We took the actor, who plays Steve Harrington on Netflix’s blockbuster show and possesses one of the most iconic manes to ever hit the small screen, to Montreal to try on this season’s best designer jackets.
When you sat down to binge-watch the first season of Stranger Things, you probably thought you knew exactly what you could expect from Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), the requisite popular kid at Hawkins High School. Smirky, cocky, and with a well-earned reputation as a heartbreaker, Steve seemed poised to be one of the show’s big villains—the ’80s bully to end all ’80s bullies.
But over the course of Stranger Things‘ first season, something strange really didhappen: Steve—in the hands of the impressively coiffed up-and-comer Joe Keery—evolved from being a smarmy jerk to a flawed but ultimately well-intentioned protagonist in his own right. By the end of Season One, Steve had dumped his awful friends, made amends with Jonathan (Charlie Heaton), and salvaged his relationship with Nancy (Natalia Dyer). Of course, Season Two is another story entirely—but we’re not going to spoil that here.
So what’s it like to go from waiting tables to being at the center of one of TV’s buzziest shows in the span of a single year? We caught up with Joe Keery in Montreal to get a peek into the mind of Stranger Things‘ bad boy with a heart of gold.
At Wilensky’s Light Lunch. Shearling leather bomber jacket, $1,970, andsweatshirt, by AMI / Trousers by Moncler / Socks by Stance / Sneakers by Common Projects / Aaron Feaver
How He Got the Part
“When I first auditioned for Stranger Things, I was just living in Chicago. Just looking for a job. Working at a restaurant, doing commercials and bit parts on shows. I honestly would have been happy booking anything. But I remember seeing the concept trailer the Duffer Brothers put together. The boys took these bits and pieces from all the movies that inspired them—Jaws, E.T., The Thing, Firestarter—and they cut them together into a mock trailer for what they wanted the vibe of the show to be. I was like, “Oh, man. This would be so, so cool.” But as an actor, you audition for something and forget about it, because you figure, “Yeah, that was really fun. Probably won’t get it. On to the next one.”
At Fairmount Bagel Bakery. Shearling storm coat, $3,230, by A.P.C. Louis W. / Denim shirt and jeans by A.P.C. / Boots by New Republic by Mark McNairy / Belt by J.Crew Aaron Feave
Steve Harrington Was Supposed to be Even More of a Dick
“Originally, I auditioned for Jonathan. They were having everybody across the country audition for that. And when I got the script, Steve was definitely a little harsher. He was having this party—I think it was on a beach, because it originally took place in Montauk, Long Island. And he was a total, total dick. He forced himself on Nancy. Way harsher. But I think the Duffer Brothers were up for incorporating ideas we would have into the characters, and I had an instant idea what Steve would be like. I based it on people in my life, and characters that you see in those movies. In my mind, I think he has qualities that make him sort of a jerk. And aloof. And maybe not the most intelligent guy. But at the end of the day, I think he really does mean well.”
Jacket, $3,020, by Prada / Sweater, scarf and trousers by Prada / Socks by Falke / Shoes by Church’s / Sunglasses by Steven Alan Aaron Feaver
On Season Two’s Outsized Expectations
“Everyone is really excited—but at the same time, there’s an audience of people who are waiting and expecting Season Two to live up to the first season. But pressure’s also good, you know? When you’re backed into a corner, you’re forced to sink or swim, and I think people will like what we came up with. The new people we brought into the mix are some unbelievably talented actors. Paul Resier, Brett Gelman, Sean Astin… you list those people’s names, and you think about the films, and experience, and all the things they’ve worked on. I was sitting next to Sean Astin at the table read, and I was like, “I can’t believe I’m sitting next to Rudy.” It’s the craziest thing.”
At Beautys Luncheonette. Denim jacket, $795, by CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC / Turtleneck by CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC
The Worst Kind of Relationship Goals
“Steve has gone from this super-confident sort of ladies’ man to this needy boyfriend. I had friends—and I had situations—where you spend so much time hanging out with your girlfriend that you lose touch with other people. You only really have this one person—and when that person starts to let go, you almost feel like you need to clamp on even harder, you know?”
At the Hotel William Gray. Suede jacket, $6,990, by Tom Ford / Henleyand sweater by Tom Ford / Jeans by Acne Studios / Socks by Falke /Shoes by J.Crew Aaron Feaver
On Being a 25-Year-Old Teen
“I still looking relatively young for my age, so I find myself going in for these teenage roles. But as time goes on, I feel less and less like a teenager. Like… I shouldn’t be auditioning for a teenager. Certain things will always hurt: rejection, or loss. But I just turned 25. I’ll be turning 26 this year. It’s actually getting kind of far away for me. But I’m a working adult… so if I’ve gotta be a teenager, I’ll do it. [laughs]”
Down jacket, $1,890, by Moncler / Jeans by John Elliott / Sneakers by Adidas / Beanie by Poler
Keery Knows It’s All About the Hair
“Do I get recognized? I guess it depends on if I’m wearing a hat or not. The hairdo is a dead giveaway. There’s nothing I can do. It’s just the way my hair grows. It’s my parents’ fault, really, because they have such big hair too. People always ask me, but it’s not like I use a shitload of hairspray or anything. I wash it probably every two or three days. On set—that’s the real preparation. There’s a whole process. Washing the hair at a specific time before coming in to shoot, and then a whole blowdrying routine, and then doing a thing to the back, and getting it cut a specific way. On set, the process is pretty lengthy. But in my normal, everyday life… most of the time, it totally looks like shit.”
At L’Gros Luxe. Suede jacket, $4,990, by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello / Sweater and trousers by Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello / Socks by Falke / Loafers by Sebago / Watch by SeikoAaron Feaver
The Strange Thing About Style Right Now
“’80s style is contemporary style now. Especially shoes. But people who have already experienced the ’80s, I think, are less likely to go back there style-wise. Since I experienced the late ’90s and early 2000s, when people start wearing low-rise jeans, and getting frosted tips again… I don’t think I’m gonna go there.”
At the Hotel William Gray. Jacket by Berluti, price upon request / T-shirt and trousers by Berluti / Belt by Tom Ford Aaron Feaver