different there, or are they the same?
NS: I don’t understand Dr. Owens’ [played by Paul Reiser] motivations. He’s brought everything back to peace but I feel like everyone feels there’s like a little eeriness in him. And we try to see what happens with that.
Will is getting tests done at the lab. Just how involved is he with the lab?
NS: It makes him more embarrassed at school and he doesn’t get to his social life because of all this crazy monster stuff that’s been going on. And he feels like he’s the only person who really knows what’s going on and other people don’t understand what he sees.
How is this season gonna be bigger, crazier, more exciting?
NS: The Duffers said it would be darker and it definitely is darker. There are new monsters and new stories. It’s just darker and more evil.
What’s it like working with the Duffers and Shawn Levy again? How have things changed working with them?
NS: It’s all the same. Nothing’s really changed working with them. I love how on different episodes we get to work with different directors because it gives us different chemistry and perspectives from different directors, so we get to bond with a different person every few episodes. It’s cool.
How do you think being on Netflix has benefitted the show?
NS: I feel like Netflix is its own unique platform because you can watch everything in one viewing without having to wait the next week and maybe you’ll get lost off the show and then forget about it. I feel like that’s an innovative new way to show people a TV show.
What message do you have for the fans who rallied behind season 1 and are desperately waiting to see season 2?
NS: They all want spoilers. But once you get the spoiler then what’s the point of watching the show? When you watch the show you’re gonna see it and you’re– you should be excited because it’s cool and it’s different and it’s amazing.
There’s a great secrecy around the show. How have you adjusted to it?
NS: Last year was much more relaxed because we didn’t know what was gonna happen. It was just a small little show being filmed in Atlanta. But now that it’s such a big show, they had meetings with us in the beginning of the season not to say anything. We can’t say anything. And every day we have to give it [the script] back to them because we can’t leave it lying around anywhere. They’re really strict. But it’s good because you don’t want stuff getting out.
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