So, by now you’re also obsessed with the Netflix Original Series Stranger Things. Stranger Things is wildly popular with Gen X & Y due to its heavy dose of '80s movie nostalgia. It’s Goonies, ET, Stand by Me, and IT all wrapped into one glorious eight-episode series.
A key element of joy in Stranger Things is the delightful awkwardness of its child actors. Nancy is adorably delicate. Dustin boasts endearing cleidocranial dysplasia. Props to the Duffer bros for hiring non-supermodel-y, real kids. (However, although set in suburban Indiana, the racial diversity is significantly lacking.)
And then there’s Jonathan Byers, played by British actor Charlie Heaton. (I creepily tried to Facebook friend him, only to be denied. Thanks, Charlie.) Charlie has spurred a million “WHO DOES HE LOOK LIKE?” posts from the '80s kid contingent. It’s not simple. He looks like many of our childhood heartthrobs all rolled into one. Here are all the actors that the internets think Charlie Heaton looks like:
1. An exact combination of Leo & Johnny in 1993’s iconic What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? He has Leo’s almond eyes, but Johnny’s smoldering broodiness and long messy locks.
2. River Phoenix. Again, it’s in the eyes here. Also likely is Phoenix’s stalwart position as an '80s icon.
3. Edward Furlong. Who knew there were so many actors with delightfully squinty eyes and constant emo?
4. Bill Hader — a dark horse in the running, but Hader’s angular features do flicker in Jonathan Byer’s lighter moments.
5. A young Benicio del Toro, or as my friend Molly put it, Benicio’s ugly cousin. (It’s true that Heaton is winning the ugly-sexy game.)
6. “A really tired Jimmy Fallon,” suggests another friend. Again, we’re seeing a strong dose of eyes and eyebrows in this likeness.
7. Finally, Heaton also bears some resemblance to Allentown, PA darling Dane Dehaan (best known for HBO’s In Treatment and The Place Beyond the Pines).
Top photo: Stranger Things
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Melanie LaForce is the author of the funny-awesome book Corn-Fed: Cul-de-Sacs, Keg Stands, and Coming of Age in the Midwest. @rileycoyote.