Stranger Things is back to kick off the spookiness—and that irresistible feel-good '80s charm (The Goonies' hero Sean Astin is the newest member of the cast!)—for Halloween 2017.
The second season of last year's surprise hit promises to take the adorable BMX-riding gang of Dustin (Gaten Matarrazo), Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Mike (Finn Wolfhard)—now reunited with buddy Will Byers (Noah Schnapp)—and their missing telekinetic pal Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) on a brand-new thrilling adventure that'll likely further uncover the mysterious occurences in small town Hawkins, Indiana.
Ably supporting these kids in their quest are the ageless Winona Ryder as Will's gritty mom Joyce and erstwhile underrated character actor David Harbour as alcoholic but heroic police chief Jim Hopper. In this FHM exclusive courtesy of Netflix, Harbour, who will star in comics great Mike Mignola's Hellboy reboot, guarantees Stranger Things 2 will live up to, if not surpass, the acclaim garnered by this life-changing series. “We’re really excited to make Season 2 even better,” says the 42-year-old actor. "We know that what we have is gold. And we don’t want to sit back on our heels about it. We want to even bring you something richer."
What was your reaction to the response to Stranger Things Season 1 succcess?
DH: I was overwhelmed from that first weekend really. I have about 100 numbers in my phone, of which I call about 10 people. And I remember that first weekend [after the series debut], by about Sunday, from every single number on my phone I got a text from people that was just like, “Oh my God, the show’s amazing.” And that had never happened. I’ve done a ton of work in this business. People will occasionally say things like, “It’s great,” but never like this.
And then things started coming out, like, “Which Stranger Things character are you,” and things like that, and all the fan art and everything. And so I really knew that we had kind of like a zeitgeist on our hands that was crazy because it was across all sorts of spectrums. I’ve rarely done a show that’s been so widespread in its adoration. And so that was extraordinary. I was very overwhelmed by it.
How has that changed your life?
DH: It’s presented a lot more career opportunities for other stuff. I [also] found that I was getting tweets from big burly guys in like the Midwest with goatees and telling me that Hopper made them want to be a better man. And things like that where I was like, "Wow!" We moved people who maybe ordinarily don’t get moved by television because of certain conventions that are kind of bull shit around television. I was able to portray this flawed, messed-up ordinary man who does heroic things. And I think it touched people in a way that I’ve never been able to touch people before. And I was very proud of that. I think that was something Stranger Things fans gave to me that I never anticipated.
How have Will's rescue from the Upside Down world and his apparent connection to it still affected Chief Hopper's town?
DH: Will’s sort of getting a mental mind connection with this spider figure that we see. And he’s kind of the link between these two worlds. So I think Hopper is trying to learn all he can about this world sort of through him. Will is Joyce’s kid and he did save him. And now Will’s having all these problems. He’s clearly very concerned about how to deal with this situation. And as the episodes go on you see that it gets more and more complicated. I think Will is a very special kid.
Will the Hawkins Lab once again torment you and the gang in Season Two?
DH: There’s a new chief of the Hawkins lab, Dr. Owens who's played by Paul Reiser (Mad About You). He seems like a better guy, but the jury’s still out! He seems a lot more sort of amenable and trying to really fix situations and trying to include us. I mean, Hopper still has some issues with all these guys. The fact is, now we’ve got a bigger evil to fight in this thing that we’re aligned with Hawkins lab in a sense, fighting this Upside Down world. So it’s a different Hawkins lab.
What was it like getting back together with the original cast? Have those relationships deepened?
DH: We are a lot closer. And I think the success of the first season, we really didn’t know what we were making. I always thought it would be good, but we didn’t know how special each other were. Everybody brought so much life and so much richness and complexity to the characters. And so I think there’s a lot more appreciation of each other coming into the second season. In that way, we’re really excited to make season 2 even better. And we’re really excited to work with each other. We know that what we have is gold. And we don’t want to sit back on our heels about it. We want to even bring you something richer. So, we feel that pressure every scene that we know that could be great if we bring something to it. And so that’s a great feeling. It’s a great pressure to have.
You finally get to have scenes with the amazing Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven, this season. What’s it like working with her?
DH: I think Millie is great young actress. I think she’s a lot of talent and a lot of gifts. I worry for all these kids with the success of the show because I know I want them to be able to be kids, too. And the difficult position that I’m put in is I have to treat her like my leading lady. Which is, I have to invest everything in making the scenes as rich as they can be. And in that way, we have to dig into this complicated material together. And I’ve never done that with a 13-year-old before. And I’m just sort of learning as I’m going. Because in a weird way, we are sort of the only ones who can still treat her like a kid because we knew her before she was super famous. And so in a way I can still treat her like a kid. And I value that position.
What’s it like from a performance standpoint working with creators the Duffer Brothers (identitical twins Matt and Ross)?
DH: I’ve never had creative relationships like this that have been so good and so collaborative. I feel like we understood each other very early on even in Season 1. We kick ideas around all the time. And I’ve never had that relationship with show writers before. I’ve never had that relationship with the people in movies and TV before. So this is a very new thing. It’s a real credit to their openness and their trust in their performers. I think they really do trust me and they trust my instincts and my impulses. And they trust my aesthetic and as I very much trust theirs.
When people watch all of season 2, what do you want them to feel or take away from this new season?
DH: I just want them to have a rip-roaring good time and be on the edge of their seat, which I feel like they were in the first season. And I feel like they really will be this season. One of the things I really loved about season 1 and that I hope that we continue to capture in season 2 is I love when people cry when Hopper saves the kid at the end. And you see those flashbacks with his daughter. And you see that journey from him being this drug addict guy from the beginning who learns to breathe by the end of it. And I watch people and I myself tear about it when you see him just, "Please, let this kid live. Please let this kid live." Then he does live. And you’re thankful. So I want people to have that same emotional experience in a very different arc. I want their hearts to be sort of broken open and feel more empathy for others around them as a result of going on this journey.
Stranger Things 2 will start streaming on Netflix on October 27