This is how much the cast of Stranger Things makes
If you’ve never heard of the successful television series Stranger Things, chances are you’ve been living in an alternate dimension. Ever since Netflix made it available to stream across our screens in 2016, it’s found a permanent place in pop culture. As Variety noted, over 14 million people tuned in to see it during “its first 35 days on the streaming service,” making it one of Netflix’s most successful television shows of all time.
Most of the Stranger Things stars were only tweens when it started, and only a few were recognizable before the first season. The directors, the Duffer Brothers, had hardly any experience either. “No one had any idea how successful the show would be,” Natalia Dyer, who plays Nancy, told Independent.
Yet, the standout series quickly turned these kids into celebrities even faster than a demogorgon lumbering after its next victim. Many have even become movie stars during the show’s off-seasons, and over the span of the series, all have continued to rake in the dough. Here’s exactly how much the cast of Stranger Things makes.
Millie Bobby Brown is making a lot of money for her age
Before Stranger Things sent Millie Bobby Brown into stardom, it wasn’t easy for her to audition. “We did not have enough money for gas and so dad wouldn’t drive me in [to London] unless I knew every line,” she admitted to BBC News (via News18). However, she was so “desperate to be on camera” that the young actor took whatever she could in the spotlight. She secured guest spots on Grey’s Anatomy and Modern Family before a starring role on Stranger Things turned her life upside down — pun intended.
During Season 1, the 12-year-old star reportedly was paid somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter and Cable TV. With an eight-episode run, Brown raked in over $150,000 — more than enough to get her gas money for future auditions. Not like she ever needs to audition again, anyway. Everyone now knows Eleven.
With two Emmy nominations to her name, Brown makes even more money than before. Sources say it’s the very same amount that her co-star, two-time Oscar nominee Winona Ryder — who happens to be almost three times Brown’s age — made too. It all adds up to about $350,000 per episode, for a total of $2.8 million for the entire season. That doesn’t even include her bonuses either. Brown’s agent obviously knows what he’s doing!
Finn Wolfhard likes to donate his hard-earned money
Mike reportedly makes quite a bit less than his pal Eleven. According to The Hollywood Reporter and Cable TV, actor Finn Wolfhard went from making between $20,000 to $30,000 per episode the first two seasons to $250,000 per episode during Season 3. Not a bad raise. To put that into perspective, according to an October 2020 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median American salary clocks in somewhere around $50,000 a year.
“When I was younger I would ask, Why don’t they give big budget action movies to kids?” he told The Guardian. “Just give a seven-year-old an unlimited amount of money – do you know how insane that would be?” Well, in 2017, he earned himself some more dough starring in the horror film It. According to Box Office Mojo, the movie brought in more than $701 million dollars, and it was followed up by a hit sequel.
While many of us would never admit that we’d be spending our millions living out our childhood dreams, this teen actor turned musician has put his money to good use. “We have really affordable health-care in Canada but we have so many friends in the U.S. who don’t,” he told Coup de Main Magazine in 2017. “So I auctioned a signed guitar for Sweet Relief, which helps musicians in need.”
Noah Schnapp has millions of dollars and millions of fans
Even while Will was missing during much of Season 1, he was still reportedly making just as much as many of his young co-stars. In Season 1 of Stranger Things, actor Noah Schnapp reportedly made somewhere between $20,000 to $30,000 per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter and Cable TV. By the time Season 3 rolled around, he was reportedly raking in $250,000 per episode. With eight episodes total, he made $2 million for the latest season alone. Talk about a pay bump.
While the actor who plays Will was busy making his millions on Netflix, he started bringing in millions of followers online as well. In addition to a television star, he’s become a TikTok star. Crazy enough, a lot of his social media followers aren’t even familiar with the hit Netflix show. “It’s so weird to get recognized for [Tik Tok],” he told Variety. “I think it’s the really young fans who have never even heard of ‘Stranger Things.'” Sure, the third season of Stranger Things broke records as one of the most watched Netflix shows in its first week, but evidently, that doesn’t mean everyone watched it.
Even so, if you’re now headed over to TikTok to check him out, don’t expect to see any of his cast members making the move online anytime soon. “They appreciate my Tik Toks, but it’s not for them,” Schapp admitted.
Gaten Matarazzo uses his money for a good cause
Actor Gaten Matarazzo, who plays the red and white baseball cap-wearing Dustin on Stranger Things, was born with cleidocranial dysplasia, and he has opened up about how the rare condition has shaped his career. “That’s one of the biggest reasons why I haven’t been getting roles,” he said on an episode of The Doctors. “Mainly because of my lisp, the teeth situation, and my height.” He was on Broadway before, but was constantly told no when it came to television. “The people that work with me, they said, ‘Just wait. It’ll happen,'” he said, and it did. Sure enough, it did happen, and now he’s one of the stars of Stranger Things.
