Confessions From The Set Of Stranger Things

This story was originally published on December 7, 2016.
The following is an interview with Sarah Hindsgaul, a professional hairstylist who's worked in the entertainment industry for nearly 20 years. She just returned as lead hairstylist for the second season of Stranger Things. As told to Lexy Lebsack and edited for length and clarity.
Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Hindsgaul.
Something Strange Is Coming
"A year before I signed on for Stranger Things I had done Show Me A Hero with Winona Ryder. She called me and said 'I got this script, but I don’t know what I think. Do you want to come have a look? I think it looks amazing — but it’s television.’
"I think she was excited, but also intimidated by a new medium... So I went to her place and she had this really amazing lookbook and I was like, ‘What the hell is this?!’ Sometimes you get a lookbook or a script and it’s nothing like what you’re hoping, but here we actually got to create what they envisioned. Netflix gave us complete control; they never said no to anything. They just said, 'Go ahead, do whatever you dream about doing!'"
Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Hindsgaul.
Crafting The Characters
“It was a big challenge to do a show set in the '80s — there was a lot of up-front planning. Making sure that you’re in good standing with your actors is important. I started calling them and sending them pictures three months before the first season started filming so they had time to digest what was happening. Hair from the '80s can be a little shocking; it’s not the prettiest time period.
"Steve’s hair was, well, you know what it looked like. [Laughs] It was a proud project that happened there — big and blow-dried back with that kind of obnoxious piece hanging down. We spent a lot of time discussing what he should look like so he really rubs people the wrong way; to make him look like kind of a douche. But then you find out that he’s actually a really sweet guy. [Joe Keery] did such a great turnaround at being likable that he got invited back to be a series regular. I’m not sure that he was supposed to survive last year!

Hair from the '80s can be a little shocking; it’s not the prettiest time period...

"We colored Matthew Modine's [Dr. Martin Brennar's] hair completely white. It was really striking — so all the bad guys got very white or blond hair. We built that entire look around him.
"Winona’s hair was all her idea — she was very brave, I have to say. That is not a pretty cut, but she wanted it. She was very eager to go all-out, to not look like Winona Rider and really look like she lived in Hawkins, Indiana [in the '80s]. She found these images of Meryl Streep in Silkwood with a really mullet-y haircut, so we did something inspired by that."
The Buzz That Rocked The Internet
"The original plan was for [Milly Bobby Brown's hair] to be completely shaved off, but we [said no] and gave her a shade of hair. Something about being completely bald is very...aggressive. It’s children we’re dealing with, so we created a happy place, a safe place.
"Planning to cut it was hard and emotional, but by the time we did it, Millie had decided that it was the right thing to do. We started by cutting it to about two inches, so no one [went] into a panic. It took a couple of hours before we got it all the way down to the head. After, people would approach her in town and in airports and say ‘Oh, what a cute little boy!’ For months she was dealing with [that]."
Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Hindsgaul.
That $8,000 Wig
"After the show aired, we saw all of these viewers complaining online about how Millie’s wig was $8,000, but somehow was found in the basket in the boys' play room. Viewers were like, ‘How did she get such a nice, lace-front wig?’ or ‘There is no way this little girl can have such a nice wig!’ I was like ‘Goddamn it!!’ [Laughs]
"We tried over 250 cheap wigs on her head, and decided that there was no way this entire school was going to believe that it was her hair. So we came up with this entire backstory that Mike’s grandmother passed away from cancer and it was her wig.
"[On set] I would look around and it would be off and Millie would say, ‘It was scratchy!’ And I’m like, 'Yes, but where is it? We need it!’ and it would be hanging on a tree somewhere..."
Eleven Isn't The Only One With Fake Hair
"Charlie, who plays Jonathan, set his hair on fire [last year]. I got a text that said, ‘Hey Sarah, just a head’s up that I am so so sorry, but, uh uh, I caught my hair on fire at a New Year's Eve party in New York City.' He said [he] was in the bathroom washing his hands and there was a candle there and the whole front of his hair burned off! So when we started back up we had to put extensions in his hair every morning for three months. I was just glad he didn’t burn his scalp!"
Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Hindsgaul.
The Truth About That Reddit Rumor
"We all look at the rumors online — it's fun to see what people are writing. The big one so far for season two was a Reddit post that said there was an ad for extras [willing to] shave their heads, but that got blown out of proportion. We actually needed women who would be willing to cut their hair and get bangs, while all the male extras actually needed to grow their hair out. Some male extras have been growing out their hair for the past nine months.
"We find all our extras in Atlanta where we shoot. Last year it was really hard to get people to do anything, but this year a lot of people volunteered to have their hair cut off or to grow it out so we could give everyone the right haircuts." Season 2: The Hair Is Full Of Secrets
“This year it is very different — we start stepping more into the ‘80s, which is kind of amazing, visually. Last year was '83 and this year is '84, and they’re still in Hawkins, Indiana — but people are starting to realize there are perms and mullets, so we’re using a lot of wigs this year, because no one wants perms and mullets. [Laughs.]
"It’s been a fun step. All of the characters have developed. Nancy has kind of a big hair turn this year, too — they decided to do something drastic… That's all I can tell you."

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