Written mainly by Frederic with some additional content by Sean
This was a surprise appearance, to say the least! Only a few days prior to the Montreal Comiccon actually happening, it was announced that two of the stars of the latest season of Stranger Things would be in Montreal. Indeed, young Mason Dye, who plays Jason, and Grace Van Dien, who plays Vecna’s first victim, Chrissy, came by to say hi and answer questions from the fans following the finale of the fourth season, which is perhaps the king of the binge-watch on Netflix to this day!
Although we could feel that the two stars didn’t have a ton of things to say, as this was surely new for them and their characters had minor parts in the latest season, we learned a few interesting things about the inspiration for their respective role. It still feels a little unreal for them to be implicated in perhaps the biggest TV series of a generation, and they are incredibly grateful. There was huge confidentiality surrounding the Stranger Things script, so the young actors had some difficulties having access to the script early on (especially Grace).
Yes, small roles, but big impact in an overall packed season!
*SPOILER ALERT – We will get into spoilers for Stranger Things – Season 4 (both Part I and II).
Chrissy Defied the Stereotype Of the Mean Cheerleader
Grace was all smiles and super excited to be on stage to discuss the series. Seriously, she’s just like Chrissy. Although Chrissy’s part in Season 4 is actually pretty small (she died in the very first episode), the impact she had on the subsequent episodes was pretty strong. As she put it, she did hang around with the other stars after she ‘wrapped’, mainly hanging out with Mason and their co-star Joseph Quinn, who will be immortalized forever as the kickass metalhead Eddie from season 4 of Stranger Things. The panel host remembered her that the hashtag #ChrissyWakeUp is now trending for a month on Tiktok, confirming that Vecna’s first murder was so memorable and scary, that fans were so engaged.
Interestingly enough, the first time we see Chrissy, we easily think she is the typical ‘mean’ and ‘bitchy’ cheerleader that comes from a rich privileged family. Although the family portion is true, Chrissy is actually a kind and gentle soul. The Duffer Brothers (writers and directors of the series) asked her to defy expectations, which she did, by giving us a sweet and kind individual that breaks away from the status quo on screen. We deeply care for Chrissy and her troubled family background, making her demise shocking after only one episode. She is the only one of the two actors to see Vecna (actor Jamie Campbell in full prosthetics), but she made everyone laugh when she revealed that the scene in the bathroom implicated mean-looking sneakers from a crew member to stand in for Vecna’s feet to be added in post-production.
Also, there was a romance that never happened, but we actually wanted it. Chrissy is dating Jason, which makes sense (the popular basketball player dating the pretty cheerleader), but we sense that she is not completely invested in their relationship. As Vecna starts to traumatize her, she is on the hunt for drugs to help her flee these hallucinations, so she crosses paths with Stranger Things newcomer and now Master of Puppets legend Eddie. Although their styles and background are completely different, we sense there’s mutual attraction…right before Vecna strikes and kills Chrissy in Eddie’s mobile home. Sad.
The Dark Side of Jason Was a Mix of Tom Cruise and Christian Preachers
Mason Dye’s presence on stage was actually quite funny, as he had ‘Harrison Ford vibes’ to him in his inability to understand fan theories and common jargon from the audience. At one point, a fan dropped the word ‘canon’ to him, and he needed to ask Grace what the word meant, to which she proceeded to explain to him for around thirty seconds while covering her mic (yours truly admired Mason on the spot for that). Although in his late 20s, he looked like he definitely sees acting as a profession and not as a path to be a celebrity.
Mason’s role in Stranger Things was actually quite bigger, as he became the main human antagonist of season 4 following the death of Chrissy. As Vecna is terrorizing teenagers from the Upside-Down, Jason is the angry kid who is trying to harm our heroes in the real world. Mason also reveals that he never saw Grace before shooting the scenes where he actually cries learning about her death, he was so glad to officially meet her after for a better spiritual connection. That is the moment where his character completely derails and becomes the main villain alongside Vecna.
His biggest scene, which both Mason and the fans referred to a lot during the Q&A, is when he shows up at a town hall meeting in Hawkins in order to recruit followers to his cause in order to hunt down the Hellfire Club and its members (including Eddie and Dustin). He had good energy and rhetorical skills, definitely pointing out to research on how to play a young politician. A fan asked him if he watched YouTube videos of cult leaders in order to inspire Jason’s turn to the dark side, to which he replied that he actually watched a lot of preachers and evangelists giving passionate and fearsome speeches to their flock. The toughest part about Jason is that all his actions are based on heightened emotions and poor information. If Jason were able to understand what was really going on, he likely would have wanted to help, Mason cited. But he has a thick skull and had his blinders on and fell down the rabbit hole of grief and hatred.
To master the perfect ‘pretty boy’ and jock vibe of the 1980s, the Duffer Brothers wanted him to study Tom Cruise’s early work in Risky Business (1983) and Top Gun (1986). Although a pretty face, Mason made Jason quite threatening in the end, so we definitely loved to hate him. His demise in the very last episode is legendary but we also learned that his death was actually foreshadowed in an earlier episode. The Duffers actually went back to an earlier episode in the season and re-wrote a line of dialogue for Jason, in which he tells Lucas that he’d be “split in half, Sinclair”, in a nod towards Jason’s own demise after fighting Lucas in Vecna’s house. Classic Duffer Brothers!
The duo touched based on how it was like working through the pandemic. They actually started production of Stranger Things Season 4 right before the pandemic was declared in early 2020 and the Duffer Brothers and Netflix opted not to reshoot those scenes when production resumed. That means that for a few scenes in episodes three and four, the kids actually look a little bit younger and it’s apparently noticeable when you know to look for it. Mason even commented that his hair randomly changes between shots, indicating the passage of time on set.
Overall, this was a nice surprise for Comiccon fans. Considering that Stranger Things is perhaps the biggest Netflix show in the world at this point, it is quite a treat to have two cast members in Montreal for the occasion. Both actors said that the most awesome thing about the series was definitely ‘the people involved’, they seemed to have tremendous fun on set with all the other actors. If both Jason and Chrissy lived longer, both actors believed there would have been a chance at redemption for their characters.
But hey…still one more season left, who knows what can happen!