noah schnapp

From a young age, Noah Schnapp started his portrayal of Will Byers in the hugely popular Netflix series, Stranger Things. The New York-born star might have made his acting debut in 2015 when appearing as Roger Donovan alongside Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance in the big screen movie Bridge of Spies, but it was his main role as Will in Stranger Things that helped propel the now 17-year-old into one of the most familiar faces around the globe.

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Photography Anthony Giovanni

Fashion: Edwin J. Ortega

Cinematography:  Sasha Rodionov

Grooming: Maria Ortega

Words: Fabio Magnocavallo

From a young age, Noah Schnapp started his portrayal of Will Byers in the hugely popular Netflix series, Stranger Things. The New York-born star might have made his acting debut in 2015 when appearing as Roger Donovan alongside Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance in the big screen movie Bridge of Spies, but it was his main role as Will in Stranger Things that helped propel the now 17-year-old into one of the most familiar faces around the globe. 

For those who don’t know, Stranger Things, created by the Duffer Brothers, is a science fiction horror drama that first debuted on Netflix on July 15, 2016. Set in the 80’s, it is based on events that take place in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. Due to the local Hawkins National Laboratory secretly experimenting with the paranormal and supernatural, scientists accidentally created a portal to an alternate dimension. Referred to as The Upside Down, it is parallel to the human world and is ruled by The Mind Flayer, sometimes known as the Shadow Monster. 

During the first season, Will is abducted by an unknown creature from The Upside Down. While his friends, family, and the town’s police chief search for Will, viewers learn about a young psychokinetic girl named Eleven. Played by Millie Bobby Brown, she escapes the laboratory and teams up with Will’s friends in trying to find him. Season 2 is set one year later. Will has been rescued but those around him know very few details about the events that left him traumatized. When they find out that Will remains the target of The Upside Down, everyone forms an alliance to stop the threat from increasing. 

The third season kicks off just days leading up to the Fourth of July celebration. This time, the newly-built Starcourt Mall plays a big part in the storyline. Will’s friends overhear a message in Russian, which leaves them feeling suspicious. After translating what they heard, they find out there are Russians in Hawkins who are using Starcourt Mall to reopen The Upside Down. Once again, the entire clan joins forces to kill the Mind Flayer and close the gate to The Upside Down. Ultimately, Police Chief Hopper, played by David Harbour, sacrifices himself so Will’s mom Joyce, played by Winona Ryder, can close the gate and save the town. 

After making fans wait nearly three years, everyone was more than happy to hear that Schnapp and his fellow cast members had returned for the long-awaited return of Season 4, which is being released in two volumes. Part one was released to Netflix on May 27th while the second part made its debut on July 1st. The first part begins six months after the Battle of Starcourt. While struggling with the aftermath, the gang tries to get on with life during their high school years. Before we know it a mysterious, unknown supernatural threat surfaces, putting more people at risk. The gang makes it their mission to finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down world, but there are complications along the way. 

To avoid major spoilers not too much can be discussed surrounding the plot for the much-anticipated new season. However, Schnapp did give MOOD an insight into the filming process.

“This time was different because of COVID, it delayed everything so it was the longest year of filming we’ve ever done,” Schapp shares, adding, “We filmed in so many different places at different times so it was definitely the most chaotic and biggest season we’ve had I think.” 

As soon as the cast was revving to get things going after their table read, the world came to a stop due to the pandemic in early 2020. This resulted in everything being put on hold for nine months. “Oh my god, it felt like it was never going to end,” Schnapp says. Eventually, Season 4 would officially wrap last summer after taking around 300 days to complete. “I actually just saw some of the crew and the cast this past week because we’re starting to do promotional stuff for Season 4. I love filming and love being on set, but I think everyone was ready to move on and go to the next thing. It definitely takes a lot out of you,” he continues. With that being said, Schnapp admits seeing each and everyone involved in the show recently made him realize how much he misses being set with such great people every day. 

Schnapp also detailed how a show as big as Stranger Things goes about shooting each of the episodes for every season. “We specify it by location like where the storylines are taking place,” he says before explaining everything is filmed in sections. “We’ll film the first and second episodes together. One day we could be doing something from episode two and then another thing from episode one. That would be from a certain section,” Schnapp says. “Until we finish that section, then we’ll move into episodes three and four,” he adds. 

Schnapp was around the age of nine when he was cast to play the role of Will and mentions most of the characters were based on the actors themselves. Just like Will, Schnapp was a shy, introverted kid when he was first associated with Stranger Things. Now that he’s a much more grown-up 17, he has become more outgoing and courageous, which is pretty far removed from his character’s personality. Nevertheless, it’s allowed Schnapp to embrace his part even more in recent years. “I think it’s exciting to play someone who is the opposite of me and put myself in those shoes, it’s definitely a very cool acting experience for me,” he says. 