The Netflix series would certainly never be the same without Matarazzo. He was cast when he was only 14 years old, reportedly making between $20,000 and $30,000 per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter and Cable TV. By the third season, he was reportedly making $250,000 for each episode.
Now this Netflix star hopes to use his platform (and huge pocketbook) to bring awareness to cleidocranial dysplasia. “That’s really exciting to know that your work is affecting other people,” he said on Live with Kelly and Ryan.
Caleb McLaughlin went from Pride Rock to Hawkins
Before the phenomenon that is Stranger Things first aired, Caleb McLaughlin was on Broadway in the hit musical The Lion King. “My parents took me to see The Lion King two years before I got the job,” he told Neu Neu Media. “I just knew that I wanted to be Simba.”
McLaughlin almost passed on the Stranger Things audition entirely. As he recalled to Backstage, he’d tried out for “a whole bunch of series” before Stranger Things came along but “kept getting rejected.” But then, a change of heart happened. “I was about to tell my mom I didn’t want to audition for this, but then I was like, You know what? I’ll do it because this is what I wanna do. I wanna act,” he shared. McLaughlin was reportedly paid between $20,000 and $30,000 for each episode during the first seasons, according to The Hollywood Reporter and Cable TV. Now, he makes upwards of $250,000 per episode. Suffice to say, McLaughlin is raking in some serious cash as a teen star. Hakuna matata? More like hakuna make-money-ah!
Whether it be on a stage or a television set, it sure sounds like McLaughlin truly enjoys the art of acting. “I love to play Lucas,” he told Backstage. “Because when we started filming, I got to experience a different level of my acting, and it challenged me in a way.” The hefty paycheck that goes along with the role doesn’t seem so bad, either.
Sadie Sink's salary skyrocketed
When Lucas’ love interest Max made her debut in Season 2, she was, according to TMZ, making “a little over $23,000 per episode.” However, while actor Sadie Sink was earning a good chunk of change during her debut season, she still wasn’t nearly as recognizable as her colleagues quite yet. “Whenever I would go somewhere with them, they would get recognized, so that was a sneak peak of what I thought I’d experience when the show came out,” Sink told Interview Magazine after finishing up shooting her first season. “But it’s not as crazy as I thought it was going to be, it’s been fun and a good experience so far.”
However, when it was time for Season 3, TMZ reportedly obtained documents that revealed she only got a $1,000 per episode raise compared to her co-stars’ $200,000 raises. Luckily, a few months later, Cable TV reported that she was bringing in $150,000 per episode for Season 3. Though it’s still $100,000 shy of what many of the other stars made, the actor who plays Max still earned a ton of money. With eight episodes, it looks like she pocketed $1.2 million in the third season alone.
“Playing a strong, young woman on Stranger Things has been such an incredible experience,” she said during WE Day UN in 2019. She’s now a rich one, too!
Natalia Dyer doesn't enjoy the fame and fortune
Natalia Dyer was busy being a sophomore in college when she landed her starring role on Stranger Things. Before that, she had worked on various independent films and even scored a small part in Hannah Montana: The Movie. At first, Stranger Things did not feel like something that was guaranteed to be a big deal. “Nobody knew if it was going to get picked up again after we finished filming season one,” Dyer admitted to The Independent. “There was really an air of, ‘We might never see each other again.'”
Obviously, the sci-fi series quickly took off. By the time Season 3 came around, the actor who plays Nancy was reportedly earning somewhere in the range of $150,000 and $250,000 for each episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter and Cable TV.
Being thrust into super stardom “was a surprising and overwhelming shock,” Dyer admitted. Though her newfound fame isn’t something she’s really excited about — she admits she won’t stop for a photo even if a fan asks — she still feels pretty lucky to have lived out her dream. “I love the opportunities that it’s afforded me,” she told Elle. After all, now she can afford pretty much anything.
Joe Keery was 'waiting tables' before Stranger Things
Prior to securing his spot as Steve, “I was just waiting tables trying to get any acting job,” actor Joe Keery explained to Esquire. By Season 3, he was reportedly pocketing $150,000 per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter — not bad for his first big television role. Now, we could never imagine the successful series without him.
In fact, any fan isn’t able to think about Stranger Things without Steve — and his hair — coming to mind. The iconic ‘do was one that Keery had long before he ever stepped on set. Not everyone, however, was a fan of his hair. “For a long time, my dad was always on me about, you know, cutting my hair,” Keery admitted on Late Night with Seth Meyers. However, the Duffer Brothers seemed to be a fan. When they brought Keery on board, they even incorporated his luscious locks into Steve’s character.
