“I would love to give Gold Derby something exclusive,” executive producer Shawn Levy teases about the plot Season 2 of “Stranger Things,” which is set to return to Netflix on October 31. In his recent chat (watch the exclusive video above), he adds, “Will Byers is very much at the center of several intersecting challenges, threats in season two and I think overall the forces of evil that are inherent in season two make that Demogorgon look quaint in retrospect.”
Levy admits that his production company 21 Labs was not the first to receive the initial script for “Stranger Things” from co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer (credited as “The Duffer Brothers”), noting, “The conventional wisdom for years has been something with kids really needs to be for kids. No one wants something with kids that isn’t for kids. And so it was not an obvious marketplace kind of decision. I just loved this script, I really dug the brothers and we tried and set out to make something cool.” He adds, “This was not built as a ‘fancy’ show… so the fact that it’s been embraced with the kind of pedigree that it has — that’s the biggest surprise.”
Having recently scored his first Oscar nomination as a producer of Best Picture nominee “Arrival” and with a multitude of films in development at 21 Labs, Levy admits that he took on “Stranger Things” as a side project, but now works on it every day. He explains, “ ‘Stranger Things’ is really an abnormally tiny creative team in that it’s literally the Duffer brothers and it’s me as the executive producer and Dan Cohen who works for me who found this script initially. That’s the group… every creative decision, it’s Matt and Ross and I talking about it and so, because it’s a small team, it’s been a lot of work.” Levy sums up his role, “I’m here to bring and protect the Duffer brothers’ vision as it goes into the world and they look to me for counsel, for help, for advice, for feedback, for notes, so whatever it is on a given day, that’s what I’m here to do.”
All episodes of the first season were directed either by Levy or the Duffer brothers, which Levy was adamant about happening at Netflix. He explains, “In the first season when you’re trying to be really rigorous about the esthetics and the feel of the show, I think it was to our benefit, the circle of directors was no greater than the circle of producers.”
For Best Drama Directing consideration at the Emmys this year, Levy has submitted the episode titled “Holly, Jolly” because “It’s the Christmas lights episode, it’s the Ouija wall episode, it’s the first time the Demogorgon starts reaching through the wall — actually breaks through the wall and it ends with the discovery of Will Byers’s body in that quarry, that David Bowie song is covered by Peter Gabriel; it ended up being a real pivot point of an episode.”
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