Fans of the show are very passionate about the storylines and individual characters. So passionate, in fact, they are constantly coming up with their own theories for what they believe will be the outcome in future episodes. Schnapp would be completely lying if he said he wasn’t interested in their predictions as he openly confesses he checks them out all the time on Instagram and YouTube. “Sometimes, they’re pretty accurate but it’s interesting to see after we’ve released a trailer or a teaser of the episode name, people will pick it apart,” he says. Schnapp continues, “It’s funny to me because 90 percent of the time they’re so wrong. It’s funny being in the position of knowing everything and watching people trying to figure it out.” 

While being excited for fans to finally see the much-delayed Season 4, Schnapp goes all out and boldly states that this is already his favorite one. As mentioned before, Stranger Things’ fourth season is expected to be larger in every capacity. “Yes, it’s scarier but it also has more romance and is funnier than every last season, it has every single thing but 10 times bigger,” Schapp declares. Filming was going so well during the creative process that even the cast was trying to lay their eyes on the footage during the making of it. “We were begging the directors to see something, we wanted to see how it was going to look,” he continues.

There is so much to take away from Stranger Things. However, one thing Schnapp hopes those growing up with show will do is to accept their inner strengths and become more confident in themselves. “I think a good moral from Stranger Things is that it’s ok to be a freak and that you shouldn’t care what anyone thinks. Even Eleven is such a freak, but she loves and embraces it,” he says. “All the kids are so weird in their own way, but in a good way. I think it’s important for people to see that and embrace that.” 

With so many scenes that keep you gripped, Schnapp took the time to reflect on his favorite moments during the previous seasons. “Every episode has its own special thing about it that was fun to do. In Season 2, it was so exciting for me throughout the whole season to be in such a fresh state and wear contacts and wear makeup all over me and be screaming. It was so challenging but an amazing experience,” he reveals. “I think in general, the last episode of each season is my favorite to film just because it always ends with some sort of happy thing and they always bring the characters back together in one space. It’s really refreshing after months of shooting in our own designated groups to come together and ask what everyone was doing that season.” 

For those that don’t know, Schnapp originally tried out for the part of Mike, which in the end was given to Finn Wolfhard. He had auditioned for Stranger Things, which was called Montauk at the time, before heading off to sleepaway camp in the summer. He found out he had been offered the role of Will through a phone call while away. When it was time for the show to make its debut on Netflix, Schnapp was also at camp, living life as a regular kid. However, when he returned back home, there was an obvious change that he deemed as unexpected. “Just like anything, you never really know what’s going to hit and what doesn’t. I read the script and I was so excited about it and I knew it was going to be great but never anticipated how much of a phenomenon it would become,” Schnapp says about its overnight success.

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He continues: “It was my first TV show to be on Netflix and it kind of just came out and people really resonated with the fact the characters are so easy to connect with.” Schnapp also notes why he thinks the drama is enjoyed by people from more than one demographic. “And with it being set in the 80’s, it’s perfect for every generation. My dad’s age group of people can resonate with it,” he says. 

By casting talented actors and producing suspenseful cliffhangers, Stranger Things have managed to revive the sci-fi genre and has mastered the art of having viewers wanting to come back for more every single time. As soon as Season 3 premiered in July 2019, the show proved to be more popular than ever, attracting 64 million households within the first month. To date, the show has won six Primetime Emmy Awards and three People’s Choice Awards while receiving four Golden Globe and three Grammy Award nominations. Schnapp’s portrayal of Will, in particular, has also allowed him to win big, taking home trophies at the Teen Choice Awards, MTV Movie & TV Awards, and the SAG Awards. 

Stranger Things is no longer just a sought-after drama though. It’s now a strong brand that seemingly will remain relevant in pop culture after its final season, whenever that may be, airs. Just like previous phenomena such as the sitcom Friends or music group The Spice Girls, it’s been pretty hard in recent years to avoid not walking into a retailer and not seeing shelves stacked with all the merchandise. We’re talking apparel, action figures, bags, lip glosses, notebooks, board games, polaroid cameras, and even a water sprinkler for your garden. You name it, it’s available to purchase. 

Since Schnapp’s rise to celebrity and having his face plastered over bedroom walls, he has tried to maintain as much normality as possible. In fact, it is an important and essential factor for the young star. Unlike most kids in entertainment, he isn’t homeschooled and has chosen to continue his education the way he started it. “A lot changed when the show came out, but a lot didn’t,” Schnapp says and mentions his friends didn’t change around him. “My life pretty much changed in the sense that the fame blew everything up and all of a sudden I was getting recognized on the streets, but I had the same friends, went to school, and I love that.”

