Duffer Brothers Score DGA Nomination For ‘Stranger Things’

The Directors Guild of America nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in TV, Commercials and Documentary Films for its 69th annual DGA Awards have been unveiled. The list includes Matt and Ross Duffer A.K.A. The Duffer Brothers for the extraordinary work on the Netflix smash hit Stranger Things. The Duffer Brothers resurrected the visual storytelling styles of cinema from the 70’s and 80’s with their homage to the magical films from Steven Spielberg and novels by Stephen King.

The DGA nominees for Dramatic Series include:

Stranger Things, “Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers” (Netflix)

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, “From the Ashes of Tragedy” (FX)

Westworld, “The Original” (HBO)

Game of Thrones, “The Battle of the Bastards” (HBO)

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, “The Race Card” (FX)

While I would love to see the Duffers win and I think they deserve all the awards for their work, I think Miguel Sapochnik will just barely edge them out as “The Battle of the Bastards” featured the greatest medieval battle sequence in the history of film and television.






‘Stranger Things’ Was Originally R-Rated

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Part of what made the Netflix original series Stranger Things such a smash hit when it debuted last summer was it’s appeal to audiences of all ages. It spoke to older generations who came up during the 70’s and 80’s, people who grew up during the 90’s raised on 80’s cinema, and even the youngest of today’s millennials. But when the series was originally conceived as what was then called “Montauk”, The Duffer Brothers had plans to make the show much less kid-friendly telling Vulture:


“The Eleven character, the kind of powers she has and to have a young protagonist that’s violent — it’s not E.T. It’s not a happy situation. She’s killing people, and brutally murdering them. The original pilot was much more violent. It was originally like an R-rated thing.”


“Winona’s character was like, ‘Eff this, eff that!’ It felt a little bit unnecessary. I don’t feel like we sacrificed anything by toning it down a little bit.”

The original pilot also featured the death of Barb but as we saw, the creators made the choice to push that back a bit and flesh her character out a little more before buying the farm. It’s a good thing they did because if they hadn’t, Barb (Shannon Purser) may have not become the beloved character she is today.

The final episode also included a longer, grosser version of when Chief Hopper (David Harbour) pulled the tentacle out of Will’s mouth but Netflix had the Duffers cut it shorter. The decision to scale back the violence and profanity was smart, however. I would have liked to see Winona Ryder drop a few f-bombs. It’s a nitpick, but one of my only complaints in the series (which I absolutely love) was when Joyce said “Screw you” to Dr. Brenner in the opening scene of the final episode. It didn’t feel genuine and interrupts me from suspending my disbelief in that moment, reminding me I’m watching a television show in the middle of having a magical experience like watching E.T. or Jurassic Park for the first time again. Here is this sick, twisted man who performs experiments on children asking her for help after her son has been taken by an interdimensional monster thanks to his research. Joyce should have lunged across the table and bit out his jugular.



‘Stranger Things’ Cast and Directors Tease Season Two

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The cast and the creative team behind the Netflix smash hit Stranger Things were in attendance at the BAFTA Tea Party as well as the Golden Globes this weekend. While everyone was careful not to reveal anything about the upcoming sequel season which will drop on Netflix later this year, we did get a few interesting tidbits regarding the follow-up.

Executive Producer and Director Shawn Levy reiterated what we’ve already heard while promising Stranger Things 2 will continue to deliver the same magical Spielberg-like storytelling established in the first season telling Vanity Fair:

“Season 2 is bigger and potentially darker in its stakes. The threat, which in Season 1 was to Will Byers, has grown. That’s all I’m going to say! But, I will say Season 2 has a bigger cast and is definitely loyal to the kind of magical storytelling that we established in the first season. It’s character-based and still about our core group of characters.”

Finn Wolfhard, the brilliant 14-year old actor behind Mike Wheeler, talked about the advantage the actors now have knowing who their characters are and how growing up a little bit since the first season is going to help them evolve in season two:

“Now that we’ve done a season, we know exactly about our characters. We are very conscious of them and can take them to the next level. I think we’ve grown up a little bit, and our characters have too. They have been through a lot and have used those experiences to help them grow and to be stronger in Season 2.”

Possibly the most interesting bit of information came from The Duffer Brothers themselves. While speaking to The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet at the Golden Globes, Matt Duffer revealed that one of the clues dropped in the announcement trailer for season two has changed:

“This is very cryptic but one of the clues in the teaser has changed because casting.”

My best guess is that the final episode of season two titled “The Lost Brother” is now “The Lost Sister” with the casting of Danish actress Linnea Berthelsen, who plays Roman: an emotionally damaged, magnetic young woman who suffered a great loss as a child. Although she does not live in Hawkins, she is mysteriously connected to the supernatural events at the lab. I’m probably wrong but my theory is that Roman was originally conceived of as a male character. Matt Duffer said the change came due to casting and other than “Mad Max”, “The Boy Who Came Back to Life”, and “The Pollywog”, there aren’t any other titles besides “The Lost Brother” that refer to a character. “The Pollywog” remains a mystery but it’s safe to say nothing has changed regarding the first two episode titles.

