Stranger Things director says this season 4 cameo was 'one of the biggest Rubik's Cube challenges'
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Stranger Things season 4.
Stranger Things season 4 has many big reveals and cameos, but one in particular led to what executive producer and director Shawn Levy calls "one of the biggest Rubik's Cube challenges" of his career.
With Max (Sadie Sink) chosen as the next victim of Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower), the new villain on the scene in Hawkins uses his psychic abilities to haunt her with visions of her dead brother, Billy. Dacre Montgomery returns to the role in episode 4 after having been killed off the show at the end of season 3.
"Dacre is a good friend and someone I have been a massive fan of since the first line of his Billy self-taped audition. When I read that I got to bring back Billy, I was over the moon," Levy tells EW of directing that episode. "But here's what's crazy: Because COVID scuttled all of our production plans in the midst of an already massively ambitious season, Dacre could not leave Australia to film his scene.
Courtesy of Netflix Max (Sadie Sink) reads a letter to her dead brother Billy in 'Stranger Things' season 4
"It was rescheduled again and again and again, and there were lockdowns and protocol updates and more lockdowns and more stringent border restrictions," the filmmaker continues. "So with the clock running down, we had no choice but to have me direct over Zoom [with Montgomery] in Australia on a soundstage, while I had already shot the scene in a cemetery with Sadie Sink a year earlier."
As Max reads a letter to her late brother at his grave, Vecna starts taking control of her body, casting an illusion that transports Max's mind into a dark cemetery. She hears someone calling her name from beyond the mist and turns to see Billy's bloodied form walking toward her.
Netflix Dacre Montgomery as Billy in 'Stranger Things' season 3
"I've been waiting to hear those words, Max, so very long," Vecna tells her under the guise of Billy. "But it wasn't the full truth, was it, Max? I think there's a part of you buried somewhere deep that wanted me to die that die, that was maybe even relieved, happy."
Montgomery's performance was digitally inserted into the shot with Sink later on. "That sequence in episode 4 was one of the biggest Rubik's Cube challenges of my directing career, figuring out how to put Billy in that cemetery with Max, without the ability to put Dacre in the same country as Sadie," Levy says.
Montgomery expressed his gratitude for being able to reprise the role in an Instagram post Monday. "Feeling extremely fortunate to have been able to shoot these scenes during the pandemic in my hometown, Perth (in Australia)," he wrote. "What an absolute blessing to work with such an incredible local crew and [Levy] directing on Zoom!"
Stranger Things season 4, volume I is currently streaming on Netflix. (Read our full recap.) Volume II will drop July 1.
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