Warning spoilers, ahead! Stranger Things season 4 has been full of surprises and cameos, but one proved to be more challenging to film than the rest. In episode 4, fans saw Billy return to our small screens after the character was killed off in season 3, with Dacre Montgomery reprising the role. However, due to Covid-19, this big return was what director Shawn Levy has now dubbed as one of the biggest challenges of his career – as it had to all be done over Zoom.
“Dacre is a good friend and someone I have been a massive fan of since the first line of his Billy self-taped audition. When I read that I got to bring back Billy, I was over the moon,” Levy told Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview. “But here’s what’s crazy: Because Covid scuttled all of our production plans in the midst of an already massively ambitious season, Dacre could not leave Australia to film his scene.”
The scene in question involved Max (Sadie Sink) reading a letter to her late brother Billy at his gravesite. The big bad Vecna then casts an illusion, transporting Max to a graveyard where a grisly looking Billy approaches her. Obviously, it would have been more ideal for the two actors to have filmed the sequence together; however, Levy had to direct the star digitally due to the pandemic.
“It was rescheduled again and again and again, and there were lockdowns and protocol updates and more lockdowns and more stringent border restrictions,” Levy explained.
“So with the clock running down, we had no choice but to have me direct over Zoom [with Montgomery] in Australia on a soundstage, while I had already shot the scene in a cemetery with Sadie Sink a year earlier.”
Montgomery’s part in the sequence was then added into the scene in the post-production phase. Despite not physically reuniting with the Stranger Things crew, the star did go on to express his gratitude in an Instagram post.
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Sharing a pic of himself in a bloodied-up costume, the star wrote the following caption: “Feeling extremely fortunate to have been able to shoot these scenes during the pandemic in my hometown, Perth (in Australia). What an absolute blessing to work with such an incredible local crew and [Shawn Levy] directing on Zoom!”