Behind The Scenes

Stranger Things 3 | The Starcourt Mall

Episode Summary

It’s summer 1985 and Starcourt Mall just opened its air conditioned doors. In this episode, you’ll find out how the Stranger Things crew renovated a dilapidated mall, restoring it to its 1980's glory. But don’t be fooled by the shiny new Orange Julius and Sam Goody, this mall is hiding some major secrets.

Episode Notes

It’s summer 1985 and Starcourt Mall just opened its air conditioned doors. In this episode, you’ll find out how the Stranger Things crew renovated a dilapidated mall, restoring it to its 1980's glory. But don’t be fooled by the shiny new Orange Julius and Sam Goody, this mall is hiding some major secrets.

Episode Transcription

Dan Taberski: This is a code red, I repeat, this is a code red. There are spoilers ahead. So make sure to watch all of Stranger Things Three on Netflix before going any further.

Audio From Stranger Things: Earth, America, Indiana, Hawkins, a growing patriotic community and a shining example of the American dream.

Dan Taberski: It's summer 1985 and Hawkins, Indiana. The perms are tight, the shoulders are padded and the Starcourt Mall just opened its air conditioned doors.

Audio From ST: Families, friends, and of course teenagers can come together to shop, hang out, dine, and enjoy.

Dan Taberski: Starcourt is the biggest set we've ever seen on Stranger Things. It's built inside a real mall near Atlanta that has two stories. Then almost 40 stores.

Audio From ST: The Starcourt Mall has it all.

Ross Duffer: The early days of the writer's room are always for, for us the most fun because you're just blue skying.

Dan Taberski: This is Ross Duffer, he and his twin brother Matt are the co-creators of Stranger Things. They're also executive producers, writers, directors. They're involved in pretty much every layer of the show. When Ross says that they were blue skying, he means that at this point in the process, they're gathering the big ideas for what could happen without any pesky details, no constraints, no clouds in the sky.

Ross Duffer: It gets much more challenging after then, once you've come up with the cool ideas to try to make it all work together and all these various storylines sort of weave in and out together and then you just keep running into walls.

Dan Taberski: But in the first few weeks of sketching out the season, they're not worrying about running into walls. They're just trying to see which ideas stick to them and opening a mall in Hawkins, that idea stuck.

Matt Duffer: The mall when that was pitched, we got that. That's it. We got to do the mall.

Dan Taberski: This is Matt Duffer, you know the other Duffer and this kernel of an idea that popped into this massive mall setting started in the Stranger Things writers room.

Paul Dichter: And it immediately felt like, oh, this is going to be one of the touchstones of the season. It just felt so fun and so real to what it feels like to grow up in a small town and a town like Hawkins, which a few of us did.

Dan Taberski: Paul Dichter is one of the six writers on Stranger Things, counting the Duffers. He's been on the show since the beginning and he's right. Starcourt Mall became a touchstone in Stranger Things Three, it's where we see Steve Harrington fall down more than a few notches in the Hawkins High hierarchy. It's where Eleven becomes more like herself and it's where we see some of the most heartbreaking moments of the season. I mean, the final chapter is actually called The Battle of Starcourt. So it's a pretty big deal.

Audio From ST: Starcourt Mall is one of the finest shopping facilities in America and beyond. So come on down and remember, Starcourt Mall has it all.

Dan Taberski: You might even say like Manhattan in Sex and the City, Starcourt mall became a character in the show. So we wanted to spend some time getting to know that character and there's a lot to get to know, but this is just the beginning.

Dan Taberski: Over the next three episodes, we are talking with the cast and crew of Stranger Things to dig into the why's and how's of season three. We are going to take that freight elevator miles and miles underneath Starcourt and find out how the Cold War got to Hawkins. We're going to spend quality time with the Mindflayer from the people who created him to the people he possessed, and we're going to reveal all the Easter eggs that line Starcourt Mall, like how one of the set designers put the Lost lottery numbers in the malls blueprints bet you didn't know that one and there's a lot more you're going to find out too.

