Skip To Content

    14 "Stranger Things 4" Behind-The-Scenes Facts You Might Not Know, But Should

    Two actors filmed a single, pivotal scene on different continents, a year apart.

    Warning: Spoilers (and demogorgons) ahead! Seriously, if you haven't watched the entire season (or the seven episodes that have been released so far), bookmark this for later. 

    1. Noah Schnapp told Insider that he's asked the Duffer Brothers to change his character Will's bowl cut, but alas, Will can't get a break, from either the Upside Down or the Stranger Things hair and makeup department.

    Will with a bowl cut

    Schnapp said, "I've talked to them so many times like, 'Hey, are we thinking about a new cut for Will?' There's one more season left, but they're pretty loyal to that cut. I think it is a true kind of '80s classic haircut. So I don't think we're gonna lose it anytime soon."

    The kids in "Stranger Things" looking at something

    2. In an "Interview from the Hair Chair," Millie Bobby Brown said that it takes about an hour to apply Eleven's shaved head wig. (Back in Season 1, her head was shaved for real, but not this time around.) Her makeup is much simpler; Brown said that at most, she's only wearing "a bit of mascara and some blush."

    Affixing the shaved head wig to Millie Bobby Brown

    3. OK, one last hair one: One of the new additions to the cast this season is Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast and potential Satanic panic scapegoat Eddie Munson, played by Joe Quinn.

    A guy with '80s hair making a funny face

    Quinn told Entertainment Weekly that pulling off Eddie's '80s look, which he described as "very David Bowie in Labyrinth," involved two weeks of wig fittings. The final product was effective, but itchy.

    David Bowie in "Labyrinth"

    He explained, "Unfortunately, I'm not David Bowie, so I didn't think that I could pull that off. I wanted something that was normal, of this world, more like a mullet. But we compromised. I mean, it's still objectively ridiculous, but it serves the character really well. It's very useful as an actor to put something on and instantly you feel like you're looking at a different person."

    Joe Quinn smiling in his '80s outfit

    4. Murray, aka everyone's favorite conspiracy theorist (who just so happens to be on the money with 99% of his conspiracies), spends the first part of Season 4 talking up his karate abilities. Joyce is understandably concerned when he reveals at a key moment that those karate abilities have only been tested in sparring matches against teenagers, but Murray comes through and emerges victorious.

    Murray looking at someone

    That he wins is a relief to Joyce and Murray both, and probably to Murray's actor Brett Gelman, too, since Gelman spent three months training with karate instructors. He told GQ, "I took it very seriously. Murray is a black belt. And so I felt like, if he’s a black belt then I need to make that look as authentic as possible. And they already were setting me up with a karate trainer. I think that I trained more and requested to train more than they had originally anticipated that I’d want to. For three months — two months before the shutdown and then a month leading up to shooting — I was with these amazing trainers, Simon Rhee and Phillip Rhee, who are Taekwondo masters."

    Murray and Joyce stand outside in the snow

    Gelman called the experience of training "healing," since he wasn't particularly athletic as a child. He explained, "Feeling that I can pick these things [karate and speaking Russian] up so quickly at 45 years old feels like oh, wow, I am in my prime."

    Murray and Joyce sitting

    5. Sadie Sink told the LA Times that while filming, she journaled in character as Max "for a few minutes every night." She explained that this exercise is "a common thing you do in theater school growing up.”

    Sadie Sink as Max stands with the guys outside

    6. In one of the season's most memorable moments, Max breaks free of Vecna's death grip through the power of hearing her favorite song: Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)." According to People, the song reached number one on iTunes by the Monday following the season's release.

    Max suspended in the air in a cemetery

    7. At the Season 4 premiere, Joe Keery (Steve Harrington) said that co-star Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson) is "like the 60-year-old uncle that I never had." He added that "bickering with Gaten" onscreen "feels very natural" to their real-life dynamic.

    Steve, Dustin, and Max in a car

    When asked about the uncle comment in an interview with Esquire, Matarazzo responded, "Yeah, that sounds about right. I think it flip-flops. I feel like there are certain days in which I'm just the giggly little brother, and then there are others where I feel like I'm the child wrangler."

    Dustin pointing in the woods; Steve looking skeptical

    8. According to a profile in the New York Times, the Duffer Brothers write in the same Google Doc while "facing each other." Close creative collaboration aside, Matt Duffer said that going on a writing retreat would be their limit, joking that it "could end in a double murder — or just a murder."

    9. One of the most popular fan theories amongst Stranger Things viewers is that Will, who has struggled with his friends' focus on girls and dating as they've gotten older, is gay, asexual, or otherwise queer. Noah Schnapp told Variety that he appreciates the ambiguity of Will's portrayal, because it leaves room for the audience to interpret the character themselves.

