Finn Wolfhard quickly became one of Hollywood's biggest breakout stars thanks to his roles as Mike Wheeler in Netflix's Stranger Things, as well as his upcoming appearance as Richie Tozier in It (check out the latest trailer) and the Carmen Sandiego animated series. The actor is now lending his talents to the inaugural "Strange 80s" benefit concert, where he will be hosting and performing with his band Calpurnia.
The show (organized by the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund) takes place at Los Angeles' Fonda Theater on May 14. Deap Vally, Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go's, Tenacious D, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Sarah Silverman and more are set to perform. Prior to the big event, Wolfhard spoke with Fuse about partaking in the benefit, his love for '80s and '90s music (one of his favorite band is Nirvana) and his experience on the It set. Read our chat below.
FUSE: Why was it so important for you to be a part of the "Strange 80s" benefit?
Finn Wolfhard: For anyone concerned about musicians and health care costs, I mean, this is a no brainer.
What can we expect from your performance with your band Calpurnia?
You can get a taste on my YouTube channel but we’re going to do three songs on the 14th, all 80s stuff. Three of us have been playing together for a while and we love playing together and I think it will show on stage. Also move back a few feet when we start because [guitarist] Ayla will melt your face off.
Who are you most excited to see perform at the benefit? I would personally be amped for Jane Wieldin of The Go-Go’s and Taking Back Sunday!
We are huge Tenacious D fans at my house, but I have never been able to see them live, so this is a dream come true. And there are so many more artists playing—it’s crazy.
How did working on Stranger Things help you learn more about ‘80s music?
I had already been into Joy Division but during Stranger Things I got into New Order more, and although my parents had all the Clash albums I had never really listened to them much either.
Did your parents or brother Nick help spark your love for 80s and 90s music?
Yeah my parents are into music of all kinds and my brother is deep into Anime and game scores, so there are a lot of different influences in our house. The funny thing is that a lot of the bands from the 80s that they love...let’s just say there are other bands that I am into from that era but that I would have never discovered them without being inspired by the bands that my parents introduced me to.
How will season 2 of Stranger Things differ from the first? Can we expect the storylines to go a bit darker?
Well, I really can’t say much, except you will have to wait and see. I will say yes to the second question, but I guarantee if you liked Season 1 you will love every minute of Season 2.
Since themes in Stranger Things and It get compared often, was it natural or more of a challenge for you to take on the role of Richie Tozier in the It remake?
Ok, so I had actually been hired to do It before Stranger Things—this was when Cary Fukunaga was going to direct and then pulled out. From there I got Stranger Things and then, when It came back with Andy Muschietti directing, I got the opportunity to audition again. It was a challenge in that Richie and Mike are completely different characters, but our version of It. And it's not a remake, by the way, it’s the first feature adaptation of the Loser’s part of the novel. Unlike Mr. King’s novel, which is set in the 1950s, our version is set in the 1980s, like Stranger Things. So the cultural and political background is similar and maybe that makes it less challenging to play the two roles at a subconscious level. But Mike and Richie are just guys that I am pretending to be, with who I also have a lot in common personally, so that makes the whole process natural, too. If any of that makes sense.
If you could create your perfect dream band with any artist, living or dead, who would you choose and what role in the band would they have?
I think the best bands are always greater than the sum of their parts. So my band would be made of that thing that makes the Beatles, Nirvana and Led Zeppelin what they are and always will be.
We've seen you in music videos for PUP and you recently raised money to direct a video for Playdate. So what's the biggest difference being behind the screen as a video director rather than being in front of it?
I’m about to find out! We shoot in June but in the meantime we have been doing prep and hiring people and doing shot lists and casting. But yeah, so far there’s a lot more than just show up and stand in front of a camera. My manager Ryan has been doing a lot as a producer and my co-director Josh Ovalle gets huge credit, too, because he’s been finishing his first year of film school at the same time and pulling in people he trusts. Our DOP is amazing, our cast will blow minds, and the band just polished its recording. We’re really excited to shoot and we would not have had this opportunity without the support of the people who are generously funding the project. Big ups to every one of them.
I know you’re a big Nintendo fan, but did you hear they are discontinuing the NES Classic edition? I hope you got your hands on one!
That’s funny because the NES Classic was the first console I got when I started collecting Nintendo. When I was 8, my dad and I looked on Craigslist and we found the console and controllers and a working zapper for Duck Hunt, plus almost every game ever made. Some guy was selling all his stuff because he was going to go traveling. It was such an amazing deal because everything was mint and altogether it was only $35 Canadian! And when we got outside my dad said we had to hurry because he thought we might have just committed a robbery.
The "Strange 80s" concert will also feature performances by members of OK Go, Taking Back Sunday, Velvet Revolver, Steel Panther, Filter, Anberlin, Goldfinger, Sugarcult, Anthrax, Precious Kid, Filter, and Honey Honey. 13 Reasons Why star Dylan Minnette, Braeden Lemasters, Hayley Orrantia (The Goldbergs) and Chelsea Telmadge (Stranger Things) plan to attend as well. Click here for ticket information.
Look out for Finn Wolfhard's performance in IT on Sept. 8 and the Netflix premiere of Stranger Things Season 2 this Halloween (how fitting!). Next up, check out actor/filmmaker Rider Strong break down his five favorite horror movies for Fuse: