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Alberto E. Rodriguez

If you've binge-watched the Netflix sci-fi thriller "Stranger Things," you know that actor Joe Keery is a standout. You also know he has perfect '80s movie hair.

But did you know he's from Newburyport?

"My whole family still lives there," Keery said of his Massachusetts roots. "I was actually just on Cape Cod for a week."

Like the rest of us, Keery, who graduated from Newburyport High in 2010 before attending DePaul University, watched the show when all eight episodes were released on Netflix in mid-July. He knew the role might be a game-changer for his career; "Stranger Things" had buzz from the start, partly because of its star, Winona Ryder, who plays a single mom investigating the seemingly supernatural disappearance of her son.


The show, set in the '80s, is a nod to all things Steven Spielberg and Stephen King, with Keery in the ensemble cast as suave Steve Harrington, who manages to be a vulnerable boyfriend and a popular bully at the same time. The character gets more depth than your average '80s villain, which made him more fun to play, Keery said.

"It's not like Biff from 'Back to the Future,' who's just a jerk," he said.

Keery said he didn't have to do much research for the role when it came to the vibe of the decade. He likes old movies, and was already well-versed in "The Goonies," "E.T.," and other classics that inspired "Stranger Things."

"All of the John Carpenter movies scared the crap out of me when I was a kid," he said.

Keery said his sister, Caroline — who works for River Valley Charter School in Newburyport — gets credit for his acting career.

"She did high school plays," Keery said. "She's kind of was the one who dragged me along."