For the first time this season, Netflix is trialling an after-show about Stranger Things 2. I admit, I had no intention of watching it, but then suddenly Stranger Things 2 ended and I was a bit like, what do I do with my life? Ah! I’ll spend the next two hours watching Beyond Stranger Things 2.
Hosted by Jim Rash (yep, that’s Dean Pelton to you), Beyond Stranger Things 2 chats to pretty much every star of this season, plus creators Ross and Matt Duffer (a.k.a. the Duffer brothers) and director for a bunch of the episodes, Shawn Levy.
And it’s actually not bad, especially when you’re trying to figure out what to do with your life until Stranger Things 3. There’s a bunch of cool facts you can gleam about the show; here’s a few of the ones we picked up.
1. The Upside Down is not actually called the Upside Down.
Turns out, it’s actually called the Nether, but Stranger Things did this thing where the common saying accidentally became the new name.
The Duffer brothers and Levy were discussing how they kept calling this season’s antagonist monster, the Mind Flayer, a ‘Shadow Monster’ for the longest time, when Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) chimed in with, “We did that with the Upside Down. We called it the Nether.”
“Literally no one even knows this,” said Levy. “The Upside Down – the actual name for it is the Nether.”
It was referred to as the Nether in the scripts for the entire first season, but by ST2 time, it was faithfully restored to its rightful name of the Upside Down.
2. The ultimate bromance of Steve and Dustin almost never happened.
We’ve said it before: one of the best things to come out of Stranger Things 2 was the adorable friendship blossom between Steve (Joe Keery) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo). Suddenly there they are, Stand By Me-ing their way down the railroad tracks talking about girls. But that relationship was only written in to give Steve something to do.
“When we first pitched the season there was no Dustin and Steve bromance,” said Ross Duffer. “We realised that Dustin needed help because none of his friends were around. And then we also realised that Steve was just left alone by Nancy.
“We fell in love with this idea when we came up with it because we were like, ‘I think that will lend to some great moments of bonding,’ especially because these are two characters that are both a little heartbroken. So we thought that they could help heal each other.”
Protect this friendship at all costs.
3. The kiss between Lucas and Max was the actors’ first kiss!
And they had to film it at least ten times, because the poor, beleaguered steady cam operator kept missing Caleb McLaughlin‘s (Lucas) reaction.
“Our first kiss was in front of 200 extras, and their extras, and the crew, and my mom,” said Sadie Sink (Max). And now, in front of millions more.
Finn Wolfhard (Mike) and Milie only had to film their kiss twice, but Finn whispered to Millie, ventriloquist-style, “I’m coming in” right before their smooch – and if you watch it closely, you can see Finn’s lips move.
4. The Duffer brothers were held back in kindergarten for not socialising with other people.
And it later came out that during high school, they used to bail at lunch to go sit on the front of their car together, influencing a couple scenes in this season. Makes sense that these two would go on to create a show together that pays homage to all the best films of the 80s, no?
5. Finn auditioned for Stranger Things from bed.
All five of the kids had their audition tapes played, to the acute embarrassment of Finn and Millie. And while they were all pretty great (Gaten IS Dustin, and Millie’s pure emotion as a distressed Eleven is on another level), Finn’s audition tape literally came from bed.
“I’m Finn, I’m sick, and I’m 12 years old,” he said.
“I hope other actors can take away from this that you can audition from your bed, sick, on an iPhone,” said Rash.
“And that it doesn’t need to be in focus,” added one of the Duffer brothers. I can’t remember who.
6. Gaten Matarazzo was the first person cast.
I mean, how could you see Gaten’s cherub face and missing teeth and NOT want him in your 80s nostalgia TV show?
The Duffer brothers said they knew, straight away, that we wanted him in it, and cast him as Dustin quick smart.
7. Bob was never going to be the hero.
But when Sean Astin auditioned, the Duffer brothers realised they needed more of Bob on screen.
“We fell in love with Sean. I’m just going through these tapes, and then suddenly, it’s Samwise (Gamgee, from Lord of the Rings). Suddenly it’s like a lightning bolt,” said Ross.
He was originally going to be around to give Will some terrible advice about facing the Mind Flayer (“He was supposed to be clueless,” says Matt. “He was supposed to just be clueless. How would he know? You can’t put this on Bob”), but they developed his character to give Stranger Things more Sean Astin.
“He wasn’t intended to be that likeable, originally,” said Ross. “He wasn’t intended to be as big of a role, and then Sean came into the picture, and was just so much more than we ever expected. So all that stuff about ‘Bob the Brain’ and helping them solve the mystery, we were just like, we want Sean in here more, we want that energy. It’s good for Joyce (Winona Ryder).”
Bob’s violent death scene also came at the request of Astin.
“We were not going to make it as memorable as we did, and then he kept talking about Jaws and Quint being ripped apart, and I was like, alright man, we’ll do it,” said Ross.
RIP, my dude.
8. He was almost not cast because of the Goonies.
Astin, as you all (should) know, played Mikey in Steven Spielberg‘s 80s classic The Goonies. ST2 even dropped in a Goonies reference.
But the Duffer brothers almost didn’t want to cast him because of the connection.
“They actually hesitated to hire me because I was in The Goonies,” says Astin, “because the critical thing is you’re not distracted. So one of the coolest things for me, for Bob, is coming into the Byers house and seeing these walls and the floor and the ceiling all taken over with Will’s map.
So I think the X marks the spot is right up to the line, but again, I think Sean and Bob have crossover, cause Bob looks at it and he thinks it’s cute, like hey it’s a treasure map, that’s cool, and Sean, who was in The Goonies, walks over and goes hey, it’s a treasure map, I get what the writers did there, that’s kinda cool.”
9. Billy’s elation after scoring that under-the-leg basketball shot was legit.
Both Dacre Montgomery (Billy) and Joe trained for months with a coach called Bo Bell to get their basketball game looking legit. (And in actual fact, he makes a cameo as their basketball coach in the show.) Billy’s shot was meant to be something of a ‘fuck-you’ to Steve, so he’d been told not to try for the under-the-leg shot. But when he scored – and let’s be real, that ruled – Dacre couldn’t keep his chill.
10. Millie cried after filming her scene with Dr. Brenner.
Millie’s stand-alone episode – which has been dividing fans – included some of the hardest scenes she’s ever had to film. The worst, she says, was the one with ‘Papa‘, a.k.a. Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine).
“I just cried for like 45 minutes afterwards,” she says.
BTW, punk Eleven is my 2017 aesthetic.
11. Puzzles played a huge part this season.
And tbh, a lot of the folks involved – apart from the Duffer brothers – didn’t really pick up on it until Rash himself pointed it out.
“One of the things that I enjoyed was theres a lot of puzzle solving,” he said. “I think it was Chapter 4, when almost every character had a puzzle.”
“This is another revelation in the after show!” said Levy, his mind blown. “That she’s [Millie] doing a puzzle, when they’re setting up the cabin…”
“…Then Bob was he was bringing over his puzzle games,” continued Ross.
“It’s almost an evolution of how she solves,” said Rash. “You have Joyce from Christmas lights to crayon drawings, and she’s a little bit different in that problem solving.”
“Maybe next season she won’t put things all over her house,” said Ross.
“I don’t think it’s a season of Stranger Things if we don’t trash Joyce’s house,” said Levy.
Honestly. RIP to Joyce Byers’ house.
The entirety of Beyond Stranger Things 2 is available now on Netflix, if you want to get insanely nerdy + behind the scenes (of course you do).