Joseph Quinn can now be seen in Season 4, Vol. 2 of "Stranger Things." Photo courtesy of Netflix
NEW YORK, July 2 (UPI) -- Joseph Quinn, one of the new additions to Stranger Things Season 4, admits he is shocked by the overwhelming online love and support fans have been showing for his character Eddie Munson.
"It's a relief, really. When you join a show like this, you're aware people are pretty devoted to it," Quinn told reporters in a virtual roundtable interview Friday, hours after the season finale premiered on Netflix, causing millions of eager viewers to crash the streaming service's servers.
"The fact that people have been so gracious and welcoming to Eddie was a bit of an exhale. The magnitude of the reception was completely disarming," Quinn added.
Set in a fictional Indiana town in the 1980s, the sci-fi horror show follows best friends Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Max (Sadie Sink) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) as they are repeatedly called upon to save the world from dimension-hopping monsters and shadowy government scientists.
The pals meet Eddie when they move up from Hawkins middle school to high school and, before long, the quirky and unpopular senior welcomes them into his Dungeons & Dragons medieval role-playing game group.
When people start turning up dead in gruesome ways, Eddie's neighbors and classmates immediately brand him a cult leader and blame him for the violence.
Only his new friends know there is a supernatural explanation for the body count and they fight to clear Eddie's name as they battle the evil Henry/Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower), a powerful creature who wants to literally drain the life out of Max.
Quinn admitted he is proud of the way Eddie goes down in an epic Upsidedown fight in the season's final moments, but he is also sad that the character's heroism and sacrifice is never recognized outside of his small circle of friends.
"I don't think it's very fair, but I think it fits into the rest of the theme of this season. It's more adult. It's brutal. It's more frightening," Quinn said.
"You sense that life isn't always easy and I think you feel that this season. You feel like it's more mature and whilst we'd all like Eddie to be celebrated and get the hero's death he deserves, I think it's classier storytelling."
The actor isn't sure why fans connected so much with Eddie, shooting down the idea that it might be his outsider status that makes him so lovable.
"Most of the characters in this show seem to be an outsider in one way or another," he pointed out.
"The people that are deemed as 'popular' or in the 'it' crowd seem to be kind of weirdos. Caleb has this brilliant line: 'What is normal? It's a raging psychopath,'" Quinn said.
"Eddie is a non-conformist and he is a metalhead and kind of the antithesis of everything that is deemed 'cool' in this kind of American high school. I don't know if it's his outsider status because a lot of people seem to be on the margins of the social elite. I don't know what people have connected to him through, but I'm glad that they found something."
Viewers' reactions on social media suggest one of their favorite elements of Season 4 has been watching Dustin go from idolizing Steve (Joe Keery) to putting Eddie on a pedestal, making the older guys awkwardly protective of their younger friend.
"Joe Keery and Gaten already had this kind of bromance legacy that people are very fond of," Quinn said.
"So, I was a little cautious of treading on some people's shoes, but it was great fun, that dynamic of Steve being quite possessive of Dustin and Eddie being jealous of Steve."
Bower told UPI in a separate Zoom chat that he was intrigued at the idea of playing a villain that feeds on the energy of the emotionally damaged.
"In those moments of weakness, when people are going through this guilt and this shame, they are very vulnerable," he said.
"That opens up the opportunity for the darker energy of Vecna or whatever to come in. Metaphorically, that is a really interesting talking point."
The actor also loved the notion of how some of the show's characters, including Max, use music as a defense to keep Henry/Vecna from getting inside their heads and taking control of their thoughts.
"I love that. Music, for me, is and can be, my safe space. It can be the thing that I use to just feel OK and to not feel alone," Bower said.
"That's a beautiful moment that, even in our greatest moments of despair, there's always an artist out there who has felt the same way and makes us feel and that is just gorgeous.
"Maybe Henry would have been alright if he had had a Walkman," Bower laughed.
Stranger Things has a huge cast and most scenes feature at least several of the actors together, but Vecna spends most of his time alone or fighting characters such as Max and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) one-on-one.
Bower also spent hours each day in the hair and makeup chair to achieve Vecna's distinctive, gory and otherworldly look.
Ultimately, the solitude helped the actor play a character who feels so alienated he wants to destroy humanity.
"Not only did I feel isolated from the others because of the makeup chair, I purposefully isolated [myself]. I often wouldn't see people," he said.
"I'd often just stay at home. Everyone's so lovely and I became very good friends with a lot of the cast. They'd invite me out, but they knew, by the end of it, that I wanted to be on my own and then when everything finished, I was able to hang out with them a lot more. Isolating was a really big part of it and, pandemic! Talk about being isolated!"
The show's cast also includes Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Noah Schnapp, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, Brett Gelman, Cara Buono, Paul Reiser and Matthew Modine. It has been renewed for a fifth and final season.