By the time Stranger Things season 4 parts 1 and 2 air (on May 27 and July 1, 2022, respectively) much of its young cast will be rapidly aging out of their characters, thanks to long delays. Of course, anytime a show deals with child or teenage characters, viewers know that said actors aging inconveniently fast may become a continuity problem. While Hollywood productions are usually tightly controlled, meticulously planned affairs, the natural aging of actors isn’t really something anyone can stop or postpone. This leads to situations in which formerly scrawny, nerdy kids now look like football players, and short kids are suddenly 6’2″.
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The aging factor already proved a problem that needed dealing with on the 2017/2019 duology of IT movie adaptations, as IT Chapter Two featured multiple flashback scenes of the Stephen King child group, the Losers’ Club, which brought back the actors from the first IT. People can grow a lot in two years though, and de-aging techniques along with camera tricks were used to try and make the differences unnoticeable. This strategy didn’t entirely succeed, but the effort was admirable.
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IT and IT Chapter Two featured Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier, a role he landed not too long after breaking out as Mike Wheeler on Stranger Things. He noticeably grew during that two-year span, and with Stranger Things season 4 set to premiere nearly three years after season 3, the makers will likely face the same problem with Wolfhard and his castmates, especially given that much less time has passed in Stranger Things’ story. Here’s how old the young actors will be by the time Stranger Things season 4 airs on May 27 and July 1, 2022.
Finn Wolfhard, also known for playing Richie Tozier in the aforementioned IT movies, will be 19 when Stranger Things season 4 airs its first part on May 27, 2022. As presented in Stranger Things season 3, Mike Wheeler is 14 years old. Depending on when Mike’s canonical birthday is, that’ll put the character at about 15 to Wolfhard’s 19, which is a significant gap that can make a huge difference in looks when one is still growing.
Millie Bobby Brown
Godzilla vs. Kong and Enola Homes’ Millie Bobby Brown, the biggest breakout star to emerge from the cast of Stranger Things, will be 18 years old when Stranger Things season 4 airs. Eleven is canonically 14 years old in season 3, the same age as Mike. So when season 4 airs, Brown will be 18 to her character’s 15 or so, a slightly lesser gap than Wolfhard’s.
Gaten Matarazzo plays fan-favorite Dustin in Stranger Things – whose girlfriend Suzie could be a Russian spy. Like Finn Wolfhard, Matarazzo will be 19 when season 4 airs on May 27 and July 1, 2022. Dustin is also 14 years old during season 3, making Matarazzo likewise 19 as opposed to about 15 for Stranger Things season 4. Since this will end up being the case for much of Stranger Things’ youngest group of cast members, it could make each individual actor’s visual difference less noticeable overall.
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Caleb McLaughlin, who plays Dustin’s best friend Lucas on Stranger Things, will be the oldest of the core four when Stranger Things season 4 airs, at 20 years old. Lucas is also 14 in season 3 and represents the largest age gap between character and actor of the quartet. For the most part, though, the smaller gaps between the core four characters and their actors could work out alright. This reflects a desire by Stranger Things creators, the Duffer Brothers, to not cast too far above their youngest roles, which has proven to be a smart decision.
Natalia Dyer plays Mike’s caring, resourceful, and surprisingly tough older sister Nancy Wheeler on Stranger Things, and will be 27 years old when season 4 airs on May 27 and July 1, 2022. Nancy was only 17 at the end of season 3, so if she’s turned 18 by the events of season 4, Dyer will be a whole nine years older than her character. While a significant age gap, this may not be as noticeable as those of the younger cast, especially when one considers that teenagers are sometimes played by people in their mid-30s.
Charlie Heaton plays Jonathan, the brooding older brother of the Upside Down’s first victim, Will Byers, and was a big part of the search for him during Stranger Things season 1. Heaton will be slightly older than his sometimes love interest Dyer, at 28-years-old when season 4 airs. Jonathan ended season 3 at 17, putting an 11-year gap between actor and character, one of the biggest among the younger cast members. In Heaton’s case though, he’s always looked a bit older than his character, so it may not be too jarring going forward.
