Encounters: Finn Wolfhard, the Young Star of ‘Stranger Things,’ Shops for Vinyl


Luckily, acting did work out. Finn is a star of “It,” the horror film based on the Stephen King novel, though fans probably know him better as the geeky demon chaser in the hit Netflix show “Stranger Things.”

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Finn started playing the bass guitar at age 7, and now plays in a garage rock quartet called Calpurnia.

Credit
George Etheredge for The New York Times

Finn, who is from Vancouver, British Columbia, was in New York several weeks ago to promote his new projects, but had recently started buying vinyl, so he made a detour to Rough Trade.

Dressed in a long olive-green button-down shirt, black skinny jeans and squeaky new Adidases, he bounced around the store like a messenger weaving through heavy traffic. He came across the album “Loveless” by the British rock group My Bloody Valentine, whom he had never heard before. He was also unfamiliar with the genre it was filed under: Indie-Rock/Shoegaze.

“What does that even mean?” Finn said. A reporter informed him that “shoegaze” refers to bands known to stand still and stare at their shoes on stage. Their popularity peaked two decades ago. “So, are they dad rock?” he said.

“I usually listen to a band called Twin Peaks,” Finn said, referring to a Chicago-based band and fingering its latest album, “Down in Heaven.” A few months earlier, Calpurnia had covered the Twin Peaks song “Wanted You” and posted it on YouTube.

After that, Finn became friendly with one of the band’s vocalists, Cadien Lake James. When he told Mr. James that he was going to buy the band’s album, the singer replied, “No, just illegally download it. If you want to buy it, buy the vinyl.”

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Finn outside Rough Trade NYC.

Credit
George Etheredge for The New York Times

“So I guess I’ll get it,” Finn said.

Calpurnia covers Twin Peaks Video by Calpurnia Official

He also picked up Mac DeMarco’s album “This Old Dog.” “He’s so funny,” Finn said of Mr. DeMarco, a fellow Canadian. In May, while Mr. DeMarco was touring in Atlanta, where parts of “Stranger Things” are filmed, he invited Finn onstage to play guitar.

Shopping for records was a welcome change of pace, said Finn, who had spent the previous week in San Diego at Comic-Con, doing back-to-back interviews as part of a promotional tour for “Stranger Things,” which returns Oct. 27.

The reporters, he said, asked a lot of the same questions: whether the young cast of “Stranger Things” are friends offscreen (they are); whether he is dating Millie Bobby Brown, his 13-year-old co-star (he’s not); whether he knew how popular the show would become (he did).

“It was maybe the best script I’d ever read,” he said of the pilot, which centered on the disappearance of a child under mysterious circumstances in small-town Indiana and involved supernatural beings and secret government experiments. “After I read it, I was like, ‘This show is the best,’” he said. “I’d never seen anything like it.”

Finn’s acting career began at 9, when he would answer Craigslist ads for freelance acting gigs. “I see how that can sound sketchy,” he said with a laugh. After a few years, his father hired an agent. “And then I started doing little stuff.”

His agent sent over the “Stranger Things” script and “I was immediately interested,” Finn said. “I didn’t really care what character I got.”

“Stranger Things” has given him a fan base (“I started getting flooded with Instagram followers”; he currently has 2 million) and acting roles including Carmen’s sidekick in Netflix’s animated series “Carmen Sandiego,” set for release in 2019.

As he was getting ready to check out, an Argentine customer named Florence asked him for a selfie. She was wearing a “Stranger Things” baseball cap and said she owned “all the mugs and T-shirts and action figures” from the show.

“Totally not planted,” said Mr. Geiser, the publicist. “What are the odds?”

After purchasing three vinyl albums, including the “Baby Driver” soundtrack (“My favorite movie of the year”), Finn left the store. A black chauffeured Lincoln S.U.V. awaited to take him to Central Park.

“Do you know a band called Swmrs?” he asked. The band, from Oakland, Calif., was playing a show in the park that evening at SummerStage, and had invited him onstage to play a solo on their song “Drive North.”

“It’s like the best feeling ever,” he said. “You’re completely exposed.”

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