For much of the first season of the popular sci-fi series “Stranger Things,” young Will Byers spent his time trapped in the ominous alternate dimension, the Upside Down, trying to establish communication with the outside world—all the while fending for himself against a menacing humanoid monster.
That meant that Noah Schnapp, the 13-year-old actor who plays Will, missed out on quite a lot of action with the rest of the cast. But, he didn’t mind—after all, his character is expected to be a crucial figure in the Netflix series’ coming second season, which goes online on Oct. 27.
“I didn’t feel [left out]. For the first season, I’d fly in to shoot, then fly out. But for the second season, I was there [on location] the whole time, so it was a much better experience for me,” Noah told reporters in a roundtable interview in August.
“I didn’t know what was going on until I saw the show. Then, I was like, ‘Whoa, they did all these!’” he said.
“I enjoyed seeing everyone looking good in the show,” he said of his costars Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven), Finn Wolfhard (Mike), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) and Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), whose natural and oddball rapport has been one of the bedrocks of the nostalgic, 1980s-themed show created by the Duffer Brothers.
Although he didn’t get much screen time with his young coactors, Noah did get to work closely with Winona Ryder, who plays Will’s mother, Joyce. The experience, he said, was “amazing”—and one that proved to be instructive.
“She was so sweet and helpful with everything. One time, I was very worried about a particular scene, so I texted her and sent her a part of my script. I asked if she’d mind going over it and giving me some advice,” he recalled. “The next morning, she came in early so she could talk to me and helped me through it.”
Winona also made sure to look after Noah. “In a scene where Hopper (David Harbour) had to do CPR on me, she was worried that they might press too hard on me,” he related.
Noah described his character as “quiet” and “introverted”—which is different from his personality. “I’m not like that, but I had to embody my character, so I could play him right and be natural,” he said.
If there’s one similarity between Noah and Will, it’s the strong bond they have with their siblings. “Will is very close to his brother, Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), while I have a twin sister, Chloe,” he pointed out.
Like the rest of the cast, Noah was extremely tightlipped even on the slightest of details about “Stranger Things 2.” But, he did talk freely about his favorite part of the series: That scene in the pilot episode where Will, Mike, Lucas and Dustin are playing “Dungeons & Dragons,” the fantasy role-playing tabletop game.
“None of us knew how to play it; we just pretended!” he admitted. “But, we had a lot of fun, because at the time, we didn’t know how things would unfold. They said we were going to shoot just one season; that no one was going to watch it, so it was fine. We had a good laugh [about it].”
But, people tuned in. And now, “Stranger Things” is one of the most popular titles on Netflix. “There was barely any promotion, no nothing,” Noah said. “Then, all of a sudden, it was being watched and talked about.”