Stranger Things has a new tradition – executive producer Shawn Levy, best known for creating movies such as Free Guy and The Adam Project, will direct each season’s third and fourth episode.
It all began with a necessity. The Duffer Brothers, Matt and Ross, were scheduled to helm every episode of season 1; however, as they started making them up, it became clear that this was going too far for them – which led Levy into the picture.
“I was the lucky son of a b—- who went and directed the Christmas lights episode and so many moments in season 1 that have become signature sequences for the show,” he reveals in an interview with EW.
“I just thought it was luck, but then when the series became so successful, the Duffers and I realized we shared just enough superstition to not f— with fate.”
The tradition remains intact with season 4, with the first seven episodes now available on Netflix. Similar to previous seasons, the third and fourth episodes are critical moments in the show.
The third episode often emphasizes plot and character, while the fourth one is when perils get cleared up, elaborates Levy.
Robert Englund, best known for his role in the Nightmare on Elm Street films as dream-walking serial killer Freddy Krueger, stars on Stranger Things as Victor Creel.
“He brought a real enthusiasm to his role, and honestly, it was just an honor to watch him work,” Dyer says, talking about Englund. “The role that he plays is just really interesting… He was so lovely and kind and sweet and really gave such a great performance.”
When the teens question Creel about Vecna, they draw inspiration from many sources. Of course, one contributing factor is The Silence of Lambs, but there’s also a subtle reference to A Nightmare on Elm Street in this scene.
“There’s a closeup of [Creel] scratching his fingernails on the desk in his cell,” he states. “It’s implied that he’s done it for so long that linoleum desktop is worn away by the scrape of his fingertip.”
That, obviously, is an illusion of Englund’s weapons as Freddy Krueger: the sharp metal blades linked to each of his fingers.
The appearance of Englund makes it evident that Elm Street is a major inspiration for Stranger Things season 4. The Duffers had mentioned the movie at the preview of the new season.
“The design and evil capabilities of Vecna are clearly descendants of Freddy Krueger,” Levy says of the new season’s villain, who strikes by projecting his mind from the Upside Down into the world of Hawkins by trapping his victims in dreamlike states.
“When the Duffers direct, there’s no need for me to go to set. And when I direct, there’s not a need for the brothers to come to set. We have such implicit trust in each other’s filmmaking,” Levy claims.
“But the day I shot with Robert was one of the very few times that the Duffers made a point of coming to set just to hang out and nerd out with Robert Englund. I will soon be unleashing my treasure trove of behind-the-scenes pictures from the season 4 shoot, and one of my favorites is of Matt and Ross Duffer talking to Robert Englund while wearing Freddie Krueger T-shirts. That’s what delightful geeks the Duffer brothers truly are.”
Stranger Things season 4 Volume I is now available on Netflix, while Volume II is expected to be out July 1.