As you all probably know, The Stranger Things took the whole world by storm, and literally everyone is talking about the show — we mortals, celebrities, writers, directors - you name it. And who can blame them? This thrilling 8-episode Netflix sci-fi/horror/drama series is absolutely amazing, and definitely worth binge-watching (you can finish it in a day if you try hard enough). You don't trust me? Ask the critics and they will praise it for its cast (trust me, it couldn't be better), acting (amazing, especially the kids, I didn't know they could act that well), characters, atmosphere, directing, writing, and, of course, those amazing homages to the '80s horror and sci-fi films.You still haven't seen it? Well, what are you waiting for? You have no idea what you're missing out!
For those who have seen it, here are 15 Stranger Things facts that you probably didn't know about.
15 The show is full of references to cult sci-fi and horror movies
Every '80s horror/sci-fi movie fan who had seen Stranger Things immediately noticed how similar the show is to some of those cult classic movies. Well, that was intentional! The Duffer brothers, creators of this show, watched a lot of those movies growing up, and of course, that's where they got their inspiration. Even some of the story lines resemble those movies. For example, the part where the boys ride their bikes and hide someone with communication problems is a homage to Spielberg's E.T. "If you’ve watched the first episode of our show (and we assume you have if you’re reading this!), it’s probably clear to you that we love the films of the ’70s and ’80s. We grew up particularly obsessed with the movies of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, as well as the novels of Stephen King," explained the brothers.
14 The Duffers brothers created a "look book" in order to sell their show
One would think that this amazing show would've been sold immediately, right? Well no, that wasn't the case with Stranger Things. The Duffer brothers were rejected 15 to 20 times by numerous networks — some of them didn't like the idea of a show featuring four kids as lead characters. Crazy, I know! So in order to sell the show, the brothers made a little Stephen King-inspired look book. "In the front cover, we made it look like an old Stephen King book, and we had a very similar font in the red and the outline and there was a bike that was just on the ground that was lost. It's funny, it's a year-and-a-little-bit later and I'm seeing these billboards with this bike on the ground," said one of the brothers in a recent interview.
Hey, this can be a lesson for all of us — never give up!
13 906 boys and 307 girls auditioned for Stranger Things
This series wouldn't be as good if there wasn't for the amazingly talented cast. Of course, finding all these talented people wasn't that easy, and The Duffer brothers would probably agree with that. I mean, they had to audition 906 boys and 307 girls. Can you even imagine how it took them to do that? "Casting is always a challenge," the Duffer brothers said, "even more so on a show where four of the leads are 12 years old. A cringeworthy child performance will kill a movie or show like almost nothing else. We’ve found that the key to finding good kid actors is actually rather obvious: You just have to audition pretty much every kid in the world who wants to act."
12 All the boys auditioned with scenes from Stand By Me
Dustin, Caleb and Mike, the main characters in the show, are best friends, so naturally the actors who played them had to be really good, have a good chemistry, and actually get along. That is why Matt and Ross Duffer decided to have the kids who auditioned for the main roles read selected from Stand By Me, a 1986 drama movie that features four of the best child performances in movie history. "We flew the finalists to Los Angeles, read them together to test their chemistry, and cast our gang," said one of the Duffer brothers. "The kids came from all over the place: New York (Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin, and Caleb McClaughlin, who plays Lucas), Canada (Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike), and the UK (Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven)."
11 Stephen King tweeted about Millie Bobby Brown a few years ago
Before getting the role of Eleven, Millie Bobby Brown was in a BBC show called Intruders. You didn't know that? Well, Stephen King did! In 2014 he tweeted how "terrific" she is, adding that child actors have become better than they used to be. That is so amazing! I can only imagine how much that helped Millie in her career. I mean, getting recognized by the king of horror himself is a big deal! And not only is he a fan of Millie, but he also loves Stranger Things. Only two days after the show premiered, he tweeted about how fun the show is, giving it an A+ grade, and praising Winona Ryder. Of course, he probably also noticed all the references and homages to some of his work — I guess that's why he said Stranger Things is like a "Steve King's Greatest Hits".
STRANGER THINGS is pure fun. A+. Don't miss it. Winona Ryder shines.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) July 18, 2016
Watching STRANGER THINGS is looking watching Steve King's Greatest Hits. I mean that in a good way.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) July 17, 2016
10 Millie wasn’t initially told that she'd have to shave her head for the role
Millie Bobby Brown had to shave almost all of her hair off for the show. Of course, her being just a young girl made it a bit difficult. OK, "a bit difficult" is an understatement — it was a terrifying idea for both her and her parents. So it was up to Matt and Ross to convince her to shave the hair off. And guess what? They did it. How? With the help of Charlize Theron (Not really. Well, kind of.) "Fortunately, Mad Max: Fury Road was about to come out, so we pulled out a magazine photograph of Charlize Theron as Furiosa and showed it to Millie. “Charlize looks totally badass, right?” Millie agreed; Charlize looked badass. And that was it: She agreed to buzz it all off," said the brothers, adding that Millie's father ran away with tears in his eyes right before she got her hair shaved off.
9 One of the boys' voice changed so much during filming that they couldn't use him for ADR
ADR stands for "additional dialogue recording" or "additional dialogue replacement". Basically, it is a process where an actor re-records and synchronizes some audio parts. It's a pretty common and standard thing to do in the movie industry. But when it came to ADR in Stranger Things, the producers had a small problem. One of the boys, Gaten (who plays Dustin) had to re-record some of his lines, but because he hit puberty, his voice started changing really fast — so fast that it came to the point where his voice was too low. As the producers explained: "His voice has already dropped quite a bit, to the point where we couldn’t even do ADR with him. We had to pitch it way up. It’s dropped. He’s grown."
