Noah Schnapp never liked scary films.
That was until he shot to fame in last year’s acclaimed science-fiction horror Stranger Things. His character Will Byers might be compared to Twin Peaks’ Laura Palmer if Laura came back from the dead with a hell of a story to tell. In Season Two, there will be new monsters and new friends, and Will’s time in the Upside Down means new motives, too. A fledging star, Noah’s IMDb page also highlights acting roles in the Angry Birds and Peanuts movies. But Noah is no Charlie Brown. In his short career, he’s shadowed Tom Hanks on a Spielberg set, jammed on stage with Panic! At The Disco, and his dream role is playing someone “deranged”.
DISORDER: You have worked with Tom Hanks on Bridge of Spies and with Winona Ryder on Stranger Things. Have you learned things from them?
NOAH SCHNAPP: Oh yeah, definitely! I met Tom Hanks a while ago. He taught me about the industry and the process of making movies – the ins and outs of working on a set and all these industry terms. While we were filming he would try something out on camera and Mr Spielberg would be in the back like, “Oh, that was perfect! That’s great! We’re going to use that.” And I was like, oh, that’s really cool that you can do that. And with Winona I learned that it’s okay to let go; that if it looks bad on camera and if it sucks it sucks, but at least you took the risk. No risk, no reward.
Are there a lot of differences between shooting for TV and shooting for film?
Filming a TV show takes way longer. When you’re filming a movie, it’s usually around two months; with a TV show, it’s definitely a lot longer. TV is far more fast-paced. They’re trying to get everything done because you have to do this amount in this period of time, and with filming [movies] they take more time to get every angle and every shot. I think the bonds with people you meet – when you’re filming [a movie] it’s kind of like, hey, we’re going to work together and then we’ll probably never see each other again, but on TV they kind of become your family.
You were in Panic! At The Disco’s music video for LA Devotee, how was that?
I’d never done one before; it was cool to learn how it works. I just memorised all the lyrics to the song and then lip-synced the whole thing while being, like, zapped in a chair. It was very different… really fun, definitely a learning experience! I got really invested in their songs and became a fan. They did this sold-out show at Madison Square Garden and they brought me [on stage] to sing with [frontman] Brendon Urie and OH MY GOD! Just looking and seeing all the people… I’d never experienced that. It was a pretty cool first concert. I’ll never forget it.
Who are you listening to right now?
I love The Chainsmokers, I love Ed Sheeran… I like all types! Well, no… I’m not a fan of rock; I just don’t understand it, and I’m not really into jazz, but everything else I love. And obviously Panic! At The Disco!
Do you have a favourite genre of film or TV to work in?
I like filming different things. I love when I see an actor that I know from another movie playing a totally different person. Like, if I were playing a serial killer or a deranged person, no one would expect that! It would be really cool.
Would you have watched Stranger Things if you weren’t in it?
Honestly, I don’t think so. I only recently got into the scary/horror movie thing, because Millie [who plays Eleven on Stranger Things] loves them. I used to hate them and anything that had to do with even a little bit of scariness I would stay away from, but I’ve kind of gotten used to them and I like them now. So two years ago I would have never watched it, but maybe now I would check it out.
Are you excited for where your character, Will, is going during Season Two?
I can’t say much because I don’t want to spoil it, but I am very excited. [Directors] the Duffers definitely gave me a lot of opportunities to try out cool things this year and I had a lot of challenging scenes. You’ll definitely learn in this season how the Upside Down affected Will, and how he’s coping with it and how the aftermath of that plays out. It was challenging but fun. I can’t wait for you guys to see it!
Which scene has been your favourite to shoot?
When Hopper and Joyce rescued me from the Upside Down! It was a lot of fun, but we shot in this tiny little basement of a library, which we didn’t need to do because we could have shot on set. They had to put goo literally everywhere, so it was wet and sticky wherever you stood. But besides that, it was really fun. [Laughs] There was a lot of stuff that went on.
How close are you to [on-screen brother] Charlie Heaton? Did you do any brother-bonding activities before filming?
We never did bonding activities. But I think it’s hard to not be close with everyone while filming, because you see each other every day. We’re all close and all like family.
Speaking of family, you have a twin sister. Are you very close?
Oh, yeah! A lot of people ask if we think alike, and I think we do. Sometimes we’ll be sitting in the same room and it’ll be totally quiet and the same exact words will blurt out of our mouths at the same time. I’m very close with her. She calls my dog these weird names, and we call each other those now.
You grew up in NYC, right? Did you like it there?
I lived there until I was three and then I moved to right outside the city. I don’t remember [living in the city] too much, but I did go to the city a lot. It was very different from where I live now. Here, I walk to school and there are trees everywhere but in the city there’s a lot of action and busy streets and the restaurants are great… I really like the city.
What would a book about your life be called?
Ooh, a book? I don’t think it’d be that interesting… I think I’d just call it “The Adventures of Noah Schnapp.” For school I had to read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and I guess it would kind of be like that but with me.
Do you have a favourite book?
I recently read The Martian, which they turned into a movie, and I really like that. I read it in one plane ride!
If someone handed you a plane ticket right now, where would you want it to go?
[Laughs] Oh my god. I’ve never thought about that! Hmm. Maybe somewhere in Europe or Tokyo or South Africa. I just went to Italy recently; we went to the Amalfi Coast for a few days. That was my first time in Europe, so that was fun.
Do you want to act for the rest of your life?
I don’t know! I’ve thought about it, because I’ve found something I love and have fun doing, and it’s counted as a job, and you can make a living off of it when you’re older. But maybe in ten years I’ll change my mind and not want to do it anymore. Maybe I’ll want to be a doctor or a scientist, I really love the idea of saving lives.
How do you want people to think of you after they meet you for the first time?
Definitely as a kind person, and maybe as a person who lives life to the fullest and never gives up and is an optimist – a person who spreads positive energy.
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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