 

Schnapp acknowledges wearing masks in public has helped him go about his business in private. “It depends on where I am and who I’m with,” he insists, adding, “Usually in the airport, a mall, or on the streets, it’s pretty common. I know who my demographic is now so I pretty much know who knows me and who won’t.” With that being said, Schnapp has no issue being recognized and appreciates the effort his fans make to engage in conversation with him about his work. “It’s great because I love meeting my fans, and it’s so cool to see them in person and hear what they have to say. I love taking pictures with them and everything,” Schnapp says. 

The next step for the teen star is going to college. In December, he uploaded a TikTok video that detailed his reaction to him getting accepted into the University of Pennsylvania, often referred to as Penn, while in the company of his twin sister Chloe and his parents. The less than 30 seconds-long clip quickly went viral online and was even shared on Netflix’s socials. Schnapp initially appears nervous at the beginning of the video before finding out. However, as soon he clicks on his email, he quickly gets out of his seat and starts jumping up and down with his proud family. Schnapp was seen wearing a navy blue hoodie with “Wharton” written across the front in large white text because that is the name of the university’s business school, which he will be attending. “I’m studying entrepreneurship and then also finance and probably gonna minor in film,” he announces. “I’m really excited to learn about business and maybe be able to produce things in the future as well.” 

Due to Schnapp’s high-profile status and in-demand acting career, many were shocked to find out that he had hopes of going to college. In spite of that, this has always been the plan and something he has wanted to do. “My main priority was school and to definitely go to college and have that education and experience,” he reveals. “I never wanted to let Stranger Things or fame change that. I’m really excited to go.” 

Nonetheless, fans have nothing to worry about. Just because his college days are starting soon doesn’t mean he will put acting on the back burner. Instead, he will balance the two, like he’s always done. “When certain things arrive, I’ll have to put school on hold,” Schnapp explains. 

Chasing the dream of being a successful entrepreneur, he has already put his business skills to the test. During the final months of 2021, Schnapp launched his own brand, Snack TBH. He released what he believes is a better version of his most-cherished treat to eat: chocolate hazelnut spread. “Hazelnuts aren't the main ingredient and the amount of sugar alone made me realize I wasn't doing myself any favors. And ultimately, palm oil is responsible for mass deforestation and that was something I couldn't support,” he explains on the brand's website. “I refused to imagine a world without my favorite snack so I started working on TBH, an honest hazelnut cocoa spread that is better for you and better for the planet.” 

With more products expected in the future, Schnapp admits it wasn’t the easiest task to get the first one out. “It was definitely a long process,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to launch something of my own and I just combined the things that I have passion for. I love health, I love food and sustainability, and I love Nutella so I took that all together and made an improved, better for you, better for the planet product.” 

“It was definitely an amazing experience to be a part of, it’s still a great learning experience as we’re getting it into stores. It was really incredible to be on Zoom doing meetings, building this product, watching the label get built, and picking the colors and name. It’s definitely an intensive process, I loved every step of it,” Schnapp continues. The drive to continue wanting to absorb something new is clearly a desire Schnapp craves. “I have a lot of aspirations,” he declares. Before even having the opportunity to take Snack TBH to the next level, he already knows he wants to build more brands. On the acting front, he would love to produce, direct, and even have the chance to star in his own work. A dream role for Schnapp would be something Spiderman-related. “I think anything in Marvel would be super cool, I’ve always wanted to be a part of that world,” he says. Schnapp has never been shy about his admiration for fellow actor Zendaya Coleman and states he would love to feature in something with her. 

With more than 20 million Instagram followers and over 350 million likes on TikTok, it appears the public’s interest in keeping up with what’s going on in Schnapp's world is increasing by the day. “I love TikTok because it’s very real and it’s not like Instagram where all that fake stuff is kind of fabricated and artificial,” he explains. “On TikTok, it’s a platform where I can be myself and my fans love that, that’s why I always love being on it.” However, feeling the need to always be active on social media does take a toll on the actor. “I definitely take breaks sometimes. There’s definitely a lot of pressure to be posting and stuff but I don’t really let that concern me. I just share something when I like,” Schnapp continues, adding, “Sometimes I try to take a break and delete the app, but it’s too hard for me.” 

Just like Season 4 of Stranger Things, 2022 is going to be Schnapp’s biggest and most successful year to date. For that reason, contentment is what he hopes to maintain throughout. “I have a general goal to succeed and be happy and for my family and friends to be the same,” Schnapp says.

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