The 14-year-old star of Netflix’s Stranger Things, of Stephen King’s It, talks Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, acting, stunts and Stranger Things 2.
Set on Halloween, Stranger Things 2 sees the gang back together one year on – including awol kickass Elle. Surprisingly, Finn says his character from It, motormouth Richie Tozier, was easier to play than "intense" Mike Wheeler. Like Stranger Things, It begins with a boy gone missing – lured away by a horrifying clown; It also has a group of friends coming together to battle evil; and it’s set in the 1980s. Richie (in the book) grows up to be a shock jock and stand-up comedian, which might be an indication of where Finn is going. Comedy is Finn’s jam: in addition to the Miami skit, he is writing a mockumentary with Vine star Josh Ovalle about an Instagram sensation out of his depth in Los Angeles. For Finn, home is Vancouver, Canada, though his favourite U.S. city is Seattle – coincidentally, the home of the late Kurt Donald Cobain.
DISORDER: You seem to have retro taste, where does that come from?
FINN WOLFHARD: Definitely my parents at first. They would show me stuff and I would go on my own. When my mum showed me The Beatles for the first time I was like, this is insane. Never heard anything like it. I also listen to a lot of newer music.
Were you aware of Stephen King’s books before starting It?
I had watched Carrie. I’d read Carrie. I was totally interested in it. I had seen the [1990 It] mini series way before, but I’d never read the book.
Richie in It is super chatty and annoying, very different from Stranger Things’ Mike Wheeler. Was it a tough transition?
They’re very different. It all came out very natural cos that’s how I was on set with the other kids, sorta energetic and all of us match each other’s energy. It was easier to play this role just because I felt like I was projecting more [of myself]. It is rated R, so anyone going in should be mature enough to handle [his foul mouth]. My fans are also smart enough to know that Richie’s a character and is neither Finn nor Mike Wheeler.
So Mike is a tough part for you?
I absolutely love my role in Stranger Things. I love the show in general. It’s harder for me to play Mike than Richie, just because he is such an intense guy, which I can play, but it’s harder for me to be intense than to be funny.
Do you enjoy the physical demands of acting?
Stunt stuff is fun. But if you do it too much it gets tedious. So when I had to jump off that cliff [in Stranger Things Season One] all that was fine. But I had to be on wires [upside down] for being brought back up. And we did that for hours and there was a lot of blood rushing to my head.
How about cycling with Eleven on the back?
People don’t realise how really difficult it is because my bike is so off weight-wise. We sorta learned that if it was downhill it was much easier, but if it was uphill we had to get a giant start. A crew member had to push us off camera.
What can you tell us about Stranger Things 2?
We pick up about a year later. All of our characters are dealing with the backlash of last season. Because no-one can really go back to the way they were. And so everyone’s sorta dealing with that and trying to move on and at the same time figuring out themselves and figuring out what exactly is wrong with Will. There’s a lot more emotional stuff in this season for me, and that was kinda difficult.
You dress up as Ghostbusters. What’s your favourite line from the movie?
“Yes it’s true. This man has no dick.” Bill Murray sticking it to the man.
Did you know it was going to be a hit?
We went into this just thinking it was a great script and we made it kinda like an indie movie, run-and-gun. We didn’t know there was going to be a second season until maybe the very end. And I think it definitely paid off.
What is your best memory from making the show?
The very first D&D [Dungeons & Dragons] scene was my favourite cos everyone just met and we were immediately all best friends, which was really really cool. It was the first time I’d come into contact with actors that were in the same boat as me and they’re all experiencing it at the same time so it’s great.
What advice did you benefit from while making Stranger Things?
I got advice from everybody. From the teenagers saying, not every set’s going to be the same. And the directors, [executive producer] Shaun Levy and The Duffers [Stranger Things’ writer-director twins, Matt and Ross] always taught me the biggest things. I would not be directing anything without them. I’ve only directed one thing [Spendtime Palace’s Sonora music video] and it wouldn’t be possible without them. They would let me come to set after I wrap and stay after hours and just watch them, which is really, really helpful.
What would you tell somebody who’s just starting out?
Honestly, remember where you came from. And if you’re already a bad person, then fine. But y’know if you’re a person who changes over time and becomes a diva you just gotta remember where you came from because – no-one’s going to want to work with you if you’re a diva, and you’re just going to get worse and worse. I’m definitely still weirded out by being recognised but that’s totally fine. And it’s also cool at the same time. Going back to school is for sure the best reality I could ask for.
What is your dream role?
If it was a biopic I’d love to play teenage Kurt Cobain. That’d be really cool. He should have been the voice for all of that generation and he was for a long time until he died. It sucks. He made some of the best music ever. And he was really smart and an interesting person. His childhood, it’s really messed up and sucks. But that’s where it came from. It would be really cool to explore that as a movie. He sort of shifted everyone’s thinking.
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Photography: Ryan Michael Kelly
Stylist: John Tan
Grooming: Matthew Tuozzoli using Oribe Hair Care
Photography Assistant: Cody Lidtke
Location: Hudson Studios NY