The young stars of Stranger Things have had something special since day one.
In newly-released clips of the kids’ original audition tapes, fans can clearly see what drew casting directors to the actors who would go on to become the heart of Stranger Things.
Casting director for the hit Netflix show, carmen cubasat down in a video interview with Vanity Fair to review the charming first audition tapes submitted by Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin, Gaten Matarazzo and Noah Schnapp, and discuss what landed each of them their respective roles.
During the interview, Cuba explained that she and the show’s creators, the Duffer Brothers, knew they would need to find young yet experienced actors, which is exactly what they got.
“The kids in the Stranger Things cast have not popped up out of nowhere—they’d been working really hard for years prior to us finding them,” Cuba told the cameras in the interview.
First up was Schnapp’s audition clip, which shows the now 17-year-old at the ripe age of 10, giving an emotional performance as Will Byerswho famously disappears into the “Upside Down” during the show’s first season.
“Noah’s audition was really special because he really informed our need for finding somebody who was young and innocent but who had a strong charisma that would keep the viewers interested in why these kids were dedicated to finding him,” Cuba said.
Before Brown, 18, skyrocketed into fame following her iconic role as eleventhe actress auditioned with a very emotional clip, which Cuba noted “was actually shocking that someone that young could do that.”
Cuba also added that she and the Duffers were impressed that the British actress—who was only 11 at the time—completed the entire audition process with a perfectly executed American accent, which she would end up using for the next four seasons of filming.
Wolfhard, the actor behind the lovable Mike Wheelerauditioned from his bed while dealing with an illness, although Cuba claimed “none of that showed. You could tell he had energy and life and was really excited to play the part.”
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McLaughlin, now 20, auditioned as a 13-year-old for the role of Lucas Sinclairand his impressive summary had the casting director convinced from day one.
“Caleb was fantastic. He’s somebody who’d been on Broadway; we knew he had experience and he just brought sort of an energy that the other kids fed into.”
Last but not least was Matarazzo’s first audition clip for the role of Dustin Hendersonwho has stolen the hearts of Netflix viewers.
“You couldn’t have predicted or sort of sought out someone like Gaten,” Cuba stated during the interview. “He was an excellent surprise. What he brought to the character was not what we imagined and it also made us realize that we didn’t even have any idea what it could be until we met him.”
“He was sort of the first one that created the part outside of how it was written from the very beginning,” she added.
Clearly, Cuba’s casting decisions paid off, as Stranger Things was awarded an Emmy in 2017 for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series.
Season 4 of the Netflix series has also earned 13 nominations for the upcoming 2022 Emmy Awards.
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