Why today’s child-actors are a force to be reckoned with

I am obsessed with Stranger Things 2 and the young talent it has opened our eyes to. Are child actors getting better?

Like many, I finished Stranger Things 2 AND the behind-the-scenes ‘Beyond Stranger Things’ quicker than I should have. I kept saying that I was going to take it slow and savour every last minute (like a good dessert perhaps), but the plot-line, visuals, and most importantly the actors, had me hooked from the start. I wanted to devour the whole thing in one bite.

I then proceeded to spend hours trawling through Youtube videos and social media channels, re-watching and borderline stalking the cast of Stranger Things in their antics across the globe.

I developed a weird fascination/admiration for the bunch of early-teen kids and kept having to remind myself that they are only aged 16 and below. They were all born in the 2000’s. 13-year-old Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) had her first kiss on screen.

Despite their age, their talents amaze me. In fact, it may be because of their age that they amaze me even more so.Β For Stranger Things is not a kids programme and it deals with some very real, adult themes. Yet they consume it all, each one of them, and play their parts perfectly.

Watching Beyond Stranger Things gave light to how much their off-screen personalities influenced each character too, according to the Duffer brother’s, the writers of the show. On multiple occasions they revealed that the kids had added extra gems into the scenes that actually made it so unique, or their bold personalities inspired the writers to change their Stranger Things character to be something more.

The children are lucky they that had writers and directors who were supportive of their creative experiments, for often we hear of child-actors who are/were miserable and stressed because of high-demands on set. They are also lucky that we are slowly moving towards an entertainment industry which is recognising just how talented and versatile kids can be. Look back to shows like Grease and High School Musical – whilst the films are legendary and relatively respected, their actors weren’t for one second believable as genuine teens.

There used to be a protection of children, where we almost felt we couldn’t have them star in movies which they themselves weren’t allowed to watch. However, we are now waking up and realising that although this show/film may not be aimed at children, it does not mean that children can’t be the starring, sometimes only, role. Just take Stephen King’s IT – again featuring Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard (Mike) – where the unique, cursing, aggressive, hilarious kids make the movie and give it an authentic feel even though, like Stranger Things, it’s plotline is terrifying.

What’s more, the kids are serious actors and passionate about their careers. They aren’t just funny, likeable kids who’ve been forced onto screen. When you hear the Stranger Things children talk about their character, they have a genuine understanding and connection to its personality. The character is another part of them, and they talk about it with the same nuance an adult actor would describe a role they are taking on.

So hopefully the days of Disney are behind us, where kids are forced into wholesome roles with little depth and integrity and parts that – in years to come – they will actually be embarrassed of confessing to playing. These children have talent, raw emotion, uniqueness, and drive. Let Stranger Things 2 be a lesson to us all – the kids are not messing about.


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