How to Get Cast on ‘Stranger Things’ Creators’ New Show ‘The Boroughs’

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Photo Source: “Stranger Things” behind the scenes Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/Netflix

When “Stranger Things'' debuted on Netflix in July 2016, the supernatural 1980s throwback became binging material for basically every generation. With the science-fiction vibes of Steven Spielberg’s early work and the horror undertones of Stephen King’s best-selling novels, the drama blended chills and nostalgia for a suspenseful and satisfying experience, led by a cast that included up-and-comers and a few ‘80s vets (like Winona Ryder and Matthew Modine). But as the series moves toward its finale—Season 5 will mark the end of this Hawkins, Indiana, saga—multiple spinoffs within the “Stranger Things'' universe are ready and waiting for their moment in the spotlight. From an animated series to a stage play, we haven’t seen the last of the Upside Down or other works by the Duffer brothers.

One series in particular that’s coming to Netflix soon is “The Boroughs.” The Duffer brothers’ latest project is an eight-episode mystery that echoes the plotline of “Stranger Things”—but with a twist. This new series means future opportunities for actors to land roles that could change their lives forever, much like “Stranger Things” changed the career trajectory for many of its talented cast members, such as Millie Bobby Brown, David Harbour, and Finn Wolfhard. For those interested in learning more about “The Boroughs,” including casting information, here’s what you can expect for this project in the months ahead.


What is “The Boroughs” about?

Although few details have been revealed, we do know that “The Boroughs” is set at an idyllic retirement community in the New Mexico desert. The story will focus on a group of retirees who will become unlikely heroes as they come together to try to stop a supernatural entity from stealing time.

Who is developing “The Boroughs” for Netflix?

The Duffer brothers (Matt and Ross) aren’t “strangers” to Netflix or science fiction—that’s why they are bringing their new supernatural drama to the streamer with Upside Down Pictures, a production company they launched in preparation for the various “Stranger Things” spinoffs in the works at the network. “While the heroes in ‘The Boroughs’ have a few more years on them than the kids from ‘Stranger Things,’ they are a similarly lovable bunch of misfits, and we can’t wait for you to join them on an adventure that is at turns scary, funny and deeply touching,” The Duffer brothers told Tudum.

While the team has yet to announce the casting director attached to this project, the Duffers worked with CD Carmen Cuba to cast “Stranger Things.” Cuba revealed the secrets to casting “Stranger Things,” but when it comes to her general audition process, there’s one thing you must know: Nothing.

“It’s better if I’m a blank slate to them so that they can focus on the audition,” Cuba explained. “I have things that I do that I’ve heard are very particular to me, but if I shared them with you, they would lose their spontaneity for the actor in the room and defeat the whole point!”

When it comes to finding actors herself, she’s always on the lookout: “I use traditional and nontraditional ways to source prospective actors, and it is always guided by what the project actually requires. I am constantly keeping track of people who have stood out to me and do what I can to find creative ways to introduce them to the directors I work with when the timing is right. I do generals with actors who are presented to me by agents, but even those are carefully considered so that when I’m meeting someone, it’s generally because I know of something coming up in the next year that they could be right for. I also seek out people on my own. I set up my own generals with people who I read about or see onstage or in other projects—either in person or via Skype. Sometimes, they aren’t even actors, but performers or just creative types who I think are interesting and inspiring in some way. I’ve Skyped with scientists and other nonperformers to help me in my research for projects where I need some background to help guide my choices. It’s all very natural and organic. I don’t have a set system; I go with what moves me.”

Duffer Brothers


Who is in the cast of “The Boroughs”?

Details about the show’s cast remain under wraps, but fans can expect “The Boroughs” to feature an array of older actors. (But that does not mean you can’t learn a little something from what went into casting the child actors of “Stranger Things.”)

Because the series was announced in spring 2023, many fans might wonder why the team hasn’t shared even a hint about the casting. However, looking back at the “Stranger Things” process, you will understand that the team puts great thought and effort into crafting the perfect ensemble. 

