When Netflix's hit series Stranger Things returns for its sophomore season, the town of Hawkins, Indiana, will become the home of a handful of new characters, including Paul Reiser's Dr. Owens.
As some of you may already know, Owens comes to town to replace Matthew Modine's Dr. Brenner (who is presumed dead as a doornail) in the running of the laboratory (aka, to clean up the mess left by Brenner) and oversee the supernatural goings-on in the area.
Fans will mostly know Reiser from his iconic role of
that traitorous little s#!t Carter Burke in James Cameron's Aliens (1986), and it's basically thanks to that movie that the actor landed the role of Dr. Owens for Season 2.
Apparently, when show creators Ross and Matt Duffer pitched the second season to Netflix, they referred to Dr. Owens as "Paul Reiser," and Ross even admitted to Entertainment Weekly that the character was created as an homage to Burke.
"We want people to have those debates like, 'Do you trust that guy or is he Burke?'" Ross says. "Paul was saying the reason James Cameron cast him is because he thought people would inherently trust him and it would be a twist."
What does Paul Reiser himself have to say about the role? When asked if the Duffer Brothers had laid out the whole of the second season for him, the actor said they hadn't, hinting that what they had in mind for the character was still unclear:
"They told me who I was playing and they told me what they had in mind. It was sort of nebulous — is he a good guy or a bad guy? To be honest, I've only read a few of the scripts so I still don't know and I'm not sure they know. I think part of what they were tickled by was, to whatever extent people know me from Aliens, they're automatically going, 'Oh this guy is no good.' I don't know where they're going with it but it's a fun thing to play.
"I have a certain thing in my head that I'm playing. I did a scene a few weeks ago with David Harbour, and it was a heated scene where he's sort of holding me accountable. My lines were to the effect of, "Trust me. Everything is fine." I said, "I don't believe me and I am me!" It just feels like there's such a well-worn precedent not just of Aliens but in life when a government guy says, "No, you're fine. There's nothing to worry about here." It's like, "Yeah, I don't believe you."
As to how different Dr. Owens will be from Mattew Modine's Dr. Brenner, Reiser teased that we'll get to see a more human side from his character:
"There's a little more humanity. Modine's character had very few lines so he was this looming, powerful presence. My guy is much more hands-on and sort of among his many degrees is that he has a bedside manner that Modine's character did not have. I know coming into this what this community has gone through and my job is to try to walk them through their mistrust."
Stranger Things returns this Halloween on Netflix.