Joe Keery revealed that his character in Stranger Things, Steve Harrington, was originally much different when he first got the role. Keery took cues from his own experiences to make key changes that made the character much more likable. If it weren’t for his tweeks, the first season would have been even darker than it actually was.
Keery opened up about how he felt about Steve during an interview with GQ. The role on the breakout Netflix hit series was the actor’s first big break, but Steve wasn’t his first choice of characters. “Originally, I auditioned for Jonathan. They were having everybody across the country audition for that.” Though he wasn’t deemed right for that part, Keery still impressed enough to be cast as Nancy Wheeler’s Season 1 beau.
Steve Harrington Was “Way Harsher,” Joe Keery Says
There was quite a bit of difference between how Steve appeared on screen and how the character first appeared in the script, Keery revealed. “Steve was definitely a little harsher. He was having this party… And he was a total, total [expletive]. He forced himself on Nancy. Way harsher.” Thankfully, the creators behind the show, the Duffer Brothers (Matt and Ross Duffer), listened to Keery when he came to them with ideas on how to change up the role.
After reading the script, Keery said he “had an instant idea what Steve would be like,” and The Duffer Brothers were “up for incorporating ideas we would have into the characters.” Keery based the new Steve “on people in my life, and characters that you see in those movies.” Just because he was flawed didn’t mean that he was automatically a villain. “In my mind, I think he has qualities that make him sort of a jerk. And aloof. And maybe not the most intelligent guy. But at the end of the day, I think he really does mean well.” The entire series could have been very different if Keery hadn’t spoken up.
An Environment Where Input Was Welcomed
Usually, especially for actors who are just starting out, there’s not much opportunity to speak with showrunners and advocate for character changes. The Duffer Brothers created a very inclusive environment where the actors felt they could come forward with their concerns and the result is a show that captivated millions.
The large audience that Stranger Things is something of a double-edged sword, however. Fellow cast members Finn Wolfhard and Millie Bobby Brown have reported that some adult fans of the show have behaved inappropriately toward them. Wolfhard even had to chastise a few for following him to his home when he was only 13-years-old. There has to be a better way to show appreciation to the show than harassing its young stars.