    Schnapp said, "I feel like they never really address it or blatantly say how Will is. I think that’s the beauty of it, that it’s just up to the audience’s interpretation, if it’s Will kind of just refusing to grow up and growing up slower than his friends, or if he is really gay.” Millie Bobby Brown added, "Can I just say, it’s 2022 and we don’t have to label things. I think what’s really nice about Will’s character is that he’s just a human being going through his own personal demons and issues. So many kids out there don’t know, and that’s OK. That’s OK to not know. And that’s OK not to label things."

    Eleven and Will walking through a school hallway

    Schnapp said that although people want to "put a label on [Will]," he's "just confused and growing up. And that’s what it is to be a kid.”

    Will, Mike, and Eleven at a dance

    10. Dacre Montgomery, who played Max's cruel older brother Billy, appears for a brief cameo this season, in which the monstrous Vecna taunts Max (Sadie Sink) as Billy. Though the scene is emotionally intense, with the grieving Max quite literally coming face-to-face with her trauma, the two actors didn't film together. In fact, they shot the scene on two different continents, nearly a year apart.

    Billy in the dark

    Director Shawn Levy explained to Entertainment Weekly, "When I read that I got to bring back Billy, I was over the moon. 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."

    Billy in the dark

    With "lockdowns and protocol updates and more lockdowns and more stringent border restrictions," Levy said that he ultimately decided to direct Montgomery remotely (over Zoom, no less). This was a year after Levy shot Sink's portion of the scene; Montgomery's performance was digitally merged with hers in a bit of pandemic-era movie magic.

    The digitally edited scene of Billy and Max

    Levy said that the scene was among "the biggest Rubik's Cube challenges of my directing career." On Instagram, Montgomery wrote, "Feeling extremely fortunate to have been able to shoot these scenes during the pandemic in my hometown, Perth (in Australia)."

    Friends, this is where things get really spoiler-y, so I'll say it again: All Ye Who Enter Here Better Have Watched All Seven Episodes.

    11. Jamie Campbell Bower told Variety that he purposefully isolated himself before shooting to better get into character as the sociopathic-telekinetic-turned-inhuman-beast Vecna.

    Bower explained, "For Vecna, there’s this deep, deep, deep resentment. It’s his fuel, so I really had to tap into that, and I consider myself not somebody who holds onto resentment. So, digging that up from within me was quite a lot. I mean, I wouldn’t speak to people. I wouldn’t speak to anybody outside of the Stranger Things world for at least four days before filming anything."

    Vecna

    Before he is transformed into Vecna, he is One, formerly known as Henry Creel. After murdering his mother and sister, and framing his father for the crime, One becomes Dr. Brenner's very first test subject. He is later forced to remain in the secret facility as an orderly, looking after the super-powered children Dr. Brenner designed in his image. He manipulates a young Eleven into removing the microchip that weakens his abilities, then wreaks bloody havoc on the other young test subjects and their minders, before Eleven banishes him to the Upside Down.

    One talking to Eleven

    Bower used Post-it Notes to remind him of One's motivations and the twisted kinship he feels with El. He said, "I would write post-it notes and stick them all over wherever I was living at the time. They said, ‘it’s all for you’ or ‘be nice to her’ or ‘she’s like you.’ I had mood boards, photographs, kind of everywhere, both from the show and external as well, and just built that up."

    12. Of course, Vecna's extremely unsettling backstory is only topped by his extremely unsettling appearance. Bower told Variety that getting Vecna-fied took around seven and a half hours, meaning that he started his day at 3 a.m. Removing the costume took another hour.

    A full body shot of Vecna

    13. In an interview with the Verge, Season 4 prosthetics designer Barrie Gower revealed the secret to Vecna's viscous appearance: a layer of lube.

    Vecna grabbing someone

    Gower explained, "On the day he has to be super slimy, so we use products like K-Y Jelly. There’s a product called UltraWet, which is kind of like a clear gel that we’d slather all over him. It’s the kind of thing where on set you’d put your hand on his shoulder and regret you did it because you’re covered in slime."

    slimy Vecna

    14. And finally: David Harbour, who plays Hopper, wore an (extremely stylish) custom suit to the premiere. It featured portraits of the show's characters and settings.

    David Harbour in the blazer

    Harbour told Vogue, "It’s unexpectedly heavy. I love it. It’s its own funky object d’art. The embroidery and the rhinestones are hard not to love.” Touchingly, Harbour wore the suit as a tribute to his late mother. He explained, "My mom was a big Elvis fan, and this is the first premiere of Stranger Things that she has missed. Her pride in me and her love of the show warranted some wild ‘Elvis-y’ expression this year.”

    David Harbour showing the back of the jacket

    Harbour plans on auctioning off the suit and donating the proceeds to War Child to contribute to "their impressive work protecting the young in war torn countries."

    David Harbour talking onstage