While Keery has been busy making money, the Internet has been busy making memes about him. His hair is a hit, sure, but now he seems to be even more well-known as “the most protective mom.” Apparently, this is more or less the case behind-the-scenes too. Keery admitted to Access after Season 3 that he had been kicked out of his young co-stars’ group chat. “We’re too old for that,” he said, seated beside his co-star Maya Hawke, who plays Robin. “We got booted.”
David Harbour has made a killing
David Harbour — better known now as Hopper — had been appearing on our screens long before Stranger Things came along. “I’ve been an actor for a long time, appeared in movies and had a career where people would recognise me in Manhattan maybe once every two weeks,” he told Independent. “Now, walking down the street, people come up to me all the time.”
Harbour is one of the highest paid actors on the show. He reportedly started out making $80,000 per episode during the first two seasons, according to The Hollywood Reporter. During Season 3, he was pocketing $350,000 per episode, for a grand total of $2.8 million for eight of them. That doesn’t include any of his bonuses, either. “I’ve always had to work, like everyone, because I need money, I need a job,” he said. Because of Stranger Things, “now, I have opportunities to craft stories I want to tell, which is a whole new world for me.”
Funny enough, Harbour originally thought no one would ever watch the sci-fi series, and, as he recalled to the Independent, his character really wasn’t very likable at first. When Stranger Things first premiered, he read over and over that viewers hated Hopper. That did not last long. “By episode four, they were like, ‘If Chief Hopper dies I’m suing Netflix,'” he said. Imagine what they were all thinking when they finished watching Season 3.
Winona Ryder is one of the wealthiest Stranger Things stars
Winona Ryder is one of the few actors on Stranger Things who was even alive during the decade the show takes place in. The ’80s were a special time for her too. It was when she began acting, after all.
Not unlike her young co-stars on the Netflix series, the actor who plays Joyce Byers grew up on screen herself. When she was only a teen, Ryder booked her first major role in a movie. She explained to Interview Magazine that her family “didn’t have any money” at that time. Fast forward three decades, and Stranger Things apparently paid Ryder $100,000 per episode for the first season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She made way more than the rest because, unlike the young cast, she was the only recognizable face in the pilot, having starred in huge films like Beetlejuice and Heathers. By Season 3, Ryder was reportedly making $350,000 per episode. Money doesn’t seem to be something she will ever run out of again.
Surprisingly, this Oscar nominee never thought she would ever end up on screen. “The fact that I got into this at all was kind of fluke-ish,” she admitted. “I loved movies, but I can’t remember ever really wanting to be an actress.”
Charlie Heaton has made more than just money
When actor Charlie Heaton first stepped foot on the set of Hawkins, Indiana, he never predicted the impact it would have on the world. “I remember when we were filming season one, wondering if anyone was going to watch this show,” he admitted to Another Man. When they were done shooting, the actor who plays Jonathan went on his way and started working on another movie in Spain. When he was approached by someone who recognized him, he was shocked. “And that’s when it hit me: this show is being watched by people all over the world,” he told the outlet.
By Season 3, Stranger Things had become the most popular streaming show in the world (via Observer). Heaton was reportedly making somewhere between $150,000 and $250,000 per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter and Cable TV.
Millions of dollars and fame aren’t the only things he’s gained from the successful series. Since 2016, Heaton has been dating Natalia Dyer, who just so happens to play his love interest on the show. However, he apparently thinks there’s a better character out there for Dyer’s character. “I’m actually probably more Team Steve,” he admitted to Radio Times after shooting Season 2.
Dacre Montgomery's hard-earned Billys, er, bills
The breakout star of the third season of Stranger Things was obviously the Mind Flayer, and wow, did it do some damage when it possessed Billy Hargrove; the resident bad boy of Hawkins sure did draw the short straw. Though being possessed didn’t have many perks for ol’ Billy, the pay, however, wasn’t so bad.
Actor Dacre Montgomery reportedly raked in $150,000 per episode, according to Cable TV. And as for his Season 4 salary? Well, that is a gigantic question mark, because — spoiler alert — it seems like Billy was killed off in the Season 3 finale. That said, it’s probably wise not to rule him out just yet. As Montgomery told JoBlo.com in September 2020, “You know, the ending is not always definitive, especially in television so we’ll see where that goes.”
Acting is but one of Montgomery’s passions. “I finished an interior design internship a year and a half ago,” he revealed to Independent once Season 3 ended. “I love food, and my girlfriend comes from an architecture background, so we might open up a restaurant.” Here’s to hoping that his food is as rich in flavor as his Stranger Things’ paychecks have been.
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