As EP and director Shawn Levy said, “[W]e never really operated with respect for conventional rules…. Winona Ryder was not getting offered a lot of jobs [in 2015]. David Harbour was getting offered jobs, but they tended to be number 7 to 12 on the call sheet. We saw David’s audition, we sat for four hours having tea with Winona, and we came away from those interactions with certainty that we’d found our Hopper and our Joyce. We just knew what our characters felt like when we sat across the table from those actors, and we wanted to take that shot. My point is: The greatest idea in the world for casting is often not the obvious thought.”

If you want to learn more about what it’s like to work on a Duffer brothers production, check out our prior interviews with “Strangers Things” cast members to learn how the roles changed their lives and careers:

Where can you find casting calls for “The Boroughs”?

Currently, no open casting calls are available for “The Boroughs.” In many cases, it’s best to find an agent (if you haven’t done so), as they’re often the key to landing a starring, supporting, or recurring role. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it without representation! Our guides on how to audition for Netflix and how to get cast on “Stranger Things” offer insight into the casting process, which could prove helpful once the opportunity comes your way. (After all, this actor booked a role on “Stranger Things” thanks to Backstage!) We also recommend bookmarking our main Netflix casting page, as it features every project the streamer is casting for right now.

Also, interested residents of the Albuquerque, New Mexico, area should keep an eye out for local casting calls, as those nearest the production have the best chance of getting cast for background work.

When will “The Boroughs” begin filming?

According to the Film & Television Industry Alliance, “The Boroughs” begins filming in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in July 2024, with a wrap date of December 18, 2024. Thus, the series will likely not debut on the streaming service until the latter half of 2025.

Stranger Things

“Stranger Things” behind the scenes Credit: Steve Dietl / Netflix

What are the best audition tips for landing a role on “The Boroughs”?

We might not know who’ll star in “The Boroughs” quite yet, but when it comes to auditioning for a Duffer brothers Upside Down production, nobody knows better than the cast and crew of “Stranger Things.”

Some skills can’t be taught. Dacre Montgomery became the breakout star of “Stranger Things” Season 2, and it changed the young actor’s life forever. However, even he recognizes that learning isn’t limited to the on-set experience—some skills come from simply living your life. “I think if [I] had booked a job at 17, I wouldn’t have been ready. I didn’t have the emotional maturity to step into [the business] or even the work ethic that I feel like I do in some respects now. And you’re forever learning; I’ll be learning until the day I die. But what I mean is I think I would’ve messed it up if I’d been given an opportunity beforehand. It was the right time, right place, right learning had happened,” Montgomery said. “I’d fallen in love, had my heart broken, been to university, learned all kinds of things, and kind of grown up and grown out of myself and was ready to take that thing and really do as much justice to it as I could.”

Embrace what makes you come alive. Sadie Sink may be young, but the star who plays Max Mayfield on “Stranger Things” has a very mature outlook on the kind of career she hopes to establish. “I don’t want to ever play a character who doesn’t challenge me. If I’m just doing the same thing, I don’t think there’s a reason to do it. I’m looking to the people who came before me—I really admire Cate Blanchett—and learning a lot. [I’m] treating their careers like a master class, looking at the roles they choose and when they choose them,” Sink said. “You have to trust yourself and your intuition. Know what’s going to make you excited to get up and go to set. At the end of the day, that’s how it started for me, and that’s how it should remain.”

Be open to mixing things up. Cuba knows what it’s like to cast both young and veteran actors, so it’s no surprise she recommends coming into the audition room equipped with a prepared yet playful mindset. “The best habit I think an actor can have is to be prepared enough that he/she can use that preparation to feel confident and playful in the audition—even if it’s not necessarily a playful role,” Cuba told us. “And to not judge themselves while they are in the middle of it if they feel like it’s going sideways is also key. It’s such a vulnerable thing to go into these rooms and put everything into these fleeting moments; filling them with an actual creative exchange should be key.”

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