Dan Taberski: I'm your host Dan Taberski. I'm a filmmaker, a director, a podcaster, and I'm a big fan of Stranger Things. So grab your walkie-talkies and pull up your leg warmers because this is behind the scenes of Stranger Things. Three, episode one, the Starcourt Mall.

Sadie Sink: I love the mall. It's so cool. I remember like the first time I stepped on that set, I was just in awe. It was like traveling back in time, basically.

Dan Taberski: You recognize that voice, right? It's Sadie Sink who plays Max Mayfield, aka the high-scoring arcade girl from season two. This season, she is El's BFF and Lucas's on again, off again girlfriend.

Sadie Sink: They pay such close attention to detail, every little detail, every store, inside every store, it's all been like 80-fied. Everything's 80s.

Dan Taberski: In fact, everything in the writer's room starts with the 1980s Paul and the writers, most of them were actually suburban mall rats in the eighties and nineties which was helpful when they were figuring out what would go inside Starcourt Mall.

Paul Dichter: We all sat around and we looked at, you know, we spent hours talking about what the stores would be and what the anchor stores would be and somebody would say, Sam Goody, and everybody would throw their arms up and triumph and tell seven Sam Goody stories.

Dan Taberski: One of the first things the writers do when brainstorming a season is make a pop culture calendar of whatever time they're going to be in. So for Stranger Things Three that's July, 1985. Careless Whisper by Wham was topping the charts, George Romero's Day of the Dead premiered, Coca-Cola launched New Coke, and shopping malls filled with national chains were taking over suburbia.
Audio From ST: You go ask anyone else in this town, they all love the mall.

Dan Taberski: Reliving all these 1985 events and all the stores they would've gone to back then. It snowballed into what could actually happen at that mall.

Paul Dichter: It was really fun and also kind of really fun from a storytelling perspective of, okay, so there's a Gap. What are we going to, what are we going to use? Are we going to use the mannequins? Is there a Jeep inside the mall? You know, or like a giveaway car. Like if there is, we'd be crazy not to do something with that car. It's sort of a great starting place for generating little kernels of ideas.

Matt Duffer: Like last year we'd had an arcade and it didn't really figure into the plot in a major way.

Dan Taberski: That's Matt Duffer again.

Matt Duffer: And we always regretted that because it was such a cool location when we saw it. And so we were like, we know that Chris, you know, our production designer and Jess our set dec. They're going to make this incredible, gorgeous mall, we got to make sure that we're going to be in there a lot so that the plot needs to somehow revolve around the mall.

Dan Taberski: So the writers started pulling from their own lives.

Paul Dichter: The mall near us really changed the fabric of the town that I grew up in.

Dan Taberski: Paul, the Duffers and the other writers, they knew that opening a mall in Hawkins would create stakes for the characters and the town because they watched it happen in their own suburban childhoods. Curtis Gwinn, a co-executive producer and new writer this season, he's still troubled by what a new mall and did to his town growing up.

Curtis Gwinn: You know, people used to have stores in their own towns and you couldn't do that anymore. I remember there was a, a woman who was my friend's mom and she had like a knitting store in town and when the mall went in and it had like Joann's Fabrics or whatever the hell it was, something with like knitting and stuff, it drove her out of business and just was like, no one went there anymore.

Dan Taberski: The writers knew that the typical 80s main street destroying mall would create new opportunities and motivations for their fictional characters. Like with business at Melvald's slowing to a crawl, Joyce would have a lot more free time to investigate whatever the hell was going on with her refrigerator magnets.

Audio From ST: And it fell in the night. It lost its magnetism.

Audio From ST: Oh did it?

Audio From ST: And the same exact thing happened at my house the day before.

Audio From ST: Wow.

Audio From ST: And I thought, okay, that's weird, right? Why are all these magnets suddenly losing their magnetism? So, I

Dan Taberski: Hawkins residents who care about preserving downtown would protest at town hall and give Mayor Kline a reason to call Hopper over there. And it would inspire Nancy to pitch a story to her sexist bosses at the Hawkins Post.

