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Back to the Future Vibes and More “Dad Steve”: New Details on Stranger Things Season 3

This may shock you, but Netflixs hit show Stranger Things is deeply inspired by 1980s pop culture. And according to executive producer and occasional director Shawn Levy, Season 3 will pull specific inspiration from the timeless 1985 hit Back to the Future. Levy revealed this and a few other juicy details at a Stranger Things PaleyFest panel with the cast on Sunday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Back to the Future inspiration is perfectly timed for the next season, which will pick up one year after the events of Season 2, in the summer of 1985. (TV-weather fanatics—you exist, right?—should be excited to finally see what Hawkins looks like in a season other than eternal fall.)

“We are going back to work this month,” Levy said, confirming the shows production schedule. Though the panel was predictably slight on deeper plot details, Levy and the cast did share a few more tidbits. Fans of Hawkinss many blossoming relationships will be glad to know that Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) and Max (Sadie Sink) are still going strong, as are Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown). (The show is so secretive that Brown apparently only found this out on the red carpet at the festival.) That said, expect some turbulence ahead.

“Theyre like 13- or 14-year-old kids, so what does romance mean at that stage of life?” Levy said. “It can never be simple and stable relationships, and theres fun to that instability.”

There is no word yet about Dustins (Gaten Matarazzo) love life—but thats probably for the best right now, since hes likely still purring at people. However, we do know that hell still have a dear friend in Steve Harrington (Joe Keery), who turned into Season 2s fan favorite after becoming something of a babysitter to the core kids.

“Well definitely get to see some more of Steve Harrington in Season 3,” Levy promised, “and Ill just say we won't be abandoning the Dad Steve magic. I dont want to say much more, but I literally feel that we were walking along and we stumbled onto a gold mine with Dad Steve.”

Speaking of gold mines, it was revealed last week that the entire cast received a major salary bump for this season. Winona Ryder and David Harbour reportedly landed north of $300,000 per episode, while the main kids landed around $200,000-$250,000. Brown, whose star has risen thanks to her role as Eleven, reportedly landed a higher bump than her teen castmates. But that wasnt a point of conversation at PaleyFest, with Levy and the cast focusing instead on the handful of plot points they were allowed to reveal.

The panel did, however, also address some behind-the-scenes issues, with Levy directly responding to claims from former crew member Peyton Brown, who said she saw women get verbally abused on the set.

“We were genuinely upset,” Levy told T.H.R., echoing Matt and Ross Duffers statement. “And we were surprised to hear that anyone felt uncomfortable on set. I want to be really clear that nobody has been targeting in any way on the basis of race or gender; we all cherish the family that weve created on screen and cherished equally the family that we created on set and were going to remain committed to the well-being of that.”

The Duffers, the shows creators, released a statement in early March denying Browns claims. Netflix said it looked into the claims and “found no wrongdoing,” reiterating the importance of maintaining a “safe, respectful atmosphere.” In the meantime, Season 3 is barreling ahead as scheduled.

Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:See Lena Waithes Vanity Fair Cover ShootYohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.

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