Obviously, fans have a lot of expectations for this show. They don’t dictate the choices the Duffers make, but do they ever influence them? For example, when people really liked Lucas’ sister, did that lead to discussions about having more of her in the show?
Levy: I think that's a very fine line because if you listen too hard you lose your inner voice. And frankly, a big part of my job is to always protect the inner voice of Matt and Ross Duffer. So, you hear it. There's a lot of cultural noise and you hear it, but we try not to abide by it too badly.
However, Lucas and Erica Sinclair are the perfect example. There was no missing the way Erica resonated with audiences, even though she only had what, three or four lines last year? Suddenly she's a series regular and she is very much caught in the thick of the Season 3 storyline. So we definitely are aware of fan reactions, and we take into account how much we want to go down those roads. If we listen too hard, Barb would still be alive; she would have come back from the dead.
In the past, the Duffers have referenced Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, and even The Conversation and Prisoners for the first two seasons. What movies and shows inspired Season 3?
Levy: Well, I don't want to give too much away. There's everything from Invasion of the Bodysnatchers to Back to the Future to Spielberg, Spielberg, Spielberg; always Spielberg. I think there are shots, even in the last trailer, that any Spielberg fan will recognize as being in the language of Steven. Everything from Close Encounters to Jurassic Park. The use of camerawork with suspense and actor staging. Maybe the most magnificent example being in that basement scene in War of the Worlds.
Levy: So good. And even in our trailer, you can see moments that were inspired by that. Steven is a friend and a colleague of mine; he's an idol of the Duffers. So I would say, even though every year the touchstone movies shift, as far as the ones that are in our minds, the legacy of Spielberg's filmmaking is always coursing through the veins of Stranger Things.
That’s another fine line the show walks. The show’s sense of nostalgia is great, but that’s really just a small part of its charm.
Levy: Thank you for saying that, because I always think it's really reductive and really misses the point to attribute Stranger Things' success to the nostalgia factor. Of course that's a part of it, and of course we are a show that is made for and by movie nerds, right? Like, that's a fact. But the alchemy of Stranger Things, the magic of Stranger Things, is the warmth, humanity, and loyalty of these characters. It is the mixture of lightness and darkness. That, to me, is the special sauce. And that is wholly our own and that is the Duffer brothers. Not the Duffer brothers quoting other filmmakers. It is their own creation, and that is what's special about it.