Audio From ST: I mean, I know everyone loves the mall, but how many small businesses have closed since it opened?

Dan Taberski: Look, crap on the mall all you want, Nancy. Starcourt still gave the writers a perfect front for the Russians, one of the two main storylines this season. And most importantly, the mall offered a level of seclusion that is absolutely necessary in order to keep Stranger Things believable.

Paul Dichter: It's a contained space so you can go into the mall after it's closed, you can lock the doors, you can hide in the stores, you can do all sorts of things that you might have a harder time doing in downtown. And a big part of that is the concern that we always have in the back of our minds, which is trying to keep these supernatural happenings in Hawkins sort of plausibly secret from the rest of the world.

Dan Taberski: And that became harder and harder with each season as the monsters got bigger and the action got crazier.

Paul Dichter: It very quickly felt like if you have a monster smashing through downtown Hawkins, people are going to see it and call the army and it's going to be on TV and that's going to be that and everything's going to change. Whereas you could conceivably go crazy in the mall and keep it contained inside the mall, which is a big part of the business of trying to tell this story in a believable way.

Dan Taberski: So Starcourt Mall really did have it all, but at this point it was still just words on a page. It was up to the art department to bring them all to life.

Chris Trujillo: I certainly appreciate the amount of effort that goes into the creation of a mall the way that I could never have before. I mean just each storefront is its own ordeal to design and fabricate. So yeah, I mean it's intense.

Dan Taberski: Chris Trujillo is the production designer on Stranger Things. He runs the art department, which quick filmmaking lesson, is responsible for designing and building all the sets. So basically everything physical that you see on the show. So when the Duffers decided, yeah, we want a mall, they texted Chris, the set decorator, Jess Royal.

Jess Royal: It's always exciting. And then there's always that feeling of like, oh shit.

Dan Taberski: And these guys.

Sean Brennan: I'm Sean Brennan, art director.

John Snow: John Snow, assistant art director.

Dan Taberski: An art department either builds sets in a studio space or on location, which really means just in a place that already exists. To give Starcourt Mall that sense of grandeur, to really crank up the scale of what could be done there. Chris and his team decided to film on location. After looking at a dozen or so shopping centers, they found Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb.

Dan Taberski: Gwinnett Place opened up in 1984 so architecturally it had exactly the right look. Plus it had a second story overlooking an atrium that just felt inherently dramatic and epic.

Dan Taberski: In one of the early meetings with mall security, Chris and Jeff spotted this scrapbook. The first couple of pages had a bunch of newspaper clippings, photos and stuff like that. And as they were flipping through, there was a picture that caught Jess's eye. It was one what of the atriums used to look like, there were big old planters and a food court lined with wood slotted benches and a huge fountain right in the middle.

Jess Royal: So we kind of like were like, you know this is really good and this is what someone saw for this mall. And that mall was built in 1984 anyway. So we were like, we should just like kind of own this concept and try to bring it back as close as we can to what it was originally.

Dan Taberski: Which as you can imagine is not easy. Starcourt Mall is like having 40 individual sets under one, not so monster proof roof. Chris and his team had to redesign the mall itself. They had to pick out carpet, they had to put in planters, but they also had to design all the stores in it. Almost every single store in Starcourt Mall was completely realized whether or not we ever saw our main characters go in them or not. Like the Gap, Love Lace Lingerie and of course Wicks 'N' Sticks.

Dan Taberski: I know what you're thinking right now. Wicks 'N' Sticks? They never go into a Wicks 'N' Sticks. You're right, they didn't, but it's there.

Jess Royal: It's one of those things where the Duffers were like, Whoa, like Jess, we should have written something for Wicks 'N' Sticks. And I was like, I know. Like it's not too late. So there were, there were talks of like Dustin going in and grabbing a candle as a weapon or something later, but it just never worked out.

Dan Taberski: Since Wicks 'N' Sticks was a real store that sold novelty candles Jess researched what it looked like in 1985 and then she filled it with shelves, a register, candles with tags, even though we never actually see any of the stuff in Stranger Things is all physically there.

