Lucky for us, Joe Keery wasn’t a very good high school student.
“I think I had a C average,” says the likable 24-year-old, better known as complicated dreamboat Steve Harrington in Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things, which is filmed in and around Atlanta. “I just chose to focus on theater instead.” During his senior year, the Massachusetts native applied to Chicago’s DePaul University on a whim. Keery found his niche in the theater department, and he appeared in shows including Empire and Chicago Fire. But it’s his work as Stranger Things’ impeccably coiffed hero that gave him his big break.
“I could kind of sympathize with him, even though there’s a scene where he’s sort of a bully,” he says. “I thought it was a really interesting project—I instantly got what they were going for. I loved the aesthetic right away.”
The actor is certainly no stranger to Atlanta—which stands in for the show’s fictional setting of Hawkins, Ind.—after filming in the area since fall 2015. Keery has posted photos on his Instagram account of hot spots including The Fox Theatre, Sweetwater Creek State Park and the BeltLine, and we imagine there will be more to come now that production on season two has officially gotten underway.
Keery—who also plays guitar and drums for the psych-rock band Post Animal—was most recently seen in horror movie The Charnel House, which premiered last month and was filmed in Cleveland earlier this year. The humble Keery even took a Megabus there: “It was definitely a bumpy ride,” he says with a laugh. We’re thinking the ride’s going to be a lot smoother going forward.