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Teen Star Says He Was Asked to Hide Changes of "Puberty and Growing Up"

Stranger Things star Noah Schnapp was cast at only 10 years old.

When you cast a show or movie starring a group of tweens, you're bound to run into some problems down the line. Just ask the producers of Stranger Things. When the show premiered in 2016, its youngest stars were all around 11 to 14 years old, which worked with the fact that they were supposed to be middle schoolers. But the cast soon grew older than their characters. When Season 4 premiered earlier this year, the actors were in their late teens—but were only supposed to be freshmen in high school.

In a new interview with Flaunt magazine, Noah Schnapp, who stars as Will Byers on the Netflix series, said that he was asked to hide signs that he had gotten older so that his character would still seem the right age. As it turns out, there was only so much he could do. Read on to find out what the actor was asked to change.

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Schnapp was cast on Stranger Things at age 10.

Finn Wolfhard and Noah Schnapp on "Stranger Things" season 1
Curtis Baker/Netflix

When the casting announcement for Stranger Things came out, Schnapp was only 10 years old. By the time the first season was released on Netflix, he was 11. Now 17, he's the youngest member of the main group of friends on the show—but he still looked considerably older than a high school freshman in the latest season.

He says he was asked to appear younger.

Noah Schnapp at the "Stranger Things" season 3 premiere in 2019
DFree / Shutterstock

In his new interview with Flaunt, Schnapp said that he was asked during a previous season to make changes to seem younger.

"It was the peak time of change, and puberty and growing up and just everything was changing with all of us, and the directors were just not loving it," he recalled. "And I remember one of the producers coming up to me and telling me, 'Noah, is there any way you could just speak in a higher tone and just slouch a little bit? Like, we need you to keep that Season 1 innocence that you had.' That was like, 'I don't know what to tell you. My voice is dropping. I don't sound young anymore.'"

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The show's creators have commented on the situation.

Matt and Ross Duffer at the "Stranger Things" season 3 premiere in 2019
DFree / Shutterstock

The Duffer Brothers—Matt and Ross Duffer—who created Strange Things, have talked about their cast growing up before their eyes. In 2017, when Season 2 premiered, Ross told The Wrap, "At first we were, you know, frustrated by—you just want to stop them from growing. But you look at something like Harry Potter, and it's exciting to grow up with these kids, so I think you use it to your advantage."

Matt added, "I tell them this: They need to not grow while we're shooting. It's about six months, so inevitably there's a little bit that happens. The voice changes, the voice gets deeper. Next year Caleb [McLaughlin]'s going to be driving on set—and I'm not even joking—which is, like, highly disturbing."

They learned to work with the changes.

Gaten Matarazzo, Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, and Millie Bobby Brown in "Stranger Things" season 3

In an Aug. 2022 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the Duffer Brothers shared their mindset for writing for the teen cast for Season 4. There were three years between the release of Season 3 and Season 4 due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The pause benefited the writing, because we were able for the first time to see exactly how much the kids had changed," Matt said. "Also, for the first time, we were able to complete all the scripts before shooting. [The aging] was not as dramatic as you would think, even with that six-month gap. The Season 2 to Season 3 jump was the one that jolted us the most."

Ross agreed that Season 2 to Season 3 surprised them the most when it came to the cast looking older. "For Season 4, we just assumed, 'They're going to be older than whatever we can imagine.' And so we wrote to that, and we aged them up even beyond [their real ages]," he said. "As shocking as it is to show up every year, it was less shocking than Season 3, because that was really when they went through big changes. It was just like, 'Who is this?'"

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Schnapp is happy to have his childhood on film.

Noah Schnapp at a ceremonial lighting of the Empire State Building in May 2022
lev radin / Shutterstock

While he has sometimes been asked to try to appear younger than he is, Schnapp is glad that Stranger Things has documented his tween and teen years.

"It's just crazy," he told Flaunt, "because I get to watch not only this character, but myself grow up onscreen. Now I'll be able to always have this archive of me as a 10-year-old actor, and me now, and I'll be able to show that to my kids, and it's just crazy that that'll live there forever."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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