“The show’s success at introducing actors who this audience isn’t familiar with is the most fun for us—the combination of iconic character actors and younger super talented kids who have been doing smaller things up until our show.” – Casting Director Carmen Cuba
Casting Director Carmen Cuba has won two Emmy Awards, including one for the first season of the Netflix hit series Stranger Things. Cuba has been nominated twice more for her work on the series, and for good reason — the series is renowned for introducing new faces as popular characters. Speaking with Awards Daily, Cuba detailed the casting process for the series’ fourth season, including new fan-favorite characters.
Cuba confesses that casting each season of Stranger Things is challenging, mostly because of the success of the original cast — as well as how many actors who are fans of the show pitching themselves for roles. She explains:
“The complications are the same each season—how do we find actors as talented as the ones already on the show? Because they’re consistently written in a way that gives actors a lot to play with but very little information as to what exactly they’re playing, that’s another challenge. Many times, actors are auditioning with material from movies that have already come out, and a very key complication as each season grows in popularity is how to resist putting in the famous actors who are all offering us their services! The show’s success at introducing actors who this audience isn’t familiar with is the most fun for us—the combination of iconic character actors and younger super talented kids who have been doing smaller things up until our show. Of course, from a logistical standpoint, my team has to contend with lots of confidentiality hurdles while trying to move at a very fast pace so that we don’t lose out on someone potentially perfect for us.”
For example, Cuba speaks about casting two of the most prominent characters that were introduced in the fourth season of Stranger Things, Argyle (portrayed by Eduardo Franco) and Eddie Munson (portrayed by Joseph Quinn):
Argyle we knew needed to feel like our introduction into the California vibe, but we didn’t want him to feel like a stereotype so it was tricky! I think we actually saw the most people for this role and sort of just kept digging until we found our own calibration of this idea. For me, it was also an opportunity to bring in someone whose culture was authentic to the region to help expand that idea of what California is and always has been (and what Indiana isn’t or certainly wasn’t in the 80s), so we were focused on that as well. Eduardo Franco fit all these ideas in his own special very talented package. This might sound crazy, but for me he made the character have its own vibe that approximated a cool weird combo of Dazed and Confused and El Mariachi energy.
Eddie Munson was a great character to find because we knew the material was going to be so fun for whoever played it. This was one of the few who we used actual scenes from the real scripts. He did the scene with Chrissy in the woods as well as the boat house scene where he described Chrissy dying, so it was a real treat to get to see how it would actually feel. The fact we couldn’t come up with scenes from other movies to audition with I think says a lot about how specific we needed Eddie to be for us to see what direction it could go. Joe Quinn nailed it effortlessly with the energy both of the time period and yet with an original spin to it. Having been in high school in the 80s, I realize now that I had a prototype in mind — my slightly older maybe high school dropout neighbor at the time named Hank who I didn’t know at all but made up all sorts of stories about in my head. He was my embodiment of Eddie. It was surprising to me that someone not of that time and not even American found that vibe so easily. Joe is truly incredible.