Spoiler alert: For those who are watching season three of “Stranger Things” on Netflix, this story contains some spoilers.
Capital Region residents who have made their way through the latest season of “Stranger Things” may have noticed a familiar face in the finale.
Gabriella or Gabby Pizzolo of Niskayuna appears as Suzie, a smart and nerdy teen.
She comes into the storyline after meeting Dustin, one of the main characters, played by Gaten Matarazzo, at summer camp. The two are in a long distance relationship and try to communicate via radio.
The show is created by the Duffer brothers (Matt and Ross) and features Winona Ryder, Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Caleb McLaughlin and others. It’s set in the 1980s in Hawkins, Indiana, and follows what happens when a mysterious laboratory unlocks a door to another dimension, known in the show as the Upside Down. Everything from the costumes to the set design to the filming style is nostalgic, paying homage to films and shows of the 1980s.
Including Suzie’s costume — think oversized glasses and a floral nightgown.
Throughout the season, which was released last Thursday, there’s a running joke that Suzie doesn’t actually exist. Thus, Pizzolo has been reluctant to even allude to her involvement in the show.
“I couldn’t say anything about the show. Obviously, the character was a spoiler so I wouldn’t want to spoil the season for anyone so nobody knew until a few days ago. Even our neighbors just found out,” Pizzolo said.
It’s not until the finale that it’s confirmed that Suzie does indeed exist. Pizzolo is only on screen for a few minutes, but she plays a pivotal role, helping Dustin — a friend both on screen and off — when he needs it most.
“I knew Gaten. We had both been down in the city doing different shows at the same time. So we would always hang out at the park,” Pizzolo said.
She’s also known other cast members like Sadie Sink, who plays Max, and Caleb McLaughlin, who plays Lucas, since she was 9 years old. At the time, she was performing in “Matilda” on Broadway.
“We all were in the same round of kids who were all in different shows on Broadway at the same time. We would meet up at the park in between shows or just meet up with each other to play,” Pizzolo said.
So last summer, when she heard about the chance to audition for the show, she went for it.
“[When] I heard about the audition I was actually on vacation at my grandparents’ house. I read the material and I had seen the show before and I was just thinking the scene was so perfectly written that I kind of had an idea of what they might be imagining in their heads since I knew what the vibe they were giving off was,” Pizzolo said.
She made an audition tape, sent it in, and within a few weeks started filming with the cast and crew. At 16, Pizzolo has been on Broadway, voice-acted in a Nickelodeon show, and acted in a few movies. However, “Stranger Things” is her first Netflix series.
Pizzolo is first seen in the finale reading “A Wizard of Earthsea,” by Ursula K. Le Guin, a popular fantasy novel. Shortly after, she and Matarazzo break out into a duet, singing the theme song from “The NeverEnding Story,” a film which Pizzolo personally loves.
“I knew that people had been asking ‘Oh since Gaten does theater is he ever going to sing on the show?’ I thought they wrote that in perfectly,” Pizzolo said.
While on set, Pizzolo got to meet the rest of the cast and crew, which was one of her favorite parts about the experience.
“Getting to watch the Duffers work and watching the rest of the cast and crew work together cohesively, it was like everyone was a part of a family. They all worked together so well,” Pizzolo said.
While the filming process went smoothly — they were done within a weekend — the role came with added pressure.
“The pressure that I put on myself to make it good. The scene is so perfect, I felt like I needed to do the Duffers justice,” Pizzolo said.
The popularity of “Stranger Things” has only seemed to grow since the first season was released in 2016. Earlier this week, Netflix announced that 40 million households watched season three of “Stranger Things” during the first four days it was out, more than any other show on the platform, with 18.2 million finishing all eight episodes.
Pizzolo, who was a fan of the show well before she landed a role in it, said that the show’s popularity is in part due to its variety.
“There’s a bit of horror and suspense but there’s also comedy and there’s a bit of romance. There’s something for everyone,” Pizzolo said.
Many are eagerly awaiting news about the next season, including Pizzolo.
“I know nothing about the following seasons,” Pizzolo said.
In other words, stay tuned.