How the 'Stranger Things' cast's lives have changed since the series began

The first season of the series was broadcast in 2016

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After three years, Stranger Things season four finally returned to the small screen on May 27. During its premiere weekend, it also set new records for Netflix, including the highest number of hours viewed, at 286.7 million — surpassing Bridgerton season two, which reached 193 million.

And it has been announced that there will be a fifth and final season of the hit sci-fi show, which is likely to be released in 2023.

The first episode of the show was broadcast in 2016. We take a look at how the young cast have grown up and what other projects they've worked on in addition to Stranger Things.

Millie Bobby Brown

Brown was just 11 when she was cast for the show, playing the mysterious Eleven, in a role that she’s often called “life-changing”.

"The premiere was kind of crazy," she told W Magazine in 2017. "Everybody was like, 'The show is really good' and I was like, 'OK,' like I don't know what you're talking about, this is just a little show in Atlanta, Georgia. And then three days later my whole life changed."

Since Stranger Things began in 2016, Brown, 18, has gone on to appear in a number of films including 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, 2020’s Enola Holmes and 2021’s Godzilla vs Kong. She’s also appeared in music videos for The XX, Maroon 5 and Drake. She can next been seen in Enola Holmes 2, which is scheduled to be released later this year.

Finn Wolfhard

The Canadian actor plays Mike Wheeler, the leader of The Party, originally a close-knit group of friends including Will Byers, Lucas Sinclair and Dustin Henderson. It has since gone on to include Eleven and Max Mayfield. Wolfhard, 19, has described in the past how he almost gave up on acting before landing the gig and that no one knew just how big the show would go on to be.

“We just thought we were filming this secret thing that no one knew about,” he said in an interview with The Guardian in 2020. “Which we were. No one knew what we were doing. Netflix were kind of hands-off. We thought maybe it would become a cult classic, and we’ll come back to it in 30 years and be really proud of doing it. And then it just blew up. Overnight.”

Wolfhard has starred in How It Ends (2018), The Turning (2020) and Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021). He’s also gone behind the camera, making his directorial debut in August 2020, with the comedic short film, Night Shifts.

Noah Schnapp

Playing Will Byers, who goes missing in the first season, Schnapp, 17, has had a bigger role in the series as it has gone on. Like his castmates, he wasn’t initally sure whether there would be anything more than just one season for the show.

“When they were casting me, they told me that even though I’m not around a lot for season one, I’d be a major part of a second season — if they got to do it. So, I felt good knowing that I had something to look forward to that was really big. But, definitely throughout season one, it sucked because I never got to go to any of the press or anything,” Schnapp told The Hollywood Reporter in February 2020.

“At first, I was like, ‘I shouldn’t even worry about this. There’s not going to be a season two’ and then all of a sudden, everything happened so quickly. My life changed in a matter of days. I’ve never been more grateful for anything.”

Although Schnapp acted in small parts prior to Stranger Things, he has since launched a sustainability-focused snacking company called To Be Honest and has joined the cast of new mystery thriller The Tutor.

Gaten Matarazzo

Matarazzo plays Dustin Henderson on the show. Although he started his career on Broadway with parts in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Les Miserables, it’s been his role on Stranger Things that has been his big break.

“I love playing this part so much. It's the best thing I've ever gotten to do with my entire life. And to do it for so long, with such an amazing group of people is just, it’s just a blessing,” he told ETimes in May.

“It’s the greatest pleasure and I'm always excited because they always take such care with their characters, and every single season they want to give each and every one of them a reason to move forward and to be a part of the show.”

Between filming Stranger Things, Matarazzo has been the host of horror-themed hidden camera show, Prank Encounters and can be seen on Broadway this summer in Dear Evan Hansen.

Caleb McLaughlin

McLaughlin plays Lucas Sinclair, another member of The Party. Although he’s been acting since he was a child, with roles such as Young Simba on Broadway, his part in Stranger Things is also regarded as his breakthrough. Unlike his castmates, he says he always believed that the Netflix Original had the potential to be something special.

“I always knew [Stranger Things] was going to be great. I knew that it would move the needle and a lot of people would love it,” he told Teen Vogue in March.

Now 20, he's since been in the Netflix movies Concrete Cowboy and High Flying Bird. He’s also appeared in music videos for Sia and Tyler the Creator. He’ll next be seen in the film Shoot Stars set to be released in 2023.

Sadie Sink

Joining the cast in the second season, Sink plays Max Mayfield who moves to Hawkins, Indiana with her family including older stepbrother Billy. She eventually befriends The Party as well as Eleven becoming a member of their friend group.

“When the show was first announced, I was 14 and all the attention kind of scared me off,” she told Glamour in May. “Things around me started changing, but I never changed. I’d be flying to LA for the Golden Globes one day and then be right back at home with my mom telling me to take the trash out the next.”

Although Sink, 20, has been acting since 2011, she was recently cast as the female lead in Taylor Swift’s All Too Well music video. She also played Ziggy Berman in the Fear Street film trilogy. She can next been seen in coming films The Whale and Dear Zoe.

Natalia Dyer

Dyer’s first screen role was as Clarissa Granger in 2009’s Hannah Montana: The Movie but these days she is known for playing Nancy Wheeler, Mike’s older sister, on the hit show. After the first season of Stranger Things, she described to Teen Vogue in 2016 how her life had changed.

“I worry about the Internet sometimes and all of that attention. You never get used to it. It was very much an overnight kind of thing,” she said. “One day, you're just walking down the street and you're just like, you, and then the next day, after Stranger Things comes out, it was like, ‘Oh, you're Nancy.’ I don't know if you ever get used to that really, being recognised, being known by strangers, but it's cool.”

Since the show broadcast, Dyer, 27, can be seen in 2019's satrical horror film Velvet Buzzsaw and the comedy-drama Yes, God, Yes. She can next be seen in the forthcoming horror-thriller All Fun and Games with Asa Butterfield.

Joe Keery

Keery plays Steve Harrington, the bad-boy-turned-redeem-hero on the show. Although he originally auditioned for the role of Jonathan Byers, that didn't work out and he was instead offered a different part.

“I didn’t hear anything for three months,” Keery, 30, told in 2019. “And then I heard they wanted me to tape for this other character, Steve Harrington. I remember being like, ‘Oh this guy? This guy’s a total jerk."

Luckily, most fans will agree that this was for the best. Keery had small roles on Empire and Chicago Fire before being cast on Stranger Things. Since then, he has been in 2020's Spree as well as 2021's Free Guy. He also releases music under the stage name Djo.

Charlie Heaton

The British actor plays Jonathan Byers, Will's older brother and Nancy's boyfriend. Although he has acted in smaller parts is shows for ITV and the BBC, he is most known for his role on Stranger Things.

“I don’t want to say things happened easy. I wasn’t totally oblivious to what was going on. I had done acting at school, and it felt like something that came very naturally to me,” he told GQ in 2020.

“I had this turbulent, crazy year, and then the show came out in 2016 and it was like this overnight.”

In addition to acting, Heaton, 28, is also a musician. He also played Samuel Guthrie / Cannonball in Marvel's 2020 superhero horror film, The New Mutants.

Updated: June 04, 2022, 5:02 AM