001 Actor Raphael Luce Talks Stranger Things and the Power of the Show's Fandom

Playing a young 001/Henry Creel in the new season of Stranger Things was far from actor Raphael Luce's first gig—but it's certainly been his biggest so far.

Raphael had previously appeared in LokiMoon Manor and The First Lady, but it was his Stranger Things role that really put him on the map and propelled him to stardom—as well as introduced him to the series' unstoppable fanbase. We had the pleasure of getting the chance to chat with Raphael all about his history as an actor from an entertainment family, his time on the Stranger Things set and how his life has changed since the show, and here's everything he shared with us.

Sweety High: When did you discover your passion for acting? Was there any specific a-ha moment that made you realize it was the path for you?

Raphael Luce: My parents were always performers. They met while working in Cirque du SoIeil. My dad is a high-wire walker, sometimes on fire. My mom was a gymnast; she became a stuntwoman after her Cirque career. They are both risk takers, so making a 180° turn in life doesn't scare them.

I spent a lot of time in Los Angeles as my parents worked in the business as stunt performers—and a few of my friends at the time already worked in commercials. I spent a lot of years at our house in the middle of nature in the south of France, but when I was about 10, I really felt like I wanted to go to L.A. for good and try being an actor because I thought it was such a fun job. I don't know a lot of kids who wouldn't agree with that! I mean stunts are really cool too, but until I am 18 years old, I can't really play in that field.

My parents decided that we had spent enough time in nature and that they were ready to go back out there and start a new chapter in our life. We flew to Vermont and bought a bus that was going to partly become our home while we traveled cross country to Los Angeles and settled there for a while. We sure had many adventures on the way.

Raphael Luce with family bus

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

We became homeschooled and started taking many classes: acting, dance, music, singing, stunts—whatever could help our new career path.

Raphael Luce homeschooling with family

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

My younger brother and sister were old enough and so they decided to get everyone an agent and dive into this new life as a family. It has been really fun and it's nice to all be on the same page, help and support each other through it all. Of course, we got there, and who started booking jobs? My brother and sister! Lol! My French accent got in the way at first, so I had to work a lot on reducing it—I am getting better. It's not that easy.

My sister, Jophielle Love, got a regular gig on General Hospital. My brother, Gabriel Sky, played Kristen Stewart's son on Seberg. Finally, my turn arrived! We have auditioned so much! Sometimes, it can take 100 self-tapes to book one job. You have to be persistent and not get discouraged. At times, you get so close that you get "pinned on the wall," which means you are on the director's table to one chosen for the part—and bam, you lose it and you never know why. It's hard to not care at that point. You learn to turn the page quickly and get back on the horse. It's a big commitment. You have to be in 100%—and your parents, too. So it feels extremely good when you book a job.

 

Also read about: Stranger Things Actress Olivia Sembra Shares the Big Acting Tip Millie Bobby Brown Gave Her

 

SH: Were you a big Stranger Things fan before booking the role of Henry Creel/001? What did it mean to you to get the part?

RL: I watched the first season, and I really liked it, but I forgot about it, and so when I booked the job, I really had to hurry and catch up! It was amazing because I knew how big it was and I actually couldn't believe it until I was on set. Like I said before, it takes a lot to get a part, when often something happens and it goes away, so when you are finally on set, you start believing it!

I didn't know at the time that my part was going to be so important to the story of the season. I feel like I won the lottery or something. I am definitely aware that this is the chance of a lifetime to some degree. I was 12 when I got the job, and I had to keep it secret for three years! You know how much torture that is?

That's what I looked like on my first day on set:

Raphael Luce on first day of set

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

So when the teaser came out and I actually was in the first half of it, I was so relieved that I could actually say that I was in it!  Of course, at that point, it just looked like my character was killed off right away, so it was like, "Oh cool, you got to introduce Season 4!" Truly, it made it even more powerful when Episode 7 came out and the twist got revealed!  We all got our brains blown! Even us, the actors, who didn't have all the pieces together to understand it all. It was super cool!

Raphael Luce in front of trailer

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

 

Also read about: Stranger Things Star Bentley Williams Talks Playing 15 and Making Millie Bobby Brown Proud

 

SH: Did you get to work with Jamie Campbell Bower? 

RL: We actually haven't met to this day—every time we tried, we got pulled to set or other before we could—but it looks like we might meet soon at a convention, and I am really looking forward to it because I thought we were really a good match onscreen and I really admire his performance as 001. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to play his younger self. I hope I get to be as good of an actor as he is, in the future. It was fun to play a bit of an evil character. Even if I didn't know much about the depth of it, just walking on this weird set of The Upside Down gave me enough of a vibe to play with. I sure would have loved to have Jamie guide me through it. Ugh—really!

Raphael Luce in the upside down

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

 

Also read about: Stranger Things' Chloe Adona Talks Playing 009 and Celebrating Millie Bobby Brown's Birthday

 

SH: Is playing a younger version of another character different from your typical acting role? How, or how not?

RL: Not really, as I have been playing a lot of younger versions of characters in my young career. Young Jimmy in Moon Manor, young James Roosevelt on The First Lady—but actually, people may not know this, but when I was playing young Henry, I didn't know much about the character and surely didn't know I was playing 001 until I saw it tattooed on my wrist.