Stranger Things 2 picks up a year later in the fall of 1984 and will explore the consequences of Will Byers’ week spent in the upside down as well as the interdimensional portal which is still open at the Department of Energy. The characters are said to be struggling with the desire to return to a sense of normalcy and maybe the impossibility of it.

The series has added Sean Astin (The Goonies, Lord of the Rings), Paul Reiser (Aliens, Mad About You)Linnea Berthelsen, Dacre Montgomery (Power Rangers), broadway star Sadie Sink, and Brett Gelman (Jobs). You can check out descriptions of their characters here. The new characters are said to be compelling but first and foremost in service to the core group of characters introduced in season one.

Stranger Things 2 stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb Mclaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, and Noah Schnapp.

Stranger Things 2 hits Netflix sometime in 2017.


Watch The ‘Stranger Things’ Live Stream Q&A

It’s happening! The creators of Stranger Things, The Duffer Brothers and Executive Producer Shawn Levy as well as the cast including Winona Ryder, David HarbourFinn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McClaughlin, and Noah Schnapp  are now live on Instagram and Facebook answering questions as part of a Q&A from today’s SAG screening.

‘Stranger Things’ Q&A Live Stream Later Today (UPDATED)

Since the Netflix smash hit Stranger Things became a pop culture phenomenon, the creators of the series, The Duffer Brothers, have done their best to stay out of the spotlight and focus on the second season of the series set to debut later this year. Until now the Duffers have only done a few interviews including one with CBS, another at the White House, and a Samsung live event as well. Fans who are eager to hear more from the creators are in luck as later this afternoon, The Duffer Brothers along with the cast will be answering questions as part of a Q&A from today’s SAG screening.

I’ll have a link to the live stream up later today.

UPDATE: As promised, here is the link to watch the live stream which is currently happening on Facebook and Instagram.

Millie Bobby Brown Picks up SAG Nomination For ‘Stranger Things’

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12-year old superstar, Millie Bobby Brown has earned her first SAG nomination for outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series for this past summer’s smash hit Stranger Things. Brown stole audience’s heart with her extraordinary performance when she channeled E.T. as Eleven, an abused telekinetic young girl who escaped from captivity to discover friendship, childhood, and love. Brown packs a powerful and emotional punch into every word she speaks. She is able to express more emotion through her eyes than even most adult actors are capable of.

Winona Ryder also scored a SAG nomination for best female actor in a drama series for Stranger Things with her harrowing performance as Joyce Byers, a mother whose child has gone missing and will stop at nothing to prove the supernatural force that took him exists.

The child led series has also been nominated for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series.

You can read the full list of nominations here.







First Look at Brett Gelman in ‘Stranger Things 2’; Plus Chief Hopper and More Photos of the Kids

More Stranger Things 2 set photos have landed on JustJared. The photos give us our first look at Brett Gelman who plays Murray Bauman, a disgraced journalist-turned-conspiracy theorist who is investigating a cold case in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. Bauman might just be the character the show needs to blow the lid off of the top-secret experiment gone wrong at the Hawkins national lab.

There are also more photos of the kids as well as some of everybody’s favorite cigarette smoking, beer drinking, pill popping, kid hating police chief, Jim Hopper (David Harbour). Production is currently underway on the second episode of season two in Atlanta.

Stranger Things 2 hits Netflix sometime in 2017.











The Boys Are Back On Their Bikes in New ‘Stranger Things 2’ Set Photos

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Production is currently underway on the sequel to this Summers smash hit series Stranger Things in Atlanta, GA. The second season has been teased as a bigger, darker, yet familiar continuation of the horror mystery sci-fi adventure that will inject action into the series with Aliens and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom cited as major influences. Stranger Things 2 continues the adventure a year later in the fall of 1984 as the Byers family and Will’s friends struggle to reclaim a sense of normalcy after the events of season one. Season two will explore the consequences of Will’s time in the upside down while dealing with the portal which remains open at the Department of Energy.

Thanks to the DailyMail, a few new set photos have hit the web revealing the kids back on their bikes on the streets of the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. Another photo also reveals Lucas has his trusty binoculars from Vietnam on hand.

Stranger Things 2 hits Netflix sometime in 2017.






