Netflix’s “Stranger Things” has one of the largest ensemble casts on television, and that was true even before the just-released fourth season added new actors like Jamie Campbell Bower and Joseph Quinn to the mix. A growing cast makes it difficult for every actor to get their turn in the spotlight. Since “Stranger Things 4” debuted on Friday, many fans have claimed Charlie Heaton’s Jonathan got “sidelined.” Jonathan is mostly used as stoner comic relief in the new episodes and is not involved in the main storyline set in Hawkins.
“I know why you’re asking that,” Heaton recently told GQ magazine when asked about the show potentially sidelining him. “And I’ve definitely seen some forums like Screen Rant or something — ‘What happened to the character?’ It is an ensemble cast, obviously every season they’ve brought in new characters, wonderful characters, and they’ve taken the story to different places.”
Heaton then pivoted to what he loves about “Stranger Things 4,” although it’s not his storyline: “The Hawkins storyline this year is totally out of ‘Nightmare on Elm Street.’ It’s really exciting to see the show go in that direction.”
The material Heaton has been given so far (seven episodes of “Stranger Things 4” debuted on May 27, while the final two will launch on July 1) mostly involve his character wrestling with his long-distance relationship to Nancy (Natalia Dyer).
“We find him in a place of questioning himself and his relationship,” Heaton said about his arc this season. “You want the people to be invested in them. Sometimes it blurs into one. Me and Natalia have been together for a long time, so you’ve even got to separate it yourself sometimes.”
The growing “Stranger Things” cast is part of the reason Millie Bobby Brown joked before the fourth season started that characters need to start getting killed off. “We need to have the mindset of ‘Game of Thrones,’” Brown wisecracked. “Kill me off! They tried killing David Harbour off and they brought him back! It’s ridiculous … [Showrunners] the Duffer brothers are sensitive Sallies who don’t want to kill anybody off.”
The first seven episodes of “Stranger Things 4” are now streaming on Netflix.