Stranger Things works on its own as a sci-fi/horror series, but it maybe works just a little bit better if you happen to be a big fan of the same movies that inspired the show's creators, the Duffer Brothers. Season 2 of Stranger Things will continue the tradition of drawing on '80s influences and bringing in actors who achieved stardom during that decade, ensuring that older viewers will continue hearing the echoes from their childhood.
In season 1, the show's big human villain was played by Matthew Modine, an actor most will remember for playing Private Joker in Stanley Kubrick's 1987 war film Full Metal Jacket. Modine's Dr. Brenner was of course clearly inspired by Peter Coyote's mysterious Keys character from E.T. (he also bore a striking resemblance to director David Cronenberg, a very famous '80s figure in his own right). For season 2, the Duffer Brothers have called upon another actor known for a villainous portrayal in an '80s film, though it's not yet certain that this actor will be playing a bad guy on the show.
It was announced that Paul Reiser has been cast in Stranger Things Season 2, and as soon as folks heard this they immediately assumed he would be playing a character much like the role he played in Aliens, the two-faced corporate stooge Burke. But according to Reiser, he still doesn't know if his Stranger Things character is in fact good or bad (via EW):
They told me who I was playing and they told me what they had in mind. It was sort of nebulous — is he a good guy or a bad guy? To be honest, I’ve only read a few of the scripts so I still don’t know and I’m not sure they know. I think part of what they were tickled by was, to whatever extent people know me from Aliens, they’re automatically going, “Oh this guy is no good.” I don’t know where they’re going with it but it’s a fun thing to play.
Could the Duffer Brothers be playing a little bait-and-switch game here, casting an actor everyone thinks of as slimy and having him turn out to be a hero? It wouldn't be a shock to see them pull such a trick. Stranger Things did a good job subverting expectations in season 1, having some seemingly bad characters turn out to be okay (notably Steve, who rose above his jerky boyfriend nature to show a little heroism). So it's not guaranteed that Reiser will have his "it was a bad call Ripley" moment on Stranger Things.
Of course, Reiser could very well be playing coy about his character's nature in order to stay away from spoilers. As we know, Netflix is keen to avoid allowing any Stranger Things secrets to leak out early, even going so far as to switch up episode titles so people can't make any guesses about the plot. As big a deal as Stranger Things has become, fans can understand Netflix being extra careful about guarding the show's secrets, and the actors are all certainly on board with this policy as well.
Then again, Reiser's coyness could for all we know be a setup for the bait-and-switch mentioned earlier. It's possible that Reiser could actually be playing a good guy in Stranger Things, but really, what's the point of casting him if you're not going to let him play a slimeball? Reiser can play nice guys too but Burke remains his most memorable movie character for a reason. We'll get all the answers when Stranger Things Season 2 hits Netflix on (or around) Halloween of 2017.
Stranger Things season 2 premieres Oct. 31st on Netflix.