LUCCA, Italy – “Stranger Things 2” stars Natalia Dyer, Joe Keery, Charlie Heaton, and Linnea Berthelsen made the trek Wednesday to the medieval Tuscan town of Lucca to promote the hit Netflix show at Lucca Comics & Games, a unique immersive event dedicated to fandom, cosplay and the whole world of comics, including movies and TV.
The four young actors sat down for an interview with Variety about their collaboration with the show’s creators, Matt and Ross Duffer; the dynamics of working with younger co-stars as well as more seasoned actors; and what they like, and don’t like, about their on-screen characters.
Joe Keery, who plays Steve Harrington, said the Duffer brothers “set a really collaborative tone from the top down,” including allowing the cast to improvise. “We will do things how they’re scripted, but they are also willing to kind of go to different places, or try different lines,” Keery said. “They want it to feel right; they want it to feel as natural as possible.”
Charlie Heaton, who plays Jonathan Byers, agreed. “What’s nice with the brothers is [that] how you work the scene out is very much the way that you want to do it,” he said. “You just go in and you play it out. They are never like, ‘This is here, and that is there.’ So there is creative freedom.”
“When you go to set, they just go: ‘OK, let’s see what you guys do!’” added Natalia Dyer, who plays Nancy Wheeler. “The camera moves around what you initially feel.”
Linnea Berthelsen, who came on board in Season 2 to play Kali, said she felt safe with the Duffers. “They know what they are doing. They trust their vision and they trust my vision,” she said. “They were asking me all the time, ‘Do you feel comfortable?’ They never said no to me. They never said no to anything. They just wanted to try different things, because obviously we were still creating the character and creating the mood.”
The actors said they considered “Stranger Things” a great way to hone their acting skills at this particular stage in their careers.
“I think being where we are, in our 20s, is a very precarious time for acting,” said Dyer. “You are kind of figuring yourself out. And there’s a lot of uncertainty about it.”
The kids on the show, such as Millie Bobby Brown and Gaten Matarazzo, “feel very free to play, and are confident in that,” Dyer added. “And the adults [such as Winona Ryder and David Harbour] also feel confident and have their method of going about it. We are not like a kid and also not like an adult, but kind of in the middle, just absorbing those methods and mindsets. It’s kind of special.”
As for what they liked the most, and least, about their characters, Heaton said he likes the fact that Jonathan Byers “knows very much who he is” and “the fact that he’s not afraid to be himself” – but he hates “his hair.”
Dyer’s favorite thing about Nancy is that the character has “grown a lot and changed a lot. That’s fun to play. The writers have been generous with this character,” Dyer said. But “I think she needs more girlfriends!”
Berthelsen called Kali “the least likeable person ever,” but said she had finally reached a point “where I really love this character and I really understand her now.” She admires Kali for being “really strong and determined,” but laments the fact that “she can’t connect with other people.”
Keery said he disliked how “self-absorbed” Steve is in Season 1. “But I think…that he’s learned about the importance of other people through his relationship with Nancy,” Keery said.