From getting stuck in the Upside Down to being possessed by the Mind Flayer, Will Byers has been through it on Stranger Things. But in season 4 of the Netflix hit, his self-discovery became the focal point when his feelings for best friend Mike Wheeler became more apparent.
“I think it’s beautifully written,” Noah Schnapp exclusively told Us Weekly of his character’s personal journey while promoting his TBH company. “They’ve had this vision for a long time, which you can tell even from season 1 how they wrote it with his character and how he was bullied and being called a fairy and all the way up from season 1 up until now. They’ve had this story line kind of in the works and I think their vision has been working really well.”
It’s revealed in season 4 — after Will and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) move to California and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and the rest of their pals remain in Hawkins, Indiana — that Will and Mike have grown apart. In one pinnacle scene, an emotional Will shows Mike a painting he drew of him as a Knight with a shield featuring a coat of arms with a heart design, symbolizing Mike being the heart of their friend group. However, he lies and claims Eleven asked him to do it.
Schnapp, 18, later confirmed to Variety that Will is gay. “I mean, it’s pretty clear this season that Will has feelings for Mike. I think for season 4, it was just me playing this character who loves his best friend but struggles with knowing if he’ll be accepted or not, and feeling like a mistake and like he doesn’t belong. Will has always felt like that,” he said in July 2022.
He continued: “It was always kind of there, but you never really knew, is it just him growing up slower than his friends? Now that he’s gotten older, they made it a very real, obvious thing. Now it’s 100 percent clear that he is gay, and he does love Mike. But before, it was a slow arc.” (In January, Schnapp came out as gay in a TikTok video, and wrote: “I guess I’m more similar to will than I thought.”)
The University of Pennsylvania student is looking forward to what happens next in the sci-fi mystery, which will end with season 5.
“I think the Mike and Will story line is definitely one that fans have a love-hate relationship with and kind of wish for a happy ending, but who knows what will happen there,” Schnapp told Us. “And I just think in season 5, we’re all hoping that Will kind of fully embraces who he is and that we get to see that. And I think that’s the most important, at least for me.”
Creators Matt and Ross Duffer have already tipped off Schnapp that Will’s arc will once again be a “center point” when the show returns.
“They won’t tell me specifics, but they were like, ‘You just wait. You will be very happy and excited. So sit tight,’” he explained to Us. “I think the story opened and started with Will, and I think ending it with him and circling back on that is a nice way for them to wrap it up.”
For Schnapp, he’s going to miss the family that he’s built with the cast and crew the most once they officially say goodbye to Hawkins. Reflecting on Will’s journey — “I kind of grew up with him” — it’s hard for him to choose a moment he’s most proud of so far.
“There are so many,” he said. “I think in season 2, I had to do a lot of screaming and a lot of acting possessed and have a seizure. And that was one crazy extreme to it, to act in that kind of way. But then also in season 4, it was more of, like, his personal struggles and personal heartbreak. And I think acting that part of Will and not the supernatural extreme was also really interesting and a great learning experience. And I think the scene with Will and Mike and the van is an iconic one and has become a meme, but it’s definitely one of my tops.”
As for what he’ll take from set? “Maybe the walkie talkies.”
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