Vancouver-born actor Finn Wolfhard is quickly making quite a name for himself among horror fans.
The young star of Netflix’s much talked about Stranger Things – a 1980s set sci-fi adventure series inspired by the likes of The Goonies, Poltergeist, and Stand By Me – is winning praises for his portrayal of Mike Wheeler, the leader of a geeky group of kids whose friend has gone missing under very mysterious circumstances. The 13-year-old actor also plays Richie in the upcoming remake of It – currently shooting in Toronto – another horror property with strong ties to the 80s.
If you’ve visited the site lately, you’ll know that we love Stranger Things and love Wolfhard on it. We had a chance to sit down with the young actor earlier this week to talk Stranger Things, Stephen King, Mike and Eleven, his favourite 80s movies, and much more.
What did you do to prepare for the role? Did the Duffers give you guys an ’80s movie crash course?
Me and the Duffer Brothers had talked earlier about that and I’d already seen all of the movies they wanted us to see. Gaten, who plays Dustin, had too, but Caleb, who plays Lucas, had not, so we got to watch them all again! He watched Stand By Me and The Goonies for the first time, so it was cool to see his reactions.
Do you have a favourite out of those films?
I think probably The Goonies and E.T. overall… or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Those are all great movies!
What can you tell me about your character Mike Wheeler? He’s basically the leader of this small group of kids.
He’s sort of the leader. He just doesn’t give up on things. He doesn’t give up on his best friend Will. I think he’s really cool, but at the same time he keeps to himself and is really socially awkward.
The character was always a mix of so many things. He’s a mix of me for sure, as well as Sam from Freaks & Geeks and Mikey from The Goonies.
Had you played Dungeons & Dragons before taking on this role?
No, but my dad did when he was younger, which was cool! So he schooled me on a lot of things. He had a character named “Frederick of Hollywood”, he was a monk or something. He taught me about it, and the Duffer Brothers taught me a lot about it too. When we all meet up I think we’re going to play again.
You share many of your scenes with Millie Bobby Brown. She’s fantastic as Eleven! How would you describe her and Mike’s relationship?
I think it’s like summer love, I guess. It’s one of those things where it’s sort of timid and weird, but he really cares for her. He feels like he’s protecting her from these terrible people and this outside world. She doesn’t know what’s happening and Mike doesn’t know what’s happening, but it’s all really complicated. But yeah, it’s definitely like a young love sort of situation.
So tell me about Matt and Ross Duffer. What’s it like working with these two brothers?
They’re amazing, they’re like my big brothers. We always had this inside joke where they basically cast themselves as Mike. He’s basically an amalgam of both of them. But it was incredible, they were like big kids but they knew exactly what they wanted. They did Wayward Pines and they did a movie called Hidden, which I don’t think had a very big theatrical release, so I think they wanted to make a big comeback.
Stranger Things has garnered some pretty big fans since it debuted – Stephen King and Guillermo del Toro to name just a few. You were tweeting with those guys the other day! What does it mean for the show to have guys like that as fans?
Yeah! One of the Duffer Brothers, Matt, texted me and was like “Hey, so Guillermo del Toro and Stephen King are tweeting about the show!” So we kind of geeked out immediately.
I’m ecstatic about @RealGDT liking our show! Matt and Ross were inspired by the best.
— Finn Wolfhard (@FinnSkata) July 18, 2016
I love Pan’s Labyrinth and I love The Shining – I don’t think Stephen King likes the movie of The Shining but I love it. I’ve got to read more Stephen King novels, but I’m actually doing IT right now in Toronto!
So what are your feelings about clowns?
They just really creep me out. [laughs]
It’s one of those things that resonates with so many people. A lot of people grew up with the original movie and it was terrifying for them. I talked with the Duffer Brothers about it and when they were kids they were terrified of it. It was this B movie miniseries, pretty groundbreaking for its time, but if you watch it now it’s just so campy. So the new one is trying to make it better. It’s super dark and really serious. I think it’s the perfect homage to the book.
The name of our site is DorkShelf.com, so we always like to ask people about their own personal Dork Shelf. Is there something you collect or a special something – an object or a gift – that you have that you like to show to people when they come over to your house?
Oh awesome! I have a Gremlins poster in my room, as well as a Goonies poster. But on my desk I have a Howard the Duck Pop figure, it’s a bobblehead. I also have this little Supernatural Impala – I was in it but I don’t watch it – and this weird gold Homer Simpson. It’s awesome.
Stranger Things is now available to stream on Netflix