Jess Royal: It just reached all the, it hit, my vision was realized in Wicks 'N' Sticks and it's such a weird store anyway, like Yankee Candle, but weirder, the wood and the color tones and like the macrame and just candles but all of like this candle like sculptured candles like they're like the, you know, the ribbons of wax and stuff and I had like someone make those in south Georgia for us.

Jess Royal: Who still does that? Who does that? I don't know. It's one of those weird things I find at estate sales that people never burn. They hold onto them and they get like dusty and gross. So like I was very familiar with the look, but to create a whole store of them was very special for me.

Dan Taberski: Almost every store you see in the background had to be researched, measured, mapped out on a computer architecture program, painted and filled with period appropriate furniture, framed advertisements and tagged products.

Dan Taberski: All the restaurants in the food court, they needed 1980s machinery and menu boards. It was a Herculean effort. And then thanks to Sean, John and the rest of the art department crew, they were ready to start filming.

Sean Brennan: Everybody was happy. Everybody was so thrilled with the mall. I remember going to my car sitting in the parking lot and literally almost crying. It was, because it was just so exhausting. I mean we were just go, go, go, go, go. And then finally knowing that we had made it was just like, fuck me.

John Snow: Yeah. We got back to the office after that first day. Remember that, when we opened the set, we got back to the offices and we were like just exhausted. Like we'd just run a marathon or something.

Sean Brennan: Yeah, it was 16 weeks of like extreme pressure and fear and worry and hoping that you got it right and we did, we got it right.

Audio From ST: You're late.

Audio From ST: I'm sorry.

Audio From ST: Again. We're gonna miss the opening!

Audio From ST: Yeah, if you guys keep whining about it! Let's go!

Audio From ST: If you guys keep whining about it, nyah nyah nyah.

Dan Taberski: Starcourt Mall is the perfect place for the Stranger Things gang to reunite.

Audio From ST: Yeah, real mature Lucas.

Audio From ST: Oh, El, I wish we could make out forever and never hang out with any of our friends.

Audio From ST: Lucas, stop.

Audio From ST: Will thinks it's funny.

Audio From ST: Because it is.

Audio From ST: Yeah. It's so funny that I want to spend romantic time with my girlfriend.

Audio From ST: I'm spending romantic time with my girlfriend...

Dan Taberski: We catch up with what's going on in their lives as they weave their way through the mall's second floor crowds on their way to sneak into George Romero's 1985 classic Day of the Dead.

Dan Taberski: Mike is spending a lot of time alone with El making out to Corey Hart songs. Lucas and Max are also dating, but they're still hanging out with everyone and Will, on the other hand, couldn't care less about any of their relationship shit. He just wants to play D and D.

Dan Taberski: Curtis and the writers, they intimately know the relationship between malls and teenagers.

Curtis Gwinn: Well, it's pulling, it's pulling them into new identities, right? Like you have literal trying on of new identities, which is very teen. I mean that is what you do, you know, and it's in the span of like three years, which seemed like forever to me back then.

Curtis Gwinn: I was like a nerdy kid who wore Weird Al Yankovic t-shirts and got picked on, to a classic rock, I wear Who t-shirts and torn pants.

Curtis Gwinn: Then as I got older and into the early 90s, became grunge and then I was like a Phish head hippie and then you know, it's like you're just trying on to see what suits you, which is actually really normal for kids to be doing. They're chameleon-like right? They're trying to figure out who they really are.

Curtis Gwinn: So I think they're at that stage where they're like, we got to try on different identities here. We can't be the same forever. And that's starting to dawn on them.

Dan Taberski: One of the major themes of this season is change. Change is scary. It's inevitable. It's extremely pubescent and Starcourt Mall is a big fat, physical manifestation of change, for Hawkins, but also for the kids, especially for someone like Eleven, she was raised completely isolated from society and now lives in a secluded cabin with the town sheriff. This is the first time in her life that she's able to shape and express her own identity and the writers do that by having El and Max go on a shopping spree.

