Stranger Things Panel – NYCC 2016
If you need proof that everyone and their mother is into the Netflix original series Stranger Things, then all you needed was to be at New York Comic Con’s Main Stage 1-D on Friday morning. Despite it being the first panel of the day, it was an overflow crowd in the largest panel room at the Javits Center.
There were only two guests at the panel, Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) and David Harbour (Hopper). Not that the crowd minded. Each received a standing ovation. The moderator led them through a conversation behind the scenes of making season one of the hit Netflix original series.
When asked about the audition process, Millie said, “Eleven talking? No. I didn’t have to stare. I cried a lot in the audition. And that was it.” When they offered her the part, they told her. “We’re going to cut your hair off. Your name is Eleven. And you’re going to relate yourself to ET.”
David Harbour wore a hat to his audition. “I never do that,” he said. “But I thought this is a guy who likes to hide. The casting director said, “Hey man, do you want one without the hat?” And I said, “No, I’m good.” Obviously the hat worked.
In regards to finding the character of Eleven, Millie said, “When we were on set, I was like, I don’t know what to do, and then I was like, “I know what to do to break someone’s neck!” And Matt said “Never say that out loud again.” Good advice.
Millie had to have her head shaved on the day of the table read. Millie said that hair had gotten everywhere when they shaved her head, and she spent the entire table read scratching herself like a crazy person, because the cut hair that had stuck to her clothes was causing her to itch like mad. Though at the table read, her only lines were “Ugh” and “No.” Millie said she spent a lot of time thinking, “I’ve got to look like a child, but scary.”
Out of all the scenes, Millie said, “The bathtub scene was hard. I was like, “There’s a lot of salt in here.” But the most difficult shooting experience was with the Demogorgon. The suit that the actor wears who plays the Demogorgon is very thick. Because the suit was so thick, he couldn’t hear or feel anything. When Millie had a scene with him where she had to touch him on the back, he couldn’t feel her touch. The Duffers yelled at him to react, but he couldn’t hear him. Millie said something to him to get him to react and nothing, because he couldn’t even hear her. Eventually, they had to have someone kneel next to him and pinch his feet when it was time for him to turn.
Speaking of the Demogorgon, there were two toddlers on set, including Millie’s younger sibling. The Duffers had to tell the toddlers the Demogorgon was only a monster from Monsters Inc. And the toddlers said, “Okay!”
On the timing of Eleven’s nosebleeds, Millie said, “We’d load it (her nose) up. I’d say to the Duffers, “I’ll call action.” And I’d feel it (the blood) coming and say, “Action!” The timing was so good.”
In regards to playing a child from the 80s, Millie said, “It was good having David, and Wynona and Matthew Modine on set to tell me about the 80s. I was like, why don’t we just call Will on the phone?” And they were like, “No, Millie! You couldn’t do that back then!” The conversation then switched to the differences between how television is consumed now vs how it was then. David Harbour reminisced, “You know what I remember, when I was a kid, Michael Jackson’s Thriller video came out on MTV and my friends and I huddled around the TV for an hour waiting for it to come on.”
David Harbour was a huge D&D guy growing up in the 80s. Millie was surprised. “Wait, you placed D&D?” David responded, “Yeah, I’m a nerd. I’m a cleric. I’m a holy warrior of the light. A book in one hand and a big mace in the other.” Dungeons & Dragons is not Millie’s thing. “Dungeons and Dragons, can I relate it to Pokemon? Because I’m a Valor. It’s 2016. Be present. We play Pokemon Go now.” When asked if the cast played Dungeons & Dragons on set, David said, “If there was, I wasn’t invited!”
David commented that the cast and crew were amazed that Millie could put Eleven away when not filming. On the other hand, Hopper was close to David throughout the entire shoot, even when the cameras weren’t moving. “I don’t do the Jared Leto stuff of sending dead pigs to people. But I do have to carry it around with me. Atlanta is an easy place to be sad and lonely. I would just go home a lot and smoke cigarettes and dread my days. But it was good for the character,” said Harbour. Millie countered, “Your character is very sad and lonely, but you like coffee.” David questioned, “That’s happy thing?” Millie smiled while imitating him as she said, “But you always say, Flo get my coffee.” David then explained to the audience more of his method with acting around the kids off-camera. He said, “People ask about working with the kids. The first interaction I had with the kids was in the school telling them not to look for Will. That day, I was like, get my chair away from them. I don’t want to talk to them. At the time, they thought I was an angry weird dude.”
While the Upside Down looked creepy AF on the show, David said that in reality, “It’s super dorky. It doesn’t look like it does on the show. On the show, it’s amazing. On the set, there is bunch of purple piping that pulsates, so you feel like you’re in a bad haunted house. For the spores, there was a guy with a pillowcase filled with dandelion spores.”
Someone asked if the Stranger Things set was near The Walking Dead set. It turns out Millie is a HUGE Walking Dead fan. “I would have died if I was anywhere near the walking dead people,” she commented.
When asked which character from the show they would cosplay as, Millie said, “I might dress up as Poppa,” while David said, “I want to dress up as Barb.”
Speaking of Barb, David Harbour was very adamant when he said, “We won’t tell you anything about season two, but we will tie up some loose ends. And we will pursue justice for judge. I will assure everyone here that Barb is very much dead.”
David and Millie have a great give and take relationship with each other. This panel was a complete treat for any fans of Stranger Things lucky enough to get in the room.