Even though the success of Netflix’s favorite show, Stranger Things, might have seemed a sure thing, TV bigwigs weren’t as gung-ho about it. Bet you didn’t know that its creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, had to jump through hoops to get it off the ground!
Can you believe over 15 networks gave it the cold shoulder before Netflix swooped in? They grabbed it up less than a day after hearing the pitch. But wait, there’s more! Here are 10 other tidbits you probably didn’t know about this ’80s fright-fest…
10. The Minds Behind Stranger Things are Twins
Born and bred in North Carolina, the Duffer Brothers caught the movie-making bug early. Off to Los Angeles they went to study at Chapman University and step into the Hollywood scene.
After some initial successes, their big break came when M. Night Shyamalan appreciated their script for the TV series Wayward Pines. This collaboration, they believe, gave them the confidence to pitch Stranger Things and hit a home run.
And here’s a nugget for you: they’re twins! Matt even joked that they’ve lived life assuming they’re identical and finding out otherwise now would just “throw them for a loop.” How wild is that?
9. No Walk in the Park: Casting Hundreds of Kids
Brace yourself: The Duffer Brothers saw auditions from nearly 2,000 kids! Over 300 girls aimed for the role of Eleven alone.
Finn Wolfhard (Mike) even sent in his audition from his sickbed! And the lovable Dustin? Played by Gaten Matarazzo, he was the first one to receive a nod.
8. Composers: Discovered on the Web
One thing that sets Stranger Things apart is that killer soundtrack. The eerie electronic tunes make your heart race and pull you right into the story.
You might be surprised to learn that the guys behind those sounds, Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon, weren’t big names. The Duffer Brothers found their stuff online and liked it so much, they asked for 12 more songs to seal the deal.
And then? They got rave reviews. The brothers even talked Stein and Dixon into quitting their day jobs to work on the show full time. Now, their band, Survive, is turning heads and filling ears.
7. From New York to Indiana: A Change of Scenery
This’ll knock your socks off: Stranger Things was first called Montauk, and it was supposed to be filmed in Montauk, New York.
But filming in a New York winter? Not a chance! The seaside town might’ve inspired Jaws, but the creators decided to pack their bags and make up the town of Hawkins, Indiana, instead.
So they took the show on the road to Atlanta and changed the name to something we all know and love: Stranger Things. How cool is that?
6. Stranger Things: Inspired by Real Events (Sorta)
Ever wonder why Stranger Things almost took place in Montauk? It’s all about those hush-hush government secrets.
Rumor has it, the U.S. government was cooking up mind tricks right there in Montauk. A fella named Preston Nichols even said he remembered being part of weird experiments with mind control, aliens, and, get this, a faked Moon landing.
Now, some folks say it’s all hogwash, but with the government’s past of playing fast and loose with ethics, you’ve gotta wonder. Projects like MKUltra make it seem not so far-fetched.
The government did try to cook up superhuman soldiers like Eleven. Makes you grateful those projects didn’t pan out… or did they?
5. Sean Astin’s Character’s Close Call
Remember Mikey from The Goonies, Rudy from… Rudy, and Samwise from The Lord of the Rings? Yep, that’s Sean Astin, who made a splash in Stranger Things’ second season.
The brothers were a bit iffy at first, thinking Astin might be too big a star, especially since The Goonies inspired the kids in the show. They thought he’d have a small part, but Sean was such a hit, he stuck around longer than planned.
Originally, Bob was going to bite the dust in episode four, taken out in a dramatic scene. Instead, he lasted almost to the end, meeting a gruesome (but brave) end.
Writing Bob’s farewell was tough for the brothers, especially since Sean had become like family. Even though Sean didn’t want to go, the creators knew it had to happen.
And the way Bob met his maker? Inspired by the terrifying end of Quint in Jaws. How’s that for chilling?
4. Stephen King’s Mark on the Show
Stephen King’s influence on “Stranger Things”? It’s huge! Fans of the author might have noticed little details, like the title screen’s font, which looks just like the ones on King’s famous novels.
The brothers have openly said that King was a big inspiration for the series. There are nods to King’s work all over the place. Sean Astin’s character moving to Maine? That’s King’s hometown! Winona Ryder’s character worried about clowns? Hello, Pennywise!
Even King himself cheered on Millie Bobby Brown before she became Eleven.
There’s more! Eleven’s like a twin to Charlie McGee from “Firestarter.” They both have wild mental powers and play a dangerous game of hide-and-seek with some really bad people.
These little Easter eggs make a rich web that pays tribute to King’s legacy and the things we all love about his stories.
3. Millie Bobby Brown’s Haircut Made Her Dad Weep
Getting young actors to do something as drastic as shaving their heads isn’t a walk in the park. So how did the Duffer Brothers convince Millie Bobby Brown to go bald?
They showed her cool photos of Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road. When the big moment arrived, and Millie agreed, her dad couldn’t help but turn away, tears in his eyes, as her lovely curls fell to the floor.
But don’t feel too sad, because Millie says that chopping her hair off was the best decision she’s ever made!
2. A Creepy Prop Scared Will’s Real Mom
Here’s a wild story from behind the scenes. The Duffer brothers decided to show Noah Schnapp’s mom (you know, Noah’s the kid who plays Will) a super-realistic “dead body” of her own son!
Why? It’s tied to a season one storyline where the bad government guys make a fake Will to hide the truth.
So they took her to a dimly lit prop room and sprung the “corpse” on her. She was stunned, but once she got over the shock, she said she loved it. Still, don’t be surprised if she had a few spooky dreams after that eerie day on set.
1. Magic Moments at the Snow Ball
Get ready to feel all warm and fuzzy. In the last episode of season two, things seem kind of okay in Hawkins (well, as okay as they can be with all the monsters and such).
The kids hit the Snow Ball dance, and romance was in the air. Lucas and Max shared a sweet kiss, and Mike and Eleven did too.
Here’s a secret about that last one: Mike whispered, “I’m coming in,” before leaning in for the smooch. When the kisses were done, the whole room burst into cheers. But Millie Bobby Brown says it made the next takes trickier to film.
Now, here’s a tidbit for the fans: the Snow Ball kiss was the very first real-life kiss for Caleb McLaughlin and Sadie Sink, who play Lucas and Max.
And though there were some whispers that Sadie might’ve felt pushed into the kiss, she’s made it clear that nobody made her do anything she didn’t want to do.