Audio From ST: Do you like that?

Audio From ST: How do I know what I like?

Audio From ST: You just try things on until you find something that feels like you.

Audio From ST: Like me?

Audio From ST: Yeah. Not Hopper, not Mike. You.

Dan Taberski: For El this epic shopping spree with Max is a chance to exercise her independence and usher in a new transformation. A new change. It's the first time that she gets to find out what it means to look like herself.

Amy Parris: What would a girl who was, you know, so sheltered and living in a cabin wear when she gets out into the real world and gets to go to the mall and buy her own clothes?

Dan Taberski: Amy Parris was brought in as the costume designer for season three. At this point, the main characters have designated styles. So Amy's building off those and adjusting small details. But this is new territory for Eleven's character because she's no longer wearing basement hand me downs from Mike or Hopper. So Amy looked to the actress who plays her Millie Bobby Brown.

Amy Parris: She was the one that I felt like I relied on the most to tell me how she, because it's one thing if she was still playing Eleven you know, kind of sheltered in Hopper's cabin, never going out. So giving her those exaggerated silhouettes, the baggy pants, the blousy shirts, she looks more like somebody that is from the 80s and that is figuring out her clothes.

Dan Taberski: In this montage scene Eleven and Max are running around the mall. They're trying on bright neon colored tops and pleated pants at The Gap. Madonna's Material Girl blasts in the background. It is fully 1985.

Amy Parris: So we try on stuff and, and there were things that she didn't love and we used that in the montage. So the way she reacts to the clothing is sort of how she really felt about the clothes.

Dan Taberski: The scene is important cause we get to watch Eleven and Max bond for the first time. Before now they weren't close, they didn't really trust each other. But then they learned the lifelong lesson that there's more to life than stupid boys. But it's not just the kids from Hawkins who are shopping at Starcourt Mall. The creators knew that the mall would draw people in from the surrounding Indiana towns too. And Amy has to dress all of these mall rats.

Amy Parris: I think for the mall we probably fit well over 1500 people in period clothing.

Dan Taberski: On any given day, there would be around 300 extras when they were filming at the mall. And sometimes they're shooting multiple scenes that take place on different days and you can't have everyone wearing the same outfits over and over again. So Amy and her team needed multiple outfits for each extra almost every day they filmed at the mall.

Amy Parris: Not only are you dressing more than 300 people that are inside the mall, but then you have to uniform everybody that works at the mall.

Dan Taberski: So Amy and her team started researching what all these different fast food spots had their employees wearing back then. And then all of a sudden they are searching for 1980s Burger King uniforms on eBay and that's it.

Amy Parris: And people still sell them. So we were able to buy two full sets and a third shirt and then we made pants to match. So we had three original Burger King uniforms. We reached out to Hot Dog on a Stick because they were at the mall and they were in the food court and they were so excited to give us uniforms. In fact, they remade the shirts, they supplied us with the actual uniforms, which was really helpful and really nice.

Dan Taberski: To make the Hot Dog on a Stick employees and all the mall rats feel like they were taken straight out of a time machine, they had to be decked out in the right 1980s gear from their shoelaces to their hair.

Sarah Hindsgaul: I mean, all my hopes and dreams were lots of perms. You know, I just want, I mean the more perms we would have the better.

Dan Taberski: Sarah Hindsgaul is the head of the Stranger Things hair department. To figure out all the right dos to do, Sarah would watch 80s movies, she'd browse the internet and she would scroll through Instagram.

Sarah Hindsgaul: But also a lot of memory sense. I mean that is, I remember all the boys in my school, they all had rat tails and I remember even being like a little girl and I was like, oh, that's not okay. Like it's just not okay. So I was very insistent on some of these things that I just remember so vividly to get that on screen because I think it must be what most people took away from the 80s and I also think Stranger Things is just fun also. So we can just really go there with all this. We can pop it. It's summer time. It's happy. It should be big. It should be curly. It should be rat tails and it should be big bangs. You know everything.

