It’s only been over a year since Stranger Things first graced our screens, but it feels almost impossible to remember a time when we were unfamiliar with Demogorgons, supernatural Christmas lights, and, of course, the Upside Down. It also seems like we’ve known the show’s stars forever, and that probably has something to do with the fact that they’ve appeared on one red carpet after another since the series first hit Netflix. We quickly grew to love the kids on the show, from Millie Bobby Brown—who expertly portrayed psychokinetic Eleven before slaying Hollywood’s fashion game all year long—to the group of preteen boys (played by Gaten Matarazzo, Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin, and Noah Schnapp), who continue to entertain us with their adorable bromances on Instagram.
With season two set to drop on Oct. 27, we can’t wait to see the group back in action. And according to 15-year-old Matarazzo, who plays Dustin Henderson, plenty is about to go down—including a time jump. “Season two takes place about a year after the events of season one, so it's the fall of 1984,” Matarazzo said when he stopped by InStyle’s NYC headquarters last week. “It really focuses on how Noah’s character, Will, is doing. Because really, the story of Stranger Things is about Will. Sure, it’s cool to have the funny kid with the hat and the one with the powers and everything—but the show is about Will. This season captures that, and you see him more—not just in flashbacks or the Upside Down, but he's with us. He's one of the boys now—and he always was, but no one saw that side of the relationship.”
Our final glimpse of Will last season was quite alarming, to say the least. A month after he returned from the Upside Down, he was throwing up a slug-like creature from the alternate dimension. Now, we’ll find out how he’s fairing a year later. “You get to see how Will's coping with everything that’s going on with him, and he's not doing too well,” said Matarazzo. “He's pretty sick, and we're all trying to help—but we just don't understand.” While we’ll be catching up with fan-favorite characters, Stranger Things will also be making some fresh introductions. “There are several new characters,” said Matarazzo. “I got to work with Sadie [Sink], who plays Max, the most. She's the ‘new girl,’ or at least, that’s what everyone's calling her. But Max is a great character and adds a cool new dynamic to the show. She really impacts some specific characters—but I’m not going to say which ones.” Scroll down for our full chat with Matarazzo.
VIDEO: 11 Questions with Eleven: Millie Bobby Brown
When fans of Stranger Things approach you in public, what’s the first thing they say?
Usually just that they like the show—and I really appreciate everyone that watches the show. I feel like we all work pretty hard, so it's great that it's getting the recognition I think it deserves. But in the past week, more people have come up to me saying they know me from the Verizon commercial, which is really funny. That’s happened a few times. They're like, “Mr. Peterson!” It's a lot of fun.
If you could choose one dream guest star to appear on Stranger Things, who would it be?
I'd like Stephen King to make an appearance. Just even a quick cameo. I'm a big fan of his work—I always have been.
Stranger Things has a ton of famous fans. Which celebrity were you most excited to learn watches the show?
I know that The Rock likes the show, and Zac Efron. I haven’t met either of them yet. Also Sterling K. Brown and Donald Glover. I love both of them—they’re amazing. It's cool that so many celebrities have watched the show, but they really are just people. They watch shows just like everyone else does. You definitely appreciate it when the people you look up to appreciate your work, too, but really we're all just people. So I just think of it like that.
What have you watched lately that you really liked?
I just started watching Ozark, which is really good. Most stuff that I can watch is Netflix, because I don't have time to wait for premieres to come out. I'm always busy, and I can't make a commitment to a show because I know I'm going to miss a ton of episodes and forget to DVR them. But I want to start watching The Flash. And I'm all caught up on The Walking Dead, of course.
What was it like to be back on set for season two?
It was awesome, kind of like a big family reunion. But it took a lot longer, and it was a more stressful season to film. Last season was a lot more laid back, and nobody was stressed out about living up to anything because they didn't have anything to live up to. Nobody knew that it was going to be a good, original, fun show. Now that people are really enjoying it and want to see more, you've got to make sure they're satisfied—and that's stressful. But I think the reason that the first season was so successful was because the cast had fun together—and I really hope that doesn't fade away as we continue. I don’t want that fun and joy of being on set to turn into work, even though it is work and we work very hard. It definitely shows on camera when you're having fun and when you're not.
With all that stress, do you still find time to be a kid?
I try. I go to school, which is the most “kid” thing you can probably do. I'm a sophomore in high school right now, and I'm trying to focus on that as much as possible. I don't want to grow up too fast. A lot of people say that based on the way I talk, I've already grown up. But that's definitely not true. I still have much to learn about the world and where I live, what I want to do, where I want to go. I'm still very young, and I still have a lot of time to learn. I really hope that I can still keep being a kid, but with everything that's been going on right now, it's kind of hard. I’ve gotta act like an adult right now.
What's goes on behind the scenes when you guys are filming?
There are funny moments all the time, but we spend most of our time with each other at school. A lot of people think it would be filming, but most of the time we're on set, it's for school. I really love the environment there, and I love hanging out with the kids because I'm able to talk to them about everything. That school room is where I'm making most of my high school memories.
It’s like Stranger Things High School.
Stranger Things High School. That's exactly right.
Who's the biggest jokester out of you guys?
We joke around a lot, and we all have very different senses of humor. But we're all, I’d consider, funny. We laugh at each other, and it never gets old. Caleb is very physical with his humor, and he makes us laugh with his different accents. Noah is the same way, but he's got an innocence to him—he's just like my little brother, I love that guy so much. But for biggest jokester, I’ve got to go with Finn on that one. On set, he always makes people laugh just by laughing himself. He always looks like he's having the time of his life.
Of your co-stars, who would you say is least like their character?
Probably Millie, because she’s not really a psychopath. She’s no Eleven. Actually, I've got to say Caleb is the least like his character. A lot of people consider Caleb’s character, Lucas, to be the angry one, but he's not. He's the one that’s looking out for everyone as much as possible. I really think he's misunderstood. In real life, Caleb is a lot more energetic and open and accepting than Lucas. Caleb makes you feel like you're his best friend within the first five minutes of knowing him, whereas Lucas is pretty stubborn and serious. He's more of an acquired taste.
What's the coolest thing on the set—the Upside Down?
I mean, it's cool, but it loses its charm when it's just plastic-looking things. It all has to do with lighting. When they add that greenish glow to it, that's when it really kicks off. But right now it just looks like a fake little plastic thing that you pick up and throw to the side. The one scene was really cool when Barb was trapped in the Upside Down, and she was in the swimming pool where she dies. It was really well done and looked scary—she was covered in goop and everything. That was one of the coolest scenes that I got to see play out.
There are a few days between the season two premiere and Halloween. Last year, Eleven was one of the most popular costumes. What do you think will be the ultimate Stranger Things costume this year?
I feel like people are going to dress up as the Ghostbusters from the season two trailer, but when they walk in, everyone is just gonna think they're regular Ghostbusters. Because that's really all they are. I can't say the ultimate Stranger Things costume yet. You’ve gotta wait. I know exactly what it would be, I just can't talk about it. It comes out October 27th, so if you watch all of it before Halloween then you can make your costume. I’ll give you a little teaser: it wouldn't be that hard to make.