“It was like a family reunion, but there was a lot of stress because of how high the stakes are,” Gaten Matarazzo, the 15-year-old known as lispy Dustin on the show, says in the current issue of PEOPLE.
Adds his 13-year-old costar Noah Schnapp: “There was a lot of pressure to keep things secret. Everyone was always worried there was a mole on set!”
And while there’s not a lot they could share about the new season before it launched Friday, the cast did open up a bit about what fans can expect from season 2.
“It’s set a year later, in 1984, but everyone is still dealing with what happened [at the end of season 1]. No one can really go back to the way they used to be,” says Finn Wolfhard, 14, who stars as Mike.
“The first season was an homage to the ’80s, but this one is darker and more emotional. And the last two episodes are like an epic blockbuster action movie,” adds Millie Bobby Brown, 13, who plays Eggo-loving Eleven.
“There are also some new characters, like Max [played by Sadie Sink]. My character, Lucas, thinks she’s, like, so pretty,” Caleb McLaughlin, 16, says of the new season, which also features new cast members Paul Reiser and Sean Astin.
- For more from the cast of Stranger Things — including what to expect from season 2 — pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now
Season 2 will also see Schnapp’s character Will spending less time in the Upside Down and more time with his friends.
“It was amazing,” Schnapp says of filming scenes with the rest of the cast. “The first year I didn’t get to experience the whole process. But this time I was filming every day and got really close with everyone.”
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Adds McLaughlin: “This season was fun because we got to hang out with Noah. And we went to Six Flags together outside of filming.”
Schnapp says his character “finds his bravery” this season, but Brown’s Eleven appears to have gone through the biggest physical change since season 1.
“I feel like my shaved head said ‘bada–,’ but this season she’s more vulnerable and scared, so she has a different look. It’s more of a coming-of-age story for her,” says Brown. “She’s trying to be a normal teenager. … That’s something I’m also going through right now.”
Season 2 of Stranger Things is now streaming on Netflix.