Dan Taberski: So Sarah and her team went big. She estimates they gave 5,000 haircuts this season. They had 300 wigs, 20 Jheri Curls and 250 perms. And keep in mind that these aren't the beautiful beach wave perms you see nowadays. These are tightly wound astronomically large perms and they're called perms for a reason. They're essentially permanent for months. These extras have to live with them through their day to day life walking around Atlanta well after their one or two days of filming onset is over.

Dan Taberski: Thankfully or maybe deeply unfortunately, Eleven does not have a perm. Instead, her hair is slowly but surely growing out from that season one buzzcut. And as each season goes on, Sarah finds new ways to add to Eleven's character through her hair.

Sarah Hindsgaul: When she's with Hopper in the cabin, it's parted in the middle. When she leaves the house, she kind of, step it up a little more, but she tries to protect him. Don't you still, I felt like a lot like that with my father when I was that age, I would never have taken lipstick on in the house or remotely think that I was trying anything or I was trying to be sexy or cute or you know what I mean? Like, no, you don't want your parents to see that.

Sarah Hindsgaul: So she's very different when he is around and then we get into the mall and she's flipping her hair around and trying everything out. I love when they go in and take that little photo shoot. That was a fun day.

Dan Taberski: It was fun. Eleven can finally have fun. I mean this is the most stable life that she's lived. She's got Hopper, she's got a boyfriend, she's gone to the mall. She uses her powers to seek revenge on a group of judgmental teens by blasting a cup of Orange Julius all over them, which is way better than using your powers to kill a bunch of dudes. Being at Starcourt Mall with Max, we get to see El let her guard down. We get to see this super powerful but super normal teenage girl. And sometimes part of feeling like a normal girl means confusing the hell out of your boyfriend.

Audio From ST: What are you doing here?

Audio From ST: Shopping.

Audio From ST: This is her new style. What do you think?

Audio From ST: What's wrong with you? You know she's not allowed to be here.

Audio From ST: What is she? Your little pet?

Audio From ST: Yeah. Am I your pet?

Audio From ST: What? No.

Audio From ST: Why do you treat me like garbage?

Audio From ST: What?

Audio From ST: You said Nana was sick.

Audio From ST: She is. She is.

Dan Taberski: While the girls are shopping to establish their independence, Mike and Lucas have dragged Will to Starcourt Mall. They're on an apology shopping tour spearheaded by Lucas. He is the official girlfriend expert in the group.

Audio From ST: I really had no choice.

Audio From ST: I just wish you consulted me because the way you handled this, you're in deep shit.

Dan Taberski: Lucas's advice, find the perfect gift. They stare helplessly at Lovelace, the lingerie store. They spritz perfume in each other's eyes at the perfume counter and they get their hopes up at Zales.

Audio From ST: Excuse me sir. How much for this little teddy bear right here?

Dan Taberski: Until they find out that little gold teddy bear is $300.

Audio From ST: 300?!

Dan Taberski: The boys' shopping trip is a failure. They don't find anything for Eleven and right when they're leaving, they run into Max and El who is feeling empowered by her new tousled hair and neon jumper. She's sick of Mike's lies, so she dumps his ass.

Audio From ST: I dump your ass.

Dan Taberski: Mike and Lucas aren't the only boys having girl troubles on this season of Stranger Things.

Audio From ST: Ahoy, ladies! Didn't see you there. Would you guys like to set sail on this ocean of flavor with me? I'll be your captain, Steve Harrington.

Dan Taberski: Oh, man. When we first met Steve Harrington, he was the hot jock who knocked cameras out of nerds' hands, but after being heartbroken and beat up a few times, Steve's out of high school and his social status has plummeted. He is now working at an ice cream parlor called Scoops Ahoy.

Paul Dichter: I love Steve as a character.

Dan Taberski: This is Paul Dichter again, one of the writers.

Paul Dichter: It's been really fun watching him go through this transformation over the course of three seasons. I think when we started talking about Steve and season one, he was the jock jerk boyfriend. We thought of him as that trope, as that archetype of the asshole and I think seeing what Joe was doing with the part very quickly we kind of realized that we wanted to do more with him.