Raphael Luce 001 tattoo

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

I had a suspicion after playing detective with the bits and pieces of the script I was given each day, which was kind of fun. The big hint was when they gave me a bloody nose—but that could have meant many other numbers, right?

Raphael Luce with bloody nose

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

The production was so worried about any possible leakage of storylines to the fans that even some of the main characters were not given all the information. That wasn't very helpful to try to play a good younger version of a character. I had to just let myself be guided by the directors. You can trust that they know exactly how to bring you to their vision.

Raphael Luce getting 001 tattoo

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

 

Also read about: Stranger Things' Hendrix Yancey Shares Her Superfandom and Millie Bobby Brown's Epic Set Prank

 

SH: What was your most memorable moment from the Stranger Things set?

RL: There are a few fun stories. For example, they had to re-do all my costume fittings and re-adjust all my clothes after production got interrupted for more than a year and a half because of COVID, because all the kids had grown a couple of inches.

Raphael Luce outfit sizing

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

I had 11 costumes—more than anyone else in the cast because of the many flashbacks I had. Some of the main characters only have one or two!

Raphael Luce Stranger Things costumes

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

Another one is when we showed up on stage and I had a stunt double there to double me that day. My mom was so bummed because she is a stunt double, and at that time, we were exactly the same height and that would have been her only chance to ever stunt double me! On top of that, the girl who doubled me was a good friend of hers. They laughed a lot at the situation—my mom pretended to strangle her! She can't double me anymore because I am finally way taller than her!

Raphael Luce with stunt woman and his mom

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

Another one happened in the hair and makeup trailer on my first day at work. Once my hair was cut and well done, they realized I had a little fuzz of a baby mustache—and without any warning, there was the electric shaver above my upper lip going at it. My mom was right next to me, and we looked at each other with big eyes and the makeup artist said, "Oh, is it your first shave?" Um, yes! And she said that, as a matter of fact, she gave every actor on the show their first shave! At least that made me feel part of the family! And we laughed.

Raphael Luce getting first shave

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

And another—on set, we got interrupted by a tornado warning. The whole cast and crew had to take refuge in one of the secured stages. Everyone was there. I ended up spending that whole time with Gaten [Matarazzo] and Mason [Dye] (who plays Jason). We played a fun paper game for a while. Gaten had always been super nice to me right away, even though we had no scenes together. We had an instant fun connection together. And since I was so new and on my own, as I was playing the flashback, I really appreciated that.

But really, all the main actors were really nice on set. None of them act like superstars or anything. My dream would be to be picked up for a long-running show like this one, or Friends, a show where you get to play with people who become your best friends, every day, for years! It has to be the best job ever!

Raphael Luce with gaten Matarazzo

(Image courtesy of Raphael Luce)

 

Also read about: Tinsley and Anniston Price on Playing Holly Wheeler and Growing Up on the Set of Stranger Things

 

SH: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

RL: Well, as I was spending a few weeks' vacation in France with my best friends and family, I literally stumbled on the stage of the Stranger Fan Meet convention in Paris. It wasn't really planned. I saw that Millie and Noah were announced to be there on their social media, and I thought that since I was going to be in Paris anyway that day, It would be fun to stop by and say hi!

We really didn't know anything about the world of conventions. We contacted the organizers of the event and asked them if we could stop by to say hi—to which they said no!

We were kind of confused by that, but they quickly added that, since I was Young Henry Creel, if I was to just stop by, the fans would be frustrated and would want to meet me, too. So instead, they would have to have me do the whole event like Millie and Noah—to which I gladly said yes, even though I was stunned to even be offered to participate.

My best friends Julian and Cooper, my mom and I were picked up in a nice car and brought to the convention. When we arrived, I was not prepared for what happened when the door opened. There were, I don't know, close to 100 people screaming my name when I got out of the car. There were three bodyguards who took me, almost by force (I didn't have time to think twice) out of the car and boxed me up while pushing me through the crowd to the lodges. Once I got there, I was kind of in shock of what had just happened. Not that it was a bad feeling at all, of course. It was pretty cool, but I was not expecting that at all. People actually knew my name!

Raphael Luce at stranger things fan event in paris

(Photo credit: People Conventions)

Since Stranger Things came out, my social media exploded and I now have over 2 million followers on TikTok and 350K on IG. I must say, numbers are one thing, but meeting the people for real is another. It was surreal, and I had a smile on my face the whole day while meeting the fans. I was on stage with Millie [Bobby Brown] and Noah [Schnapp], who were very supportive, knowing that it was my first time on stage. I was answering questions that I had not even thought about yet. It was an incredible experience and I want to remember that feeling and give that smile to every fan at every convention, because I want them to know that I really appreciate them. Some people come from very far away to meet us, and that's something that you should remember when you only have a very short time with every one of them while signing an autograph or taking a picture.

Raphael Luce with Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp at fan event

(Photo credit: People Conventions)

I have some time on my hands right now, so I think I will be going to a few conventions as I feel it is important to give back to the fans. I hope I don't disappoint them.

 

Can't get enough of Stranger Things? Click HERE to read our interview with the actress who played Young Eleven.