8 Caleb McLaughlin requested to wear that camouflage bandana
We can all agree that Caleb McLaughlin, who plays Lucas, is a very talented young boy. Before getting this role, he even acted on Broadway. Fancy, right? But not only he's good at acting, he also has some cool ideas. According to the creators of the show, Caleb insisted to wear that badass bandana. "It was Caleb’s rather insistent request that Lucas wear a camouflage bandana in the show. He wears it for the final three episodes. Sometimes our kids have great ideas, and this is one of those times," said the brothers to Entertainment Weekly.
7 The gang formed a text group in order to get to know each other
The main characters of the show are best friends. They're #squadgoals. But the show's creators were scared that the kids wouldn't be able to make their friendship look convincing on camera. So the Duffers realized that the fastest way to make these kids act like best friends is for them to actually be best friends. And fortunately for them, the kids were of the same opinion, so before the filming even began, they started a group chat, and formed a close bond. "Luckily, without our prompting or knowledge, the kids formed a text group and began incessantly texting each other over the summer. By the time they arrived in Atlanta, they were already a close-knit group", told the Duffers to EW. "The hope, of course, was that this would translate when the cameras were rolling; would nerves mess them up?"
Yes, it did translate to the screen, and it was very realistic and convincing. Great job, kids!
6 The adorable Holly Wheeler was actually played by twins
Holly Wheeler is the cutest character in the entire show. Seriously, she is so adorable, it's unreal. But what you probably didn't know is that the character of Holly Wheeler was actually played by two girls - the identical twins, Anniston and Tinsley Price. Move over Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, new adorable twins are in town, and they're ready to slay! Do they maybe look familiar to you? That's because they were also in The Walking Dead, where they played Judith Grimes.
Another interesting fact about Anniston and Tinsley is that they were really scared of the monster. It would be terrifying for them to see the Monster on the set, so they had to lie to them that Monster is not evil, but good, and that it comes from Monsteropolis from Monsters, Inc. After that everything was good.
5 Some of Holly’s moments were unscripted
Anniston and Tinsley are very young, so it's normal for them not to remember their lines. I mean, come on, they're only 4 years old. However, in an interview for EW, Matt and Ross Duffer (who are also twins) revealed that even though they are very young, Anniston and Tinsley are total professionals — when they forget their lines, they improvise! Tiny geniuses. One of the improvised moments was in Episode 2 when Holly slid down in her chair after being upset by Dustin. The second scene was in Episode 3 when Joyce asked Holly if she saw something in the wall, and Holly confidently said, "Yes." The Duffers said that they have no idea which twin was acting in that scene, but they sure were impressed!
4 Stranger Things was the first acting role for Shannon Purser
Barb was seriously one of the best characters of the show. She was kind, caring, and an amazing friend (where can I get one of those?). She was played by Shannon Purser, and a lot of people were surprised when they found out this was her first acting gig. I know! She was so good, it's really hard to believe she had had no experience before this. Even Matt and Ross were amazed by her. "Shannon Purser who played Barb, we fell in love with her," they said. "She had never acted before, this was her first role in anything, she blew us and everyone away."
I couldn't agree more. Her character and her acting were on point – both fans of the show, and critics agree with that. Now we can only hope that all this positive reception will bring her more amazing roles.
3 The water scenes were not easy to shoot
Some of the most suspenseful scenes in the show were those where Eleven was inside the sensory deprivation tank. It was stressful for us viewers, but it was also stressful for the creators of the show, and the whole team that worked on it. A lot of effort was required to make those scenes happen. Millie (who plays Eleven) had to wear a small radio earpiece while she was inside the tank, so she could communicate with the directors. Also, that helmet she wore was really heavy — weighed 75 pounds (ca. 34 kg) out of water (luckily, only 15 pounds (ca. 7 kg) when submerged). And remember those scenes where she floats in that kiddie pool? It took over 1200 pound (ca. 545 kg) of epsom salt to help Eleven float.
2 The monster was achieved through a combination of prosthetics, animatronics, performance, and CG
We still don't know what it is or what it's name is, but we call it the Faceless Monster, The Beast, the Upside Down monster, or Demogorgon. All we know about it is that it dwells in the Upside Down. And that it looks scary AF. Well, that's because it was created using prosthetics, animatronics, performance, and CG. Spectral Motion, a company that works with animatronics, was responsible for bringing the Duffers brothers's design into life, and they nailed it. According to the brothers, the monster look very realistic. "Their brilliant robotics engineer had designed the animatronics in such a way that the movement of the head “petals” never repeated themselves. They had a life of their own, moving in unpredictable and bizarre patterns. It felt organic. Creepy. Real," described it Matt and Ross. And for those scenes that a man wearing the monster suit couldn't do, turned to their team of visual effects artists, who were responsible for all of the CG shots.
1 The Duffer brothers have a very long document about the Upside Down
Unfortuntely, the season finale of the show didn't really explain anything about the Upside Down and the beast (duh, they're saving that for season 2). But what we know so far about the Upside Down is that it is some sort of a parallel/alternate dimension to ours, which also happens to be the home of Demogorgon, the faceless beast. However, the Duffer brothers have it all figured out already. "There’s a lot there we don’t know or understand. Even with the Upside Down, we have a 30-page document that is pretty intricate in terms of what it all means, and where this monster actually came from, and why aren’t there more monsters — we have all this stuff that we just didn’t have time for, or we didn’t feel like we needed to get into in season one," Stranger Things' masterminds revealed.