Cara Buono changed one detail in Billy and Karen Wheeler's original Stranger Things 3 storyline
8 July 2019, 12:22 | Updated: 8 July 2019, 14:13
Stranger Things actress Cara Buono reveals why she asked for the scene between her character Mrs Wheeler and Billy Hargrove to be changed.
Setting up a dynamic very reminiscent of Dustin Hoffman's 1967 film The Graduate, Stranger Things 3 explored the budding relationship and sexual chemistry between Mike and Nancy's mum Karen Wheeler (Cara Buono), and teen heartthrob, Billy Hargrove (Dacre Montgomery).
Viewers already got a sense that there was something between the two characters in season 2, after Billy stopped by the Wheelers' house to find his younger sister Max (Sadie Sink). In the scene, Mrs Wheeler was fresh out the bathtub, wearing a bathrobe and little else. Naughty.
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Skip forward to season 3 and Karen sits in a prime poolside position with her friends, waiting for Billy to take over from Heather as lifeguard at the Hawkins outdoor swimming pool.
As he passes by, Billy nods to Mrs Wheeler and says hello, before complimenting her new swimming costume.
But it doesn't stop there - they later share an exchange in which Billy suggests teaching Karen "how to swim", offering her "private lessons" and going through the various "swimming stokes" he could teach her. Phwoar!
Before they part ways, Billy and Karen set a date and time to meet at a local motel, leading fans to think shit is gonna go downnnn.
Speaking to Glamour, Buono said about the poolside scene: "When we inch toward each other at the pool and things become more intimate, it was a real line to toe because it's still a family show."
She continued: "Billy and Karen do have great chemistry—this very sexual attraction—so you balance that with the fact that there are other people around, other moms around, Karen's daughter Holly is in the pool, and there's an audience watching.
Cara said she wanted to give the audience a little bit, but not fulfil that desire: "That way it's thrilling to watch, but not uncomfortable."
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However, while Mrs Wheeler gets ready for the date and is all set to go meet Billy - even contemplating taking her wedding ring off - she changes her mind last minute, as she sees her youngest daughter Holly sprawled across her husband's lap as they both sleep in the living room. While we so wanted Karen Wheeler to finally get the summer lovin' she deserves, we get it.
But that's not how the scene originally was going to pan out, according to Buono. The Duffer Brothers reportedly just had Mr Wheeler sat in the chair at first, but feeling that Mrs Wheeler would need more incentive to decline Billy's offer, Cara insisted they place Holly in the scene, too.
"There are few things that really spark a strong feeling for me, but it was important," Buono said.
"I immediately said to them, you have to put Holly in there. If not, it might give her pause. But to see Ted with their daughter, it's like, 'That's my family.' She realises she can't do this to her family. She realises it's not about her. She's the grownup, and she has to make the grownup decision for her and Billy."
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Agreeing with the outcome, Billy Hargrove actor Dacre Montgomery commented: "Of course you want to see her fulfilled. It's like the fantasy."
He added: "In that moment you see her partner with their kid and it’s like, ‘Jesus, don’t do it.' And she doesn’t, which I think is really redemptive. Because for Billy, he's not really going out on that much of a limb. He's a single guy, a young dude. He's flirting with her—but for her, there's so much more at stake."