Noah Schnapp plays Will Byers, friend to the core four and occasional inter-dimensional kidnapping victim. The youngest of the kids, Schnapp will be 17 when Stranger Things season 4 airs on May 27 and July 1, 2022. Since Will should be about 14-15 like his friends in Stranger Things season 4, Schnapp will be closely in line with his character, again reflecting the wisdom of not casting the kids with older actors.
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Fear Street star Sadie Sink, who recently earned praise for her work as outsider-turned-survivor Ziggy in the aforementioned horror trilogy, plays Max, younger sister of formerly awful – and formerly living – person Billy Hargrove, and love interest of Lucas. Although she does indeed look much younger, Sink will be 20 years old when Stranger Things season 4 airs, somewhat appropriately giving her the same age gap (about 5 years) from her character that Caleb McLaughlin has from Max’s boyfriend Lucas.
Joe Keery is probably the third-biggest breakout star of the Stranger Things cast after Millie Bobby Brown and Finn Wolfhard, playing a significant role in Ryan Reynolds’ feel-good comedy adventure, Free Guy. Thanks to potential Stranger Things season 4 victim Steve Harrington becoming a decent, likable person during season 2, Keery’s career has really taken off in recent years. If he had remained the huge jerk he was in most of season 1, things may have gone differently. He’s also easily the oldest of the actors behind the teenage Stranger Things characters, as he’ll be 30 years old when season 4 airs, as opposed to Steve’s 19.
Maya Hawke, daughter of Ethan Hawke and another recent – albeit quite brief – resident of Netflix’s Fear Street, quickly became a fan-favorite as Steve’s sarcastic but kind friend and coworker Robin during Stranger Things season 3. Hawke will be 23 years old when Stranger Things season 4 part 1 airs on May 27, 2022, and when part 2 drops on July 1. She’ll turn 24 just a week later on July 8, though. This ends up putting a relatively slight age gap between Hawke and Robin’s 17 or 18.
How Long After Season 3 Does Strangers Things Season 4 Take Place?
Although there were once rumors that Stranger Things season 4’s story would incorporate the real-life three-year gap since season 3, the “Welcome to California” teaser released in November of 2021 reveals the time jump to be much smaller. Just 185 days have passed since the end of Stranger Things season 3 and the beginning of season 4. Stranger Things season 3 wrapped up with the start of school in the fall of 1985, and season 4 is set at the start of spring break in 1986. While plenty may have happened between Stranger Things seasons 3 and 4, it’s only been six months, a much shorter time span than the 3 years since season 3’s release. This significant difference is the main reason that the big age gaps between the actors’ and characters’ ages exist.
Related: What Confirmed Stranger Things Season 4 Time Jump Means For The Show
How The Actors’ Ages Could Ruin Stranger Things Season 4’s Rumored Time Travel Element
The exacerbated actor/character age gaps in Stranger Things season 4 will be difficult enough to process on their own, but the real challenge will come if the story uses time travel, as many theories maintain. Any time jumps, whether due to time travel or even just flashbacks, will be jarring if the actors, who are already much older than their characters in the current timeline, also have to play versions that are a few years younger. Of course, de-aging technology continues to improve, which could work for Stranger Things season 4’s aging characters. This technique may not have been spot-on when used in IT Chapter Two, but it’s easy to imagine the Duffer Brothers finding a stylish, creative way to make it work. In any case, only the release of Stranger Things season 4 on May 27 and July 1, 2022, will tell if the age gaps between the cast and the characters are easy enough to overlook.
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Michael Kennedy is an avid movie and TV fan that’s been working for Screen Rant in various capacities since 2014. In that time, Michael has written over 2000 articles for the site, first working solely as a news writer, then later as a senior writer and associate news editor. Most recently, Michael helped launch Screen Rant’s new horror section, and is now the lead staff writer when it comes to all things frightening. A FL native, Michael is passionate about pop culture, and earned an AS degree in film production in 2012. He also loves both Marvel and DC movies, and wishes every superhero fan could just get along. When not writing, Michael enjoys going to concerts, taking in live professional wrestling, and debating pop culture. A long-term member of the Screen Rant family, Michael looks forward to continuing on creating new content for the site for many more years to come.
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