Joe Keery, the 24-year-old heartthrob from Netflix’s summer hit “Stranger Things,” is enjoying his first taste of Hollywood fame. The Newburyport, Mass. native was waiting tables at a Chicago burger joint when he learned he’d nabbed the role of high school bully Steve Harrington, part of an ensemble cast that includes Winona Ryder. While it’s not yet known whether the Eighties-set sci-fi thriller will be back for a second season, Keery and his enviable head of hair seem to be here to stay.
WWD: What does it mean to be a card-carrying member of Young Hollywood?
Joe Keery: Who knows at this point? This is the first time I’ve ever done it. It’s crazy.
WWD: How are you adjusting to the newfound attention?
J.K.: Mostly, people want to take pictures sometimes of me or they’ll say hey. That’s been kinda cool. It’s been awesome that people like the show.
WWD: When you were filming the series in Atlanta, did you have any idea the show would be as big of a hit as it’s become?
J.K.: Reading the script, I thought it was really great. I thought people who are into a similar a genre of [Eighties nostalgia] movies as I was would be into it, but I didn’t necessarily know that a bunch of people, like, all over the world, would be into it. It’s been pretty wild.
WWD: What’s been the most interesting fan experience so far?
J.K.: I live in Chicago and I play in a band there. I had this girl, during one of the shows, standing in the front row going, “Hey Steve. Steve. Steve.” The whole time.
WWD: Tell us about your band.
J.K.: We’re called Post Animal. It’s a psychedelic, rock and roll band. Our music is on Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes. We’ve toured a little bit around the Midwest, but hopefully come springtime we’re going to do more of a full-length tour. I’ve been doing both music and acting since I was pretty little. Just for fun. Being able to peruse both professionally is the greatest thing in the whole world. I feel pretty blessed.
WWD: You’ve got a great look — on the show and in life. Are you a fashion guy?
J.K.: Kinda. Mostly, my fashion [consists of] going to the thrift store and repurposing old stuff. That’s how I like to do it. But I’ve been taking a lot lately from the eighties, I think, because of the show. And I also like the sixties as well.
WWD: Your hair on the show is similar to your hair in real life. Have you always rocked this look?
J.K.: I’ve always kinda had long, big hair and people are always like, “Crazy hair dude.” Now everyone knows about it, I guess. It’s out there.