11 “Stranger Things” Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

By all accounts, this series shouldn’t have been made, but the story behind Netflix’s Stranger Things is as fractured and fantastic as the adventure at its center. So how did the show come to be, and what happened behind the scenes? We know you need the answers, so read on, and discover the truth.

Warning: There will be spoilers.

The Show Was Originally Set On Long Island, New York
When Stranger Things was first announced in press releases, it was originally titled Montauk (named after Montauk, New York on Long Island). The town was in reference to the area of one of Stranger Things‘ actual inspirations: the government projects conducted at Camp Hero or Montauk Air Force Station called the Montauk Project. The setting was eventually moved to Indiana.

Stranger Things Was Rejected At Least 15 Times Before Netflix Bit
Creators Matt and Ross Duffer told Rolling Stone in an interview that they were rejected between 15 to 20 times by various networks before scoring a deal with Netflix. The problem, network execs couldn’t tell if the show was for kids or adults.

The Cast Auditioned Using Scenes From Stand By Me
According to Entertainment Weekly, the Duffers and casting director Carmen Cuba (great name) auditioned 906 boys and 307 girls for roles on the series. As part of the kids’ auditions, the young actors were told to read several parts – half of the audition scenes were culled from the Strangers Things pilot episode. The other half of the scenes were from Stand By Me – an obvious inspiration.

Winona Ryder Based Joyce After An Iconic Meryl Streep Character
If you’re a fan of classic Meryl Streep, and you’re familiar with Winona Ryder’s work, you might be able to figure out who Joyce Byers was inspired by. As the Duffers told Vulture, the Ryder was the person behind the nuanced development of Joyce Byers. Ryder handed the Duffers a photo of Streep in Silkwood and said, “This is Joyce. This is what she’s gotta look like.” It all makes sense, too – Stranger Things is set in 1983, as is Silkwood.

Charlize Theron Played A Big Role In Eleven’s Look
When the Duffers told Millie Bobby Brown that Eleven has a shaved head, she was predictably hesitant. Luckily for everyone, Mad Max: Fury Road was featured in just about every entertainment magazine known. According to Entertainment Weekly, the Duffers had to use the example of a real-life actress to convince her. “Fortunately, Mad Max: Fury Road was about to come out, so we pulled out a magazine photograph of Charlize Theron as Furiosa and showed it to Millie,” the brothers told the magazine. “‘Charlize looks totally badass, right?’ Millie agreed — Charlize looked badass. And that was it: She agreed to buzz it all off.”

There’s A Whole Backstory For The “Upside Down”
We find out a little bit about what the Upside Down is in the first season, and we find out even more about it in season 2, but viewers have only scratched the surface in terms of just how intricate and detailed it is. In an interview with Variety, Ross Duffer revealed that there’s a very specific 30-page summary about the Upside Down. The working document addressed “what it all means, where this monster actually came from, and why aren’t there more monsters.” Expect to learn a lot more

Shannon Purser’s Barb Has Become An Instant Favorite And Turned Her Into A Cult Figure
You couldn’t tell from her work on screen, but Stranger Things is Shannon Purser’s first acting gig. Soon, Purser quickly became as popular as her character and according to Glamour magazine, she had to quit the job had at a movie theater in Georgia after season one debuted. According to her, Stranger Things fans keep showing up to get look at her in her natural habitat and take photos.

The Kiss Between Lucas And Max Was Each Actors’ First Kiss
Think about your first kiss. It was probably a little awkward, and little sloppy, and probably a little stressful in working up to it. Now imaging performing your first kiss in front of around 200 or so people… while it’s being filmed and documented for life. According to Sadie Sink (Max), her “first kiss was in front of 200 extras, and their extras, and the crew, and my mom,”  again, on camera and available to with the click of a mouse. The cherry on top was when the entire cast and crew applauded after the kiss.

Holly’s Best Moments Were 100 Percent Improvised
Like most young child actors, The character of Holly was actually played by twins Anniston and Tinsley Price. Stranger Things is only their second movie credit (the identical twins had the recurring, but uncredited role of Judith Grimes in five early episodes of The Walking Dead), but they proved to be naturals. As the Duffers told Entertainment Weekly,“[Anniston and Tinsley’s best moments in the show are improvised. When Holly watches the family argue in in “Chapter One”… When she gets upset by Dustin and sinks into her chair in “Chapter Two”… When Joyce asks if she saw something in the wall and she confidently replies “yes”… None of that was scripted.”

Sean Astin Auditioned Old School And Submitted An Audition Tape
Actors who submit audition tapes are usually rookies just getting their start. To a seasoned vet, submitting an audition tape is almost unheard of, and almost desperate. But that’s just what Sean Astin (The Goonies, Lord of the Rings) did because he loved the show so much. Originally, Sean auditioned for the role of Murray Bauman – a journalist who only gets four episodes. The Duffer brothers had doubts about Astin being too famous, thus being a distraction (Hello, Winona?), but they upgraded him to the role of Bob Newby and expanded the part for the entire run of season two.

Bob’s Death Scene Was Inspired By Another Modern Classic
As bad as Sean Astin wanted to be in the Stranger Things cast, he didn’t want to leave so when the Duffer brothers killed his character off, it was a bitter reality for all involved. The brothers said, narratively, Bob’s death was the right thing to do for the life of the series, so they gave him a proper death. Bob’s death scene was inspired by the brutal death of Quint, the fisherman played by Robert Shaw who was torn apart in the movie Jaws.

Photos: Netflix, except Silkwood (20th Century Fox) and Mad Max (Warner Bros)