This story about Noah Schnapp first appeared in the Comedy/Drama/Actors issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
“Cute” probably the last word you’d use to describe a preteen kid possessed by a supernatural creature called the Shadow Monster, but that’s exactly how Noah Schnapp describes his “Stranger Things” character, Will Byers.
And despite being stuck in series creators Matt and Ross Duffer’s deadly Upside Down world for most of Season 1 and possessed by a monster for most of Season 2, Will Byers, with his bowl cut and big brown eyes, is cute. And the fact that we can feel so much for Will is a testament to 13-year-old Schnapp’s acting.
“I was kind of playing two different people in the same body, and over the season, as it progressed, I had to show that Will was disappearing and it was becoming more apparent that the monster was there,” he said of his character’s Season 2 arc.
At one point in the fourth episode of the season, the Shadow Monster truly takes hold of Will. No longer are those big brown eyes searching for help from his mother, Joyce (Winona Ryder), who draws Will a bath to help him calm down.
“He likes it cold,” Will tells Joyce — he being the Shadow Monster — and Schnapp delivers the line with a harshness we haven’t seen yet from the quiet character.
“The ‘He likes it cold’ line was definitely — like the Duffers told me, that was the part where you have to show Will is gone, he isn’t there any more,” Schnapp said.
Schnapp said that watching Ryder work was an acting lesson in itself. “I learned more by watching her than her giving me advice,” he said.
But even though Schnapp doesn’t see himself in Will, some of that original cuteness remains.
Of Ryder, Schnapp added: “She’s a great hugger.”
Watch video of the interview above.
Read more of the Comedy/Drama/Actors issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.