Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp, Caleb McLaughlin, and Gaten Matarazzo have massive star power, thanks to their breakout roles on a little retro sci-fi series known as Stranger Things. But ever wonder how they landed their parts on the hit show?
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Carmen Cuba, the casting director for Stranger Things, broke down the casting process and shared insight into how the Hawkins crew landed their roles. Rather than scout potential talent on the streets, Carmen knew that she needed to go to theater schools and acting coaches and find kids who had some experience in the industry.
“The kids on the Stranger Things cast have not popped up out of nowhere,” she explained. “They’ve been working really hard for years prior to us finding them.”
Noah’s audition for the role of Will was “really special,” Carmen shared.
“It really informed our need for finding somebody who was young and innocent, but who had a strong charisma that would keep the viewers interested in why these kids were so dedicated to finding him,” she continued.
The level of emotion in Millie’s audition tape — a performance that has sparked a flurry of memes — shocked Carmen and the Duffer Brothers. Equally impressive was her dedication to the character throughout the course of casting.
“She’s British, and she did everything, including the Skype with the Duffers, in an American accent,” Carmen said. “So we sort of forgot that she even was British, so she’s pulling all of that acting off while also doing an accent. And at that young age, it was very impressive, as you can see on the series.”
Finn completed his audition while sick in bed, but still wowed the casting crew.
“You could tell he had energy and life, and was really excited to play the part, and had sort of the same playful, adventurous spirit as his character,” Carmen shared.
Caleb’s experience on Broadway and amiable spirit made him a no-brainer for the role of Lucas. “He just brought sort of an energy that the other kids fed into,” Carmen explained. “All of them together have a very distinct energy and personality that they create this friend group and we saw that immediately from his very first audition.”
The final member of the OG Dungeons & Dragons crew, Gaten as Dustin, was an “excellent surprise” for Carmen and the others.
“You couldn’t have predicted or sought out someone like Gaten,” she said. “What he brought to the character was not what we imagined and it also made us realize that we didn’t even have any idea what it could be until we met him.”
An already iconic actress with credits in films such as Beetlejuice, Heathers, and Little Women, Winona Ryder did not audition for the role of Joyce Byers, Carmen shared. David Harbour was another actor she felt pulled to, and knew “immediately” after his audition that he was meant to be Hopper.
A+++ casting across the board, in our humble opinions, and we simply cannot imagine Stranger Things without any of these actors.
“Stranger Things was not that difficult to cast,” Carmen concluded. “The material was excellent and that always makes the job of casting much easier.”
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