Halloween is my favorite holiday for many reasons, from TV marathons to horror-related shopping, and this year has the added bonus of Stranger Things Season 2 dropping on October 31. The creators are known to have been inspired by Stephen King in crafting the Netflix hit, and the next batch of episodes was influenced in part by another genre icon: James Cameron's Aliens. And it's apparently all about humanity's inherent inability to tell if Paul Reiser could be an evil douchebag or not. Here's how co-creator Ross Duffer used the comedian's casting to explain the sci-fi connection.
We want people to have those debates like, 'Do you trust that guy or is he Burke?' Paul was saying the reason James Cameron cast him is because he thought people would inherently trust him and it would be a twist.
This approach to casting an important character is so meta, I almost expect Helen Hunt to play the wife of Paul Reiser's mystery-cloaked Dr. Owens, who is brought to Hawkins to run the laboratory. But I'm not mad about it, since this is just the kind of nerdy shit I love. For those that somehow aren't familiar with Aliens, which is about to get spoiled, Reiser played a character whose early-film friendliness was soon revealed to be an act fueled by bureaucratic instincts, and it's one of the best shocks in the genre. So playing just such an iconic movie moment against fan expectations is pretty genius.
Before taking Aliens, Paul Reiser was best known for his stand-up comedy career and for his memorable role in Diner, so no one expected him to take a villainous role in a Hollywood blockbuster sequel. In recent years, Reiser has played a man betrothed to a woman many years his junior on FX's short-lived comedy Married and an overbearing father and boss (and possible criminal) on Amazon's dramedy Red Oaks. Neither is exactly a world-conquering villain, but they're perhaps just antagonistic enough to imply that his energy-minded scientist will be revealed as a good guy on Stranger Things. Unless he's not.
At this point, not even Paul Reiser himself can make any concrete statements about where Dr. Owens' true intentions lie, since nobody is giving him the whole story just yet. As he told EW here, though, he's already pretty suspicious of himself.
I have a certain thing in my head that I'm playing. I did a scene a few weeks ago with David Harbour, and it was a heated scene where he's sort of holding me accountable. My lines were to the effect of, 'Trust me. Everything is fine.' I said, 'I don't believe me and I am me!' It just feels like there's such a well-worn precedent not just of Aliens but in life when a government guy says, 'No, you're fine. There's nothing to worry about here.' It's like, 'Yeah, I don't believe you.'
We likely won't find out what Dr. Owens is really up to until we're already watching the episodes, which can't come soon enough. As stated earlier, Stranger Things Season 2 will finally make it to our eyes and ears and Twitter feeds on Tuesday, October 31, 2017. In the meantime, check out the first trailer and character details, as well as everything that's coming to Netflix this year, and head to our midseason premiere schedule.