David Harbour Talks Chief Hopper; Teases Expansive ‘Stranger Things 2’ and Further Seasons To Come

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-11-22-36-amLong gone are the days of leading male actors who were a bit rough around the edges. Today’s landscape requires a perfect face, complemented by great hair and a chiseled body. The problem for most ordinary men when it comes to entertainment is that we can sit back and admire the leading male characters of film and television but they have little chance of resonating with us. It prevents us from having a truly transformative experience because ordinary men can’t save the world in entertainment today, only superheroes can.

Maybe that’s why Chief Jim Hopper, played by David Harbour, became an overnight icon when the pop culture phenomenon of Stranger Things took the world by storm. Harbour reminded us that we all possess the strength to overcome the greatest challenges in life no matter how beaten down or destroyed the world has left us.

In Stranger Things, Chief Jim Hopper is a police Chief who split from his wife after his daughter lost a battle against cancer. When the series begins, the character is struggling with depression, drugs, and alcohol. He’s angry at the world and at children. But underneath that anger is a caring former self who is desperate to return to the surface.

Like Hopper, a lot of us men feel like we are cursed. Like everything we touch turns to shit and we’re better off just keeping ourselves at a distance from others so we don’t screw up their life too. Whether or not you can relate to that, we can all certainly relate to wanting to find meaning in our lives. So when Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) disappears, it presents Hopper with an opportunity to lift his curse by returning Will to his mother (Winona Ryder) and find new meaning in his life that could help him move forward and possibly forgive himself for the death of his daughter.


Harbour recently spoke with Gold Derby Editor Ralph Galvan about his role as Chief Hopper and dished about the struggle he had separating himself from the character:

“I think as an artist it’s good to bleed a little bit. Like if you want it to be good it’s got to hurt. I think that authenticity resonates. And I think when it doesn’t feel authentic in that way I think we somewhat feel it too. When it’s just kind of a scene. But when we see a character or a human being really go through a struggle, it’s funny like, the camera is always interested in what we’re doing but I feel like even on their skin, I feel like you can read people so well on film. And there’s something about when you actually go through something where you just kind of resonate. Like your whole instrument just kind of resonates this thing. So you know, I wish I had better technique in terms of turning it on and off but I just kind of lived it. I just kind of acted out a bit. I would dream about him. He just kind of infected my subconcious. Like, it’s totally worth it. Because it’s such an honor for me to be able to act and to be able to create something beautiful that resonates with people where I’m willing to totally give up five months of my life a year so you as an audience member can have an experience with a character that is rich and unique and I feel like it’s my honor to be able to do that for people. 

Harbour is currently back in the role of Chief Hopper as production on Stranger Things 2 has just begun. Harbour wouldn’t spoil anything regarding the plot of the new season, and neither would we here at AW, but Harbour did offer some tantalizing insight into the scope and scale of the new season:

“Before we got the first scripts I was nervous about how we are gonna do this. But then I read literally the first five minutes of season two is such an opener of the world it just blew me away. I literally was reading the script and went YES!!! as soon as it ended. So I think we’re gonna do something very expansive. And now that we know we have a show that people like, I think we might have more seasons to come so we can kind of arc a larger story and we start to establish things this season that will pay off even further down the road. And that’s really kind of liberating. So all the pressure that you feel, you also feel like wow we also have a bigger canvas now to play with and we can add all these new colors and all these new shades and so yes, there is pressure but there also is excitement.”

Stranger Things 2 picks up a year later in the fall of 1984 and will explore the consequences of Will Byers’ week spent in the upside down as well as the interdimensional portal which is still open at the Department of Energy. The sequel is said to be bigger and darker yet familiar as the characters struggle with the desire to return to a sense of normalcy and maybe the impossibility of it.

Stranger Things 2 stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb Mclaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, and Noah Schnapp.

Stranger Things 2 will also introduce several new characters. The series has added Sean Astin (The Goonies, Lord of the Rings), Paul Reiser (Aliens, Mad About You), danish actress Linnea Berthelsen, Dacre Montgomery (Power Rangers) broadway star Sadie Sink, and Brett Gelman (Jobs). You can check out descriptions of their characters here. The new characters are said to be compelling but first and foremost in service to the core group of characters introduced in season one.

Stranger Things 2 hits Netflix sometime in 2017.




‘Stranger Things’ Official Merchandise is Finally Available


Finally, the day has come when we can purchase official merchandise for the Netflix smash hit Stranger Things. The streaming giant missed a major opportunity last summer when the series premiered and became an overnight pop culture phenomenon. But Netflix will be ready to capitalize on Season two as they have now built official merchandise into their infrastructure with distribution deals already in place.

First, everyone’s dreams came true when Funko announced pops would be available in early 2017 for nearly every character in the series. Thanks to Nerdist, we now know official Stranger Things merchandise is available just in time for the holiday season. The official merch includes everything from t-shirts to necklaces to bracelets, and even Dustin’s hat as well as Eleven’s jacket available for purchase at Box Lunch and Hot Topic.