'Stranger Things' Season 3 Actor Jake Busey Says Nostalgia Makes It Scarier

"It helps with striking fear in the gut."

If you grew up in the ‘80s, Stranger Things probably gives you a sense of nostalgia. It certainly does for Season 3 cast member, Jake Busey. As he tells Inverse, he was impressed by how creators Ross and Matt Duffer recreated the world of 1984 and ‘85 and how it amps up the horror levels of an already pretty scary show.

Light spoilers for Stranger Things Season 3 below.

Busey joins the cast of the Netflix series in Season 3 in the “good” and “big role” of Bruce, a journalist in Hawkins with “a sick sense of humor.” That’s all he can reveal about his character at the moment, but he can’t say enough about how much he likes the series and the Duffer Brothers who created it.

In his mind, it’s the fact that he was the same age in the ‘80s as the kids are on Stranger Things that makes the show especially appealing.

“It just looked like the world looked when I was 12,” Busey says. “I had the same video games, the same games, the same bicycle, the same clothing, the same everything that the kids have on the show. So it really was, as far as demographics of audience members, it was perfectly crafted for a person in my situation at my particular age.”

He specifically points to the games the kids play — Galaga, Dig Dug, and Dragon’s Lair — and the fact that they ride their bicycles to the arcade as his favorite ‘80s references.

“Those were my games,” he says. “ I felt like they wrote it and they knew my childhood.”

Not only does he consider that familiarity “gratifying,” he also thinks it allows viewers to feel just like the kids do about the scarier aspects of the show.

“I believe it helps with striking fear in the gut when it came to the Demogorgon and the Mind Flayer,” he says. “Because the show put me in a reality that was so familiar.”

The demogorgon in 'Stranger Things'
The demogorgon in 'Stranger Things'

Busey thinks that a 17-year-old watching the series has a different experience. For them, he likens it to watching “an old movie” rather than something that “really struck home” for him.

He credits the Duffer Brothers for that feeling, and before meeting them Busey built the showrunners up in his head into creative geniuses. It didn’t help that a friend had met with the Duffers and came away describing them as “incredible innovators” doing work beyond anyone else in the industry.

“So, when I was watching the show, it was so amazing, and I thought, ‘Yeah, these guys are the revolutionaries of the industry, the show is amazing and my God, I will never have the opportunity to work on something like that,’” he continues.

He didn’t see himself as “belonging” with “the cool kids.” Fast forward to Stranger Things Season 3 and Busey is part of the team, something he credits with positively affecting his career.

He compares his excitement over joining the cast to how he felt about Starship Troopers, though it’s not quite the same. Back then, no one knew how successful the movie would be. With the Netflix series, he’s joining an already successful series.

“It really, really did change my outlook and I feel like it’s definitely changing how my career is being addressed by people, which is a rumbling excitement that I haven’t experienced in 20 years,” he says. “So it’s really incredible.”

Stranger Things Season 3 will be released on July 4 on Netflix.


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