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‘Stranger Things’ Season 2 Has Larger Scope, More Horror, Duffer Brothers Say

Variety logo Variety 6/7/2017 Arya Roshanian
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The cast and creative team of “Stranger Things” hit the Emmy campaign trail Tuesday evening for a special event at the Netflix FYSee Space in Los Angeles.

Stars including David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp and Finn Wolfhard were joined by series’ creators/executive producers, Matt and Ross Duffer, for a screening and panel discussion of the first season. Actress Winona Ryder, who portrays Joyce Byers, was unable to attend.

Since its premiere last summer, “Stranger Things” has earned critical acclaim, and a fanbase that is wild for the inhabitants of Hawkins, Indiana and the Upside Down. Outside the venue, massive crowds of fans enveloped the block in hopes of gaining entry into the screening. As guests ate themed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, such as Chief Hopper Sandwiches with turkey, cranberries and cheddar, more fans attempted to snap photos with their favorite characters along the red carpet. Amid the crowds, most of the cast expressed their amazement to the series’ success, but no one seemed more surprised than the Duffer Brothers, who described the phenomenon as “surreal.”

“Last year when we were making the show, we were just worried that we weren’t going to get anyone to watch it at all,” said Matt Duffer. “There was this concern that the show was going to be this little blip in pop culture, so we were just thrilled that people were watching it. And it just snowballed from there.”

Ross Duffer continued: “When we did Season 1, we were still learning a lot — we were pretty inexperienced. The goal [for Season 2] was ultimately to do what we did in Season 1, but better.”

As fans anxiously awaits Season 2, the fates of certain crucial characters remain unknown, such as Eleven, who is played by Brown. However, plot details have been kept tightly under wraps by nearly the entire cast and creative team. Brown, who was vague to disclose in what context her characters returns, teased that second season will explore Eleven’s past in finer detail.

“I mean, nothing too big has changed — we’re still that small show [that filmed in] Atlanta,” Brown told Variety. “But we do dig into the lives of the [younger] characters a bit more.”

Executive Producer Shawn Levy, who directed two episodes in the first season, agreed that although Season 2 has a slightly different tone, the driving force of the plot will still focus on character development.

“There is a lot of talk — and I’ve contributed to it — about the move to darker threats and a larger cinematic scale, but here is the thing: ‘Stranger Things’ works because we root for these kids and we root for these damaged characters who live on the margins,” Levy said. “Everyone is struggling with that feeling of being a bit on the outside looking in. But we know that what really brought us here are the characters that people connect to and that feel authentic … so Season 2 is every bit as loyal to characters first, and spooky second.”

“It’s a little bit bigger, and the horror factor goes up,” Matt Duffer said. “There are more characters, and we spend more time with different characters. The scope is larger and moves faster.”

“Stranger Things” returns to Netflix with nine more episodes on Halloween Day.

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