Dan Taberski: The Duffers and the writers had to figure out what to do with Steve this season and they had a lot of their own embarrassing teen job moments to inform Steve's downfall. Curtis, for example, worked at his mall's Arby's.

Curtis Gwinn: I was at Arby's. That is not cooler than Steve. That is lower on the chain. Believe me, my girlfriend was at Haagen-Dazs because the ice cream place was like in the sort of hierarchy of the food court, the ice cream place was much better. It was like Haagen-Dazs. It was like high end, like you know, all the Richie Riches would go there and get their pints.

Curtis Gwinn: You know, I was over at Arby's, which was like in our town was like, well, McDonald's is the elite. Arby's is some weird, what is this place, western? What? People couldn't understand it, roast beef sandwiches, what's going on over there? So I was definitely not cool. I couldn't get a job at the record store or at McDonald's or at Haagen-Dazs. They wouldn't hire me. When I came into Arby's, they're like, here's your apron. Here you go. Let's get to work.

Dan Taberski: They knew they wanted Steve to be scooping ice cream, but they weren't going to put him at a Haagen-Dazs. They wanted to create their own Captain Hook's Fish and Chips. That is where Judge Reinhold's character, Brad Hamilton works in the 1982 comedy classic Fast Times At Ridgemont High.

Dan Taberski: Stranger Things Three is dripping with Fast Times references, from the way Mrs. Wheeler gets out of the pool to comparing Susie to Phoebe Cates, but the biggest nod from the writers was to have Steve also work at a nautical themed restaurant.

Curtis Gwinn: The thing was we wanted it to be sort of demeaning for Steve and what I love about it, I love in any kind of movie or show when people have like essentially a uniform. You know, comic strip characters like I don't mean comic books, but comic strips. It's like they have a uniform and it's very, they become iconic. So to stick him in the sailor suit and he's in the sailor suit for the entire season essentially. I just love it. It just becomes like a, to me, an awesome Halloween costume right away.

Amy Parris: I got to tell you while we were, while we were filming, I went to Atlanta's Dragon Con and we were still filming season three, but somehow maybe the teaser had come out, but there was a guy dressed like Scoops Ahoy Steve and I went up to him and I was like, I made that!

Dan Taberski: This is Amy Parris again, the costume designer. Amy knew that the Scoops uniform had to be embarrassing but still kind of cute. I mean, it's Steve Harrington we're talking about, and it had to be something that Joe Keery and Maya Hawke, aka Steve and Robin could wear for almost the entire season.

Amy Parris: I relied on, you know, finding real images of sailors from the 1800s to the 1980s we started with two different hat options. You know, we've got the sort of white Dixie Cup hat that they're wearing, but I also offered a navy flat cap, which was sort of that flat pancake style that was navy from the 1800s and across the front for both of them we wrote ahoy, but Joe really liked the white Dixie Cup hat. The duffers liked it. And as much as I liked the nerdy blue flat pancake style, I think it was the right choice to go with the white because it was just a little, it was that step too nerdy and weird.

Amy Parris: And then what he's added to his uniform is an ice cream holster that is red fabric. It was Joe's idea and I thought it was a brilliant idea. So between props, Matt, Mark's props and I, we had our tailors make a little holster of red canvas fabric and it helps him to quickly grab his ice cream scooper out of his belt loops.

Dan Taberski: I'm not sure if keeping your ice cream scooper in a holster would pass Hawkins, Indiana health code, but in the words of Steve Harrington, as he tossed that Dixie Cup hat off his head, screw company policy, you wear that red ice cream scooper holster. Make it iconic.

Dan Taberski: But Scoops Ahoy plays a much bigger role than just a visual clue into Steve no longer being the cool kid. It's the center of the action for the other plot line. Dustin, Robin, Erica and Steve coming together to talk about how they're going to take down the Russians.

Dan Taberski: Since so much happens here, the art department had to build out the entire restaurant.

