Sean Astin made his live-action Netflix debut in a big way with Stranger Things Season 2, where he played the lovable but ill-fated Bob Newby. Bob seemed like such a great guy that some fans suspected that he had to secretly be a bad guy. Alas, Bob really was just a good guy who got caught up in an ugly mess. Fortunately, Astin returned to live-action Netflix in new dramedy No Good Nick, and his experiences on Stranger Things impacted him in his new role in some fun ways.
Speaking with CinemaBlend about No Good Nick and how his new character was influenced by good old Bob Newby, Sean Astin said this:
My whole character is a shout-out to Bob from Stranger Things. Bob was trying to become a kind of stepfather figure to the boys, and clearly obviously wanted to be with Joyce, so he represented some hint of normalcy for them or what their future might hold as a family unit. Well, Bob didn't make it, but I got to step from that role, which was kind of a goofy stepdad type into a goofy dad. I think Ed, my character in this show, owes a debt of gratitude to Bob from Stranger Things. For sure, no question about it.
On No Good Nick, Sean Astin played Ed Thompson, husband of Liz and father of Molly and Jeremy. Their lives are turned upside down when a 13-year-old girl by the name of Nick -- short for Nicole -- turns up as a long-lost family member in need of a home after the deaths of her parents... or so it seems. Nick really infiltrated the family for the purpose of revenge on the family for unknowingly ruining her life, but as she connects with the Thompsons, her mission becomes more complicated.
Of the Thompson parents, Liz (Melissa Joan Hart) is the one more likely to lay down the law on the kids of the house, with Ed preferring to be the fun parent. There are definitely shades of Bob Newby in Ed Thompson.
Just as Bob sort of stumbled into the whole mess with the Upside Down and Hawkins Lab when all he wanted to do was become part of the Byers family unit in Stranger Things, Ed finds himself in the middle of a shady mission for revenge when all he wants to do is help out a young girl who is seemingly all alone in the world.
Both characters are goofy and seemingly always on the verge of dropping a dad joke, and what could be more endearing? Considering how different the premises of Stranger Things and No Good Nick are, the odds are pretty good that Sean Astin's No Good Nick character won't meet the same fate as Bob Newby.
Still, Sean Astin humorously wouldn't spoil even a little bit of what's in store for Ed in the second half of Season 1, which has not yet released on Netflix. Here's his answer when I asked if it was safe to say that Ed won't be devoured by demo-dogs on No Good Nick:
I can definitely say that Ed is not going to be killed by demo-dogs in the first half of the season. After that, audiences are just going to have to see.
Will Ed live a long and happy life, raising his kids despite the plot against the family courtesy of Nick? Or will he be killed and eaten by monsters from an alternate dimension? I'm going to wager a guess that No Good Nick will keep the action in just one universe rather than crossing over with Stranger Things, but we'll have to wait and see what happens in the second half of Season 1. The first half is certainly a doozy.
Ed Thompson as a shout-out to Bob Newby isn't the only way that Stranger Things impacted Sean Astin on No Good Nick. Here's what he had to say when I asked if working with the kids on Stranger Things made a difference in interacting with the kids of No Good Nick:
I think so, in the sense that I was reminded anew about how professional young performers can be. Noah [Schnapp], some of the stuff he does like in that hospital bed, and all the kids, I just watched them show up to the location prepared, on time, focused, and ready to work. And what can you say? Basically you're just talking about interacting with colleagues at that point.
Anybody who watched Stranger Things Season 2 can undoubtedly agree that Noah Schnapp was remarkable as the unfortunate Will Byers, not to mention the rest of the youngsters who played the party of middle schoolers. Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven, was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Emmy in Drama for both seasons so far, although she did not take home a trophy.
According to Sean Astin, the kids of Stranger Things were a reminder that young actors can be just as professional as adult actors, and he noted the same thing in the young cast members on No Good Nick. He went on to explain the process of joining the cast of No Good Nick and how he interacted with the teen actors:
They enjoyed hearing stories about Lord of the Rings and kind of my exploits in Goonies and that kind of stuff, but anybody could be interested in that. I've always known that young performers are capable of being interacted with in a mature manner. You can carry on conversations that maybe other kids their age might not be able to carry on. But when I got to do No Good Nick, I showed up. I had to test for this. It was what they call a chemistry read, but it's basically a test. The creators come down and the casting director, and I think they show it to the network before a decision's made. You know, it's a test. And the three kids had already gotten their parts.
So when I flew in from New York to do my test, I was auditioning and they were helping me. They knew their dialogue because they had similar audition scenes, and we just worked together. We jumped right in and I just remember looking at these kids and thinking, 'Hey, man, thank you so much!' I really appreciate their enthusiasm, their warmth, and their professionalism. So I think doing Stranger Things just kind of refreshed my memory that that's what kids are capable of, and when I got here, that just continued.
Despite the fact that Sean Astin is a showbiz veteran and alum of what is arguably Netflix's biggest show, he was not the first person cast with the rest of the roles filled in around him. The young actors landed their roles first.
Fortunately, the chemistry read between Astin and the actors that had already been cast went well, and Astin can be found in No Good Nick playing a dad figure who probably won't be killed trying to escape a government lab swarming with monsters from another dimension.
The show may feel like a family sitcom starting off, but it becomes something much more as the episodes progress, and it's definitely worth tuning in. Astin explained why Stranger Things doesn't need to revisit Bob, so fans shouldn't count on him turning up somehow in Season 3 this summer.