'Stranger Things' Director Shawn Levy on How He Plans to Lose His "Comic-Con Virginity"

Even going to the Oscars for 'Arrival' might not top the excitement of San Diego: "I have been told to hydrate and sleep when you can."
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images (Levy); Courtesy of Netflix (Still)

2017 was a year of firsts for director-producer Shawn Levy — from his first Oscar nomination for Arrival to a first Emmy nom for Netflix's Stranger Things. Levy will soon embark on another (and arguably his biggest) first... his first San Diego Comic-Con. Levy talked to The Hollywood Reporter about what he's expecting from Hall H ahead of Saturday's Stranger Things panel.

I have been told to hydrate and sleep when you can. But, I think, the worst peril that we are gonna face is getting sick of the sound of our own voices.

Comic-Con is the epicenter of passionate fandom and I think it’s why one hears tales of such madness. But also when something catches a wave at Comic-Con, the surge towards the middle of the culture can be really powerful. I remember when the Deadpool footage showed it became clear that you can ride a Comic-Con wave from genre specific towards much more of a zeitgeist-y conversation.

Since I am a Comic-Con first timer, I need to lose my Comic-Con virginity just by walking the floor and taking it all in, in it’s full overwhelming glory. I am planning on doing a solo tour of the floor without our actors to have a chance at anonymity. The first thing [Stranger Things creators] the Duffers and I talked about was that Steven [Spielberg] would be there showing Ready Player One and we were trying to figure out whether our schedules would let us sneak us in to catch that. That was the very first conversation we had about Comic-Con. 

It’s actually somewhat rare that all of us get together in the same space at the same time — it’s usually two or three or five actors. We are going with, what I am told, might be the biggest panel in all of Comic-Con. 

Having gone to a bunch of awards shows with our actors, what amazes me is our kids are a magnet, not only for fans, but to other creatives and producers and actors. I saw it at the Golden Globes and at the SAG Awards. So moving through Comic-Con towards Hall H with our cast will be a pretty big challenge. [If there's advice] from people who have been a part of shows and movies that are at the scale that Stranger Things has now achieved, it’s that we need to keep moving because if you stop you will be doing signings for hours. It’s like a shark. You have to keep moving forward or you die.  

For me, every time I do an event or panel with Stranger Things and I am in the room with the passion for our show, when I am confronted by how much people adore what we’re making, it’s completely overwhelming. That’s what I’m genuinely excited about.

Between Arrival and Stranger Things, making content these years that has connected with fans who are so vocal is something that is new to me. The Oscars were fun and the Golden Globes are exciting, but I think Comic-Con is going to be equally fun and exciting. With Stranger Things, more than anything I have ever done, I just worked on it because I thought it would be cool. A year ago, we were this little show that it looked like no one was gonna pay attention to, so it is insane what a ride this past year has been. We didn’t do the show because we thought it would be a hit, but we have been rewarded with something that merits a Hall H appearance. 

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Netflix's Stranger Things panel is Saturday, 3-4 p.m. in Hall H.

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