Boycott Prompts ‘Stranger Things’ Lead to Leave Set Indefinitely Mid-Filming

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Eleven and Will Byers in Stranger Things season 4.

Credit: Netflix

Noah Schnapp has walked off the set of Stranger Things on a hiatus following the months of controversy that he has faced.

Since Hamas launched a shocking attack on Israel in October, igniting a war that has resulted in thousands of deaths, numerous celebrities have faced backlash for their comments on the conflict.

stranger things
Credit: Netflix

However, few have sparked as much controversy as Noah Schnapp. The Jewish-American actor has repeatedly made headlines in recent months for his remarks on the Israel-Hamas war, leading to calls for his cancelation and fans threatening to boycott the upcoming fifth season of Stranger Things.

The 19-year-old has portrayed Will Byers in the sci-fi hit since 2016, with some fans now refusing to watch the show unless Schnapp is either fired or written out. Despite the backlash, crisis communications experts suggest that this may only be a temporary setback in the actor’s career.

On October 7, the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking another 250 hostage.

Israel responded by declaring war on Hamas and launching airstrikes into the neighboring Gaza Strip, where the group is based. Supplies of food, energy, fuel, and medicine into the area were halted before a ground offensive was initiated in late October.

Schnapp first faced criticism a few days after the October 7 attacks. He shared a statement on Instagram, expressing sorrow for both Israeli and Palestinian civilians caught up in the conflict.

Noah Schnapp as Will Byers looking scared in the 'Stranger Things' Season 4 finale
Credit: Netflix

However, the phrase “You either stand with Israel or you stand with terrorism” caused significant controversy, compounded by Schnapp’s terse replies to pro-Palestinian commenters.

In November, the former child star faced further backlash after posing with a sticker that read “Zionism is sexy.” According to Britannica, Zionism is a Jewish national movement dedicated to the “creation and support of a Jewish national state in Palestine.”

Within a month, Schnapp lost 490,000 Instagram followers and over 11,000 subscribers on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter.

After Schnapp liked a video by Israeli actress Noa Tishby, which some people accused of being Islamophobic, threats of a boycott against Stranger Things began to surface.

Season 4 of Stranger Things was the most-streamed TV show in the U.S. during 2022. The eagerly awaited final season began filming in January, following a 10-month hiatus due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

Nevertheless, several fans have condemned the production on social media, refusing to watch the next season unless Schnapp is dismissed or written out.

Schnapp addressed the backlash in January. In a TikTok video, the Bridge of Spies star said his beliefs about the conflict had been “misconstrued,” and that he wanted “peace and safety” for civilians on both sides of the war.

“I wanted to just state from my heart how I feel,” Schnapp said. “I’ve had many open discussions with friends from Palesti—Palestinian background and I think those are very important conversations to have and I’ve learned a lot.”

Eleven and Will Byers in Stranger Things season 4.
Credit: Netflix

He continued: “We are all human and we’re all the same and we should all love each other for that and support each other and stand together. And stand together for humanity and for peace.”

Although many people praised Schnapp’s willingness to self-reflect and grow, others criticized his response, accusing the former child star of backtracking to maintain his role on Stranger Things.

Stranger Things on Spain, a Stranger Things fan account shared a video of Schnapp singing along to a song while on hiatus from Stranger Things. Their post wrote, “Noah Schnapp is in LOS ANGELES. Looks like he’s on his REST/VACATION days from the FILMING of Stranger Things 5“. While the account states they pulled the video from TikTok, presumably Noah’s, his TikTok now has all videos removed entirely with his 31+ million followers.

These breaks are given to the cast when they are not needed on set, as we recently saw with Millie Bobby Brown, who went to Disney World on her hiatus. It is not clear for how long Schnapp will be away from set.

Will Byers’ journey in Stranger Things began with him getting lost in the Upside Down, forging a unique connection with the villain Vecna. Since season one, Will has been a key player, and his signature bowl cut has been as iconic as his struggles. While it fit a younger Will, it’s time for a change!

A recent set photo shared by show creator Ross Duffer reveals a makeover for Will. Gone is the bowl cut, replaced by a more mature, wavy shag. This haircut might be even shorter in another photo, but it could just be the pose.

Duffer’s photos offer fans a glimpse into filming, expected to wrap by January 2025, hinting at a late 2025 release for the final season.

While Will’s disappearance kicked off Stranger Things, his presence seemed to fade as the series progressed. Noah Schnapp portrays the challenges Will faces reconnecting with friends after escaping the Upside Down. The trauma lingers, even after season 4’s conclusion. His connection to the Upside Down and Vecna solidify Will’s importance, especially with season 5 looming.

Stranger Things
Credit: Netflix

Schnapp himself hints at a bigger role for Will, suggesting the story “started with Will, and it’ll end with Will.” A photo featuring Schnapp with a younger actor suggests flashbacks, possibly revisiting pivotal moments from Will’s past. The younger actor’s costume hints at CGI use, similar to Eleven’s flashbacks in season 4. This, combined with Schnapp’s season 1-like outfit, suggests a deeper dive into Will’s early struggles, foreshadowing future challenges.

Several factors hint at Will potentially revisiting his past. Max Mayfield’s experience facing Vecna in season 4, where she confronted past memories, comes to mind. Given Will’s connection to the Upside Down, he could face a similar ordeal.

Adding fuel to the fire, the Stranger Things account shared the opening scene description for the final season: “Darkness. Cold wind, groaning trees, and a child’s voice singing a familiar song.” Remember Will singing “Should I Stay or Should I Go” in season 1?

Considering Will’s expanded role, the photo, the script tease, the lingering effects of Vecna, and season 4’s use of flashbacks, it seems likely we’ll revisit season 1 with Will in the Upside Down.

Will Byers in 'Stranger Things' Season 4
Credit: Netflix

The Duffer Brothers have long known the show’s ending, and it seems they’re coming full circle. “We see each season as its own story,” Matt Duffer explains, “but there’s a larger mythology… We’ve been revealing more and more each season, and we have a general sense of where we’re going. The ending has been set for a while.”

Do you have an issue with the ongoing Noah Schnapp drama? Will it deter you from watching the final season?

 

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