Stranger Things has become a cultural sensation and arguably Netflix’s biggest current success, but its young cast members aren’t exactly paid like marquee television stars yet.
Stranger Things became a surprise hit for Netflix in 2016, its blend of ’80s nostalgia and supernatural thrills creating an immediate audience pleaser. While it featured some veteran adult actors like Wynona Ryder and Matthew Modine, the show’s success, in many ways, came down to its unusually talented cast of adolescents; most notably Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven, a young girl with amazing abilities who spent her entire life in captivity before the events of the series. Season 2 came back stronger than the first, relying even more heavily on the show’s young ensemble, with Brown in particular cementing her place as a legitimately great young talent.
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Nevertheless, those young actors haven’t exactly been paid like the stars that they’ve become. According to a report from THR, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin were each paid $30,000 per episode for the first two seasons of Stranger Things, plus modest bonuses after the show became a hit. Considering the relatively low expectations for the series at the outset and the fact that all the child actors were relative unknowns, this is not a huge surprise.
Don’t feel too bad for the Hawkins kids. The cast are all signed on for six seasons, but they will enter into renegotiations before Stranger Things season 3 begins production sometime next year, which will result in decidedly heftier pay days. The only real question is whether or not Brown – who has become a much bigger star than the rest of the young cast – will negotiate separately, and presumably at a much higher pay rate, than the others.
Stranger Things is currently Netflix’s most important series, and likely the one that the service will start pinning their awards season hopes to, now that House of Cards is ending and buzz around Orange is the New Black has died down. If the show should start winning Emmys, it’s easy to see how that could impact the cast’s negotiations as well.
Netflix also reportedly wanted to nip a potential problem with its young cast in the bud by shooting seasons 3 and 4 back to back, in an effort to avoid any awkward growth spurts. However, for now that idea has been shot down by the series’ producers. It’s unclear exactly when the third season of the show will debut, but it seems a certainty that the young cast will be paid at a much more appropriate level when that happens.
Stranger Things 2 is available now on Netflix.