Ahead of the debut of Stranger Things season 3, Joe Keery took a break from battling Demogorgons to spend some time in his old stomping grounds.
The Newburyport native, along with executive producer Shawn Levy, shipped up to the Hub last week to celebrate the new season during Stranger Things Night at Fenway Park, as well as take part in a press tour stop at Cambridge's popular arcade bar A4cade. Keery will be back in town for a bit as he films the upcoming sci-fi comedy Free Guy, which also stars Ryan Reynolds and features Levy in the director's chair.
While Keery is a bonafide star these days, he hasn't lost touch with his Massachusetts roots or his love of the Red Sox (his favorite player growing up was Nomar Garciaparra), and he still has a taste for the region's iconic cuisine.
"Clam chowder, love it," Keery says. "I love seafood a lot. I grew up eating a bunch of seafood."
Although it's unlikely that fans will see Keery munch on lobster rolls as he takes on the latest menace from the Upside Down when Stranger Things season 3 premieres on July 4, viewers should expect some big changes for his character, Steve Harrington. The new season shows Steve taking on his first post-high school job, albeit as a humble ice cream scooper at the new Starcourt Mall in fictional Hawkins, Indiana. Keery can relate to Steve's foray into the working world, as he has a lot of experience with service industry gigs.
"I was a pizza delivery guy for a couple summers," Keery recalls of his past jobs. "I was a barback, a busboy, a host. I delivered papers."
"I feel like working in a restaurant is just a must have for a young person," he adds. "It just helps."
Hopefully the new uniform won't mess with Steve's hair too much, as some viewers have become obsessed with his luscious locks. Unfortunately, Keery doesn't have any secret tips for fans hoping to recreate his iconic hairdo for Halloween—other than enlisting a world-class stylist.
"Sarah Hindsgaul, that’s the tip. Sshe’s the woman who’s in charge of hair on the show," Keery jokes. "[Also] some lucky DNA. You can thank our parents really. I got no secret tips for you."
Aside from the new job, Stranger Things season 3 will once again show Steve teaming up with Gaten Matarazzo's Dustin. Their unlikely friendship was a fan-favorite highlight from season 2, and Keery is excited to see that relationship continue to evolve on screen.
"Their relationship is a partnership. It’s really an equal parts relationship," says Keery. "It's really evolved into a friendship. It kind of picks up right where it left off at the end of last season."
Levy adds that, while Steve and Dustin's friendship "is very much in season 3," fans should expect "a couple of other characters" to join their narrative dynamic, who also give "very memorable performances." In fact, the new season will put a spotlight on several new players, like the mayor of Hawkins played by The Princess Bride legend Cary Elwes, as well as newcomer Maya Hawke, who plays Steve's ice scream shop co-worker Robin. And possibly best of all, scene-stealer Priah Ferguson is back as Lucas' sister Erica.
"That was an example of someone just popping so immediately and loudly with our fans and in the culture that we’re like, 'Oh, this girl is too special, we have to make her a much more significant part of season 3,'" Levy says of Ferguson. "So Erica is back and in a much bigger role."
Stranger Thing has clearly become a global, pop culture phenomenon, which is slightly surprising considering that it isn't a comic book movie, a reboot of a famous franchise or an adaptation of a popular work. The show is very much a unique, original story, which gives Levy and Keery hope that the series' success will open more doors for creators.
"We knew it was good, but you can never assume what you make is going to be a hit," says Levy."It's very rare that we’re allowed to make something original, so launching a franchise from something that is new the way we have with Stranger Things, that is deeply gratifying."
"It gives you a little bit of hope," adds Keery. "You got to think that it means something and that people do want something that’s new, something original."