After three years away, Stranger Things made its grand return on Saturday night in New York, with its stars unveiling season four of the Netflix hit at a world premiere event in Brooklyn.
“It’s a big relief,” Gaten Matarazzo told The Hollywood Reporter of finally bringing the new season to the world. “It’s been three years since we released our last season and working on it has been a long process, but we’re so glad to finally be at a closure with this season. It feels like the never-ending season, it just won’t stop, but we’re finally here.”
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Much of the delay between the seasons was, of course, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with shooting forced to shut down in 2020 and then slowly resuming six months later.
“We’ve been waiting so long to finally get it done and give it to the fans who are begging me, ‘Please, when is the season coming out?’” added Noah Schnapp. “And I’m like, ‘Here it is, we’re finally done.’” Season four will pick up where the third season left off, with Eleven (played by Millie Bobby Brown) losing her powers and moving away from the show’s central location of Hawkins, Indiana, with the Byers family in an attempt to find some normalcy in California.
“You get to see him out of that supernatural environment that we’re used to seeing him struggle and fight against,” Schnapp teased of what’s ahead for his character, Will Byers. “This is just his high school normal struggles his, and it’s really nice to see that side of him.” And though he’s living in a new city, don’t expect a new look: “You are going to get the bowl cut and you guys better love it because it’s not going away,” he teased.
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Season three also set up a new challenge for David Harbor’s Jim Hopper, who has been taken prisoner by the Russians, as the actor confirmed, “He’s in a really bad place. He’s in a brutal environment both externally and internally, in a weird way.”
Harbor, who walked the red carpet at the Netflix Studios Brooklyn event in a blinged out Stranger Things ensemble that he joked was “my love of the show expressed like Elvis,” also commented on his affinity for characters who end up in Russian prisons, after following a similar trajectory with his role in Black Widow.
The coincidence “was not planned, but the internet will not let me live it down,” he teased. “Yes, I had a nice little Marvel character called Alexei Shostakov, the Red Guardian, but he’s a very different person. The prison is the same, but we have the failed Russian super-soldier who is locked up, and then you have someone who is literally known as the American in the prison; he’s the cowboy, he’s the trope of this American from the ’80s movies that you want to see defeat the Russians. They’re very different characters, but yes, they are both in a Russian prison. I apologize for those casting directors’ horrible choices.”
Season four also sees the characters entering high school while in real ife, most of the actors are entering their adult years, after having started on the show as 12- and 13-year-olds.
“You never really see the passage of time when you work with adults and then you see these kids,” said Harbor, “you actually see them become adults and it’s both terrifying and beautiful. I think Hopper’s letter expresses it quite beautifully, it’s like, ‘I love you and I don’t want you to change,’ and I think that’s the nature of life: Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad and I’ve seen all of it with these kids.”
Of her experience growing up on set, Sadie Sink said, “I don’t know what we would do without each other, just because it’s such a weird position we find ourselves in — an amazing position but it’s different than what other teenagers we know are experiencing. So to have each other and relate on all of this whole wild journey is very special and essential.”
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Joe Keery, who was in his mid-20s when the show began and calls the young cast his siblings, joked he’s seen them all get “very tall and deeper voices and they’re all getting taller.” He has also been inspired by their work ethic and success, he said, and with the upcoming season five as the official end of the Stranger Things journey, he shared his hopes for his character Steve’s ending.
“I just want the guy to be happy and I don’t think it’ll take much,” he proposed. “Nice home, nice job, maybe a lady that he loves.”
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Inside the premiere, Netflix had transformed the space into a high school-inspired gym, where the cast danced to songs ranging from Fergie to Whitney Houston. A dance-off even broke out between Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin — which McLaughlin may have won by landing a backflip. And for those of legal drinking age, the afterparty featured signature cocktails “The Hellfire Club” and “Upside Down Negroni.”
Stranger Things season four will release in two volumes, with the first coming May 27 and the second set for July 1.
Neha Joy also contributed to this report.
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