Stranger Things executive producer and director Shawn Levy has revealed the second season of the Netflix smash hit series — Stranger Things 2 — will feature Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) at the center of the adventure.
While Schnapp was integral to the first season of the series as the young boy who mysteriously vanished in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, he spent most of his time trapped in the upside down while his friends and family searched desperately for him. But for season two, Schnapp was upgraded to a series regular.
At a recent Netflix red-carpet event, Levy opened up about Schnapp’s increased involvement telling Mashable that Will is at the center of the follow-up:
“When we cast the kids, we cast Noah Schnapp as Will Byers knowing that he was only in a small amount of Season 1 because he was missing. And we cast him because we knew that kid was special. Even if we weren’t going to call on his full reservoir of abilities in Season 1. Will Byers is very much at the center of Season 2. Noah steps up in the most staggering way. The Duffers and I, depending on who’s directing when, we keep sending texts to each other going, ‘holy shit, Noah is crushing it’ and we knew he had it in him, and it’s really now to get in that moment, and put him firmly in the thick of story.”
Levy also dished on the most important element of the series — the characters that audiences fell in love with last summer when it skyrocketed to a pop-culture phenomenon:
“As much density of story as our show has, we have to service the characters — and the moments and relationships between characters — above everything,” he noted. “If we stop being character-anchored, and we become pure genre, I think we take the beating heart out of Stranger Things, and we take the thing that people maybe don’t write articles about the most, but I think it’s what they love the most — these characters on screen.”
For season two, the series has added Sean Astin as Bob Newby, the manager of the local radio shack and new boyfriend of Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) as well as Dacre Montgomery (Power Rangers) as Billy and broadway star Sadie Sink as Max, two step-siblings who recently moved to Hawkins.
Levy revealed that the second season has evolved somewhat to play to the strengths of the supporting actors just as it did in season one:
“I will say that we have found the performances of our actors consistently inspiring, and bringing in people like Sean Astin; this new kid, Dacre Montgomery; this new kid, Sadie Sink… as we’ve seen the work they’re doing in episodes, the Duffers, recognizing strength, are making sure to service those characters even more over the course of the whole season,” he teased. “Perfect example, in Season 1, Steve Harrington was going to be a much more sparsely-used character. We saw what Joe Keery was doing, and we rewarded that with more story, more nuance, more dimension. The same thing is happening with a lot of the new characters this year.”
After season two was greenlit, both The Duffer Brothers as well as Levy didn’t want to be caught off guard in the (likely) event of another renewal from the streaming service so they began to look to the future envisioning four to five seasons with the dream being a Harry Potter like situation watching the young kids grow into teenagers over the course of the series. But Levy revealed the problem then became that the Duffers came up with too much story resulting in some ideas not making it in and being saved for future seasons:
“As the episodes were written by the Duffers, they realized that there was too much story for nine episodes. So it forced us to be judicious in which stories we tell this season,” Levy pointed out. “So one of the surprises was, not all of our grand ideas are going to be serviced in one season… If we had 40 ideas going into the season, 30 [we] are going to pick, and the rest go in the back of our head for, hopefully, future chapters.”
Stranger Things 2 is nearly in the can with production coming to a close in the next few weeks. Stay tuned to Heroic Hollywood for the latest news on Stranger Things as we learn it.
The adventure continues in the fall of 1984 as the world is turning upside down. Stranger Things 2 hits Netflix this Halloween.