Sean Brennan: Scoops Ahoy was a fun one for us because it was a design and build from the ground up.

Dan Taberski: Sean, the art director, he loved working on Scoops from the vent in the back room to the booth that Dustin and Steve catch up at.

Audio From ST: So you really do get to eat as much of this as you want?

Audio From ST: Yeah, I mean, sure. It's not really a good idea for me though. You know, I gotta keep the shape for the ladies.

Audio From ST: Yeah. And how's that working out for you?

Audio From ST: Ignore her.

Audio From ST: She seems cool.

Audio From ST: She's not. So where are the other knuckleheads?

Dan Taberski: That booth that they're eating at? It looks like your average red vinyl booth. Right? But it's actually shaped like a boat.

Sean Brennan: The boat bow, you know, on the front side was the funnest part, you know? And that was a very fun little element and everybody thought we were crazy for doing it, but it looked awesome.

Dan Taberski: Unfortunately for Sean, the boat barely made it on screen, but you can see it when Steve Robin and Dustin close up shop after translating the Russian code. But that's about it.

Dan Taberski: These thoughtful choices, they add character and depth to the world building of Stranger Things. And it helps the actors go deeper into their roles. As an audience member, we might not notice these things, but they matter. And sometimes, if we pay close attention, they can even act as clues.

Audio From ST: Just speak louder.

Audio From ST: I intercepted a secret Russian communication, sheesh.

Audio From ST: Yeah. Okay. That's what I thought you said.

Dan Taberski: So in the third chapter, The Case of the Missing Lifeguard, Dustin and Steve suspect that something evil is afoot at Starcourt Mall.

Audio From ST: Evil Russian.

Dan Taberski: Equipped with binoculars and a sense of patriotic duty. Steve and Dustin follow a suspicious looking man they believe could be an evil Russian. They try to be sneaky, but the possible evil Russian senses their stares and turns around.

Audio From ST: Slow down.

Audio From ST: We're losing him.

Audio From ST: You're getting too close.

Audio From ST: Watch it dickwad!

Audio From ST: Hello? Yes, I am fine. How are you?

Dan Taberski: And then there, right there as Dustin and Steve are peering around that map of the mall, bring your attention to what's behind Dustin. Right above his shoulder. It's the window display at Waldenbooks, a popular bookstore in 1985 that closed in 2011. You can just make out the books in the window, their posters prominently featured. First one is Breaking with Moscow by Arkady Shevchenko. He was the highest ranking Soviet official to defect. That book was published, 1985. And the other book on display, you can't even see, Tom Clancy's debut novel, The Hunt For Red October, a classic 1984 Cold War tale.

Dan Taberski: And this backdrop to Steve and Dustin spying on a guy who they think is a Russian spy but actually turns out to be, my favorite twist, a jazzercise instructor, is in my opinion, one of the best clues of the season.

Dan Taberski: It's an Easter egg that lets us know that the fun bright poppy Starcourt Mall that we spent all this time getting to know is about to show us her dark Soviet underbelly And we're going to follow the Scoops Troop straight into the Cold War, next time on Behind the Scenes of Stranger Things Three.

Audio From ST: the Red Army has infiltrated Hawkins and if we are found they will torture and kill us.

Jess Royal: You just walk through all of these crazy huge warehouse hallways and you part this door and it's Russia.

Matt Duffer: I think. I mean we always talk about Empire Strikes Back. We always wanted like a darker ending. We wanted to give him like a Han Solo kind of a sacrifice moment.

Curtis Gwinn: The Death Star is how we referred to our underground Russian military facility that is deep under Hawkins.

Paul Dichter: They just keep pushing it a little too far, a little too far, you know to the point where uh oh, we're in an adventure now. Shit.

Dan Taberski: Behind the Scenes of Stranger Things Three is produced by Netflix and Pineapple Street Media. You can listen to this show on Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Google Play, Iheartradio, and wherever else you get podcasts, and I'm your host, Dan Taberski. Thanks for listening.