Warning: The following post contains spoilers from Stranger Things 2.
Episode 8 of Stranger Things 2 is a thrilling homage to Jurassic Park with several of the characters trapped in Hawkins lab, surrounded by “demo-dogs.”
Eventually, good guy Bob (Sean Astin) reboots the power and unlocks all the doors but is ultimately eaten by a pack of the creatures just feet from the exit door.
“Bob was always intended to die, but we fell in love with Sean and what he was doing with this character,” says Ross Duffer. “He was supposed to die in like episode 4 and we just kept keeping him alive because he was so great and what he added to the show. Once we got to 8, we were like, we either got to do this or not do this. But I think it was important in terms of the stakes of the show. This is not a kids show and there are consequences and people do die. But we are sad to lose him because he really just blew us away.”
And there might be hope for Bob… somehow. “I have some Bob ideas but I don’t know what to do with him,” says Matt Duffer. “I will say I would love to revisit the character of Bob in some way but I don’t know how to even do that.”
EW talked with Astin about the terrifying death scene and the heroic quest of Bob.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you know Bob was going to die from the start?
SEAN ASTIN: I had a sense, but they told me they hadn’t made a final decision on it, so we would see what happens. That may have been them keeping it close to the vest. I definitely had a sense that he was certainly in jeopardy.
They said he was going to die earlier but they kept delaying it because they loved you so much.
That I knew! That I knew! Don’t get me wrong: I was certainly lobbying for good old Bob to hang around. I didn’t just show up to meet these kids and get out of there! I wanted to be part of it.
The whole sequence in the lab is very Jurassic Park. Did the Duffer Brothers make it clear to you all they were paying homage to that?
Well, you couldn’t help but feel that. And then, also, you’ve got Paul Reiser from Aliens in my ear telling me to do stuff. I just changed my Twitter description of myself. I put “I guess I’m meta.”
The brothers just love that moment in their storytelling process where they can build suspense and they can scare the audience. So I was just loving being the main guy for the day. The sequence with the dogs bursting through the door and screaming on the ground and [Winona Ryder] seeing me get eaten took a long time and was exhausting for everybody. But it also felt really heroic. That was basically all I said to them on the first episode when I was on set. They were like, “Oh man it’s so great. Winona and you get on together so well.” You could see them thinking about it. I was like, “I don’t care if Bob dies, but if I could do something heroic, I would love that. Just anything heroic.” No justice required for Bob.
It was such a physical scene. You’re running everywhere. How was that to film?
Well, I’m pretty thick, physically, in this show. But I’m actually a marathon runner and I did the Iron Man Kona the year before last. So, when it came time to do the running things, I was always pushing the envelope. I physically ran up and down those hallways like 150 times. I kinda actually pulled a hamstring at the end of it, just like a light pull.
They had one of the writers who’s like 4’10” or 4’11” and weighs 100 pounds. She jumped on me and I had all the dots all over me for the computer-generated stuff. She’s grabbing me so when she pulls the scrubs and is shaking me, that does something to the costume. The weight of her on top of me pushes blood into your face even more. Then, because she’s small, they can still see me and they can paint her out and put the dogs in. It took a long time with the blood squirting out and everything. It was a really powerful, fun, intense, dramatic sequence that any actor would kill to be a part of, so I was pretty happy to be part of that.
Your death scene was really gruesome.
My thing was, I wanted more! We did a slow-mo take. I got kind of a standing ovation on set. I don’t think they used the take, but your chest goes up and your head goes back and blood just kind of spurts out. They were like, “It’s too much!” I was like, “It’s not too much! It needs to be more more more!” I saw a version of it a month ago and I think they made some little adjustments after.
Winona was so upset. She was so upset! She didn’t want my character to die. She was like, “Can he keep going on?” And they were like, “No.” When she showed up, she was just so not happy about the death scene and doing the death scene. So when the blood was spurting out, she was like, “It’s too much! It’s too much!” I’m like, “It’s not enough! It’s not enough!”
To me, the thought completed itself. Bob wanted to provide for her and so he rescued her and saved her life. It’s a satisfying end for me.