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Off the ice with… Noah Schnapp

An exclusive interview with the star of Stranger Things

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

A virtual unknown more than a year ago, actor Noah Schnapp has rapidly become a household name thanks to his gig playing Will Byers in Stranger Things. Despite the sudden popularity, Schnapp has been trying to keep a low profile and do the things he loves, like watching his favorite team: the Canadiens, of course. To coincide with the release of the second season of Stranger Things, we caught up with the 13-year-old young man during one of his visits to the Bell Centre to learn a bit more about his passion for the Habs.

We've been told that your favorite hockey team is the Montreal Canadiens. Is that true? How did it all start?
NOAH SCHNAPP:
It is true, for sure. When I was very little, I used to watch the Rangers a lot, but I'm a true-to-heart Habs fan. One time, I went to a Bruins game and I had to pretend that I was a Bruins fan, but I'm truly a Habs fan.

My dad is a huge Habs fan. He'd always be yelling at the TV and screaming at the players. I just started watching with him once, and I became a big fan.

Tell us about your connection to this town, despite being born in NYC.
NS:
I have citizenship here also. My whole family lives here and I'm a big fan of the Canadiens. So it's like, 'Why not come here?' I have a very personal connection to this place.

How often do you come back here just to relax?
NS:
I go to Montreal a lot - maybe twice a year. I come back a lot, because my whole family lives here. And then, the Habs - there's a lot to come back for. And Orange Julep.

What do you like at Orange Julep?
NS:
It's that drink, it's amazing.

Is the Bell Centre one of your favorite places in the city? What do you like about it?
NS:
Yes. I love the loud music and the big TV's, the food stands, I love the loud vibe. I love everything about it.

With your schedule, how often do you watch the Habs play on TV / live in person?
NS:
Whenever my dad is watching, I'll join him. Usually, I'll check the scores, and that kind of stuff. I follow them online a lot, because I have such a crazy schedule.

Video: NYR@MTL: Noah Schnapp takes in the Habs game

Born and raised in New York, right? You've never been tempted to support the Rangers? 
MITCHELL SCHNAPP (Noah's father):
We had tickets for the semifinals [in 2014]. We're walking to the game, and [Noah] is wearing a Habs shirt going to the game. The hot dog vendor outside said, 'Hey boy, you're confused!'

NS: I remember that story. All I remember is he was mad at us, that we were Habs fans. They're crazy. In Boston, I was walking up in a Habs shirt, and I had a Bruins shirt over it, because I had to pretend. They were like, 'You're a Habs fan! Stop pretending to be a Bruins fan!'

Favorite Habs player?
NS:
Carey Price. I like the goalie. He's just a very good goalie, and I like goalies.

Do you play hockey?
NS:
Yeah, we play street hockey. We have these nets that we set up in our driveway, and me and my dad used to play a lot, and we still do. 

Do people recognize you in the streets?
NS:
Yeah. Not everyone stops me on the streets, but when you're at airports or public places like that. It's kind of weird for me. I don't know how they recognize me. It just happens when people see me. We were at a restaurant and some is guy sitting next to us, and he keeps turning his head and staring. Eventually he asked me, 'Wait, are you that kid from Stranger Things?' I told him I was.

Do you enjoy that people recognize you?
NS:
I remember we were at the Bruins game, and they put me on the big screen, and all these people came down and I got to meet all of them. It was really cool.

Tweet from @noah_schnapp: #gohabsgo so happy to be in Montreal watching @CanadiensMTL #montrealpride https://t.co/NcAq9glGX8

It's not so easy for Habs players to fly under the radar here. Even though you're really young, would you say you have a similar experience since you're star of a well-known show?
NS:
It's definitely something new to me. It's so weird that someone knows who I am without having my name on the back of my shirt. You kind of just get used to it, but it's always going to be weird for me. But I love meeting all of them, because I just know them through Instagram and Twitter, and when you get to meet them in person, it's really cool.

Do you ever wear any Habs gear to set?
NS:
I should! And I should take a picture. I have this pyjama shirt with the Habs [logo] on it. But I'm going to wear a big jersey to set, and I'm going to take a picture and post it. 

Did you expect Stranger Things to have that much success when you first started shooting it?
NS:
No. I remember reading the scripts and thinking that it'd be a good show. But for it to come out and blowup in a snap, you never expect any of that. Things just totally changed.

Season 2 will air this fall. Is there anything you can tell us about it?
NS:
I can tell you that I'm in it. I can tell you that there are new characters. And that it'll be coming out this year.

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