Panels are a big reason why many attend conventions. However, circumstances can prevent a planned panel from happening. When things change, sometimes panelists decide to cancel. Chester Rushing is not such a person.
Chester Rushing came out on stage alone. No other actor. No moderator. Just him and us. And he was delightful.
During the panel, we learned that Rushing is a fan of a lot of the media con goers are too – video games, genre film and TV, anime (such as Fairy Tail and Blue Exorcist), and any Studio Ghibli film (Howl’s Moving Castle is one of his all-time favorites). He got personal as well, discussing growing up in Texas as a theater kid and the backlash he faced because he wasn’t into football, which is basically a religion in the Lone Star state.
Acting is a difficult occupation to pursue; jobs are not guaranteed to come at a regular pace, even if you have an agent, so Rushing, like many other actors, had to work non-acting jobs to pay the bills. While working at a Mexican restaurant attached to a gas station, he sent in an audition for a Netflix show. A few weeks later, he got a call. He didn’t land that job; instead, he got an opportunity to audition for another show – as long as he could make his own way to Atlanta. Rushing went. When he came back after three days, his job at the Mexican restaurant was gone. The former employer called about a week later for him to get his last check, which was one dollar. He drove back home, and that was the day they called him for Stranger Things.
Season three of the show has started filming, but he obviously couldn’t talk about it. Rushing shared his appreciation about how every detail is important in the creation of Stranger Things. The costumes, props, and set pieces are beautiful and well-made, even the Upside Down is an actual set. “You actually feel like you’re in a world. No matter where you go on that set, it literally [feels] like you [are] in a living, breathing world.”
An audience member asked if working on a Netflix project was different than on a typical TV show. Rushing answered, “Whenever I do a network show, you really shoot one episode a week. Stranger Things, they do an episode a month. So, I’m there shooting like a long movie. It’s insane. Netflix, I feel like, or Hulu, my new show’s on Hulu, they give you a little more freedom. Not only as from the writing, directing, creating standpoint, which I knew the Duffers were excited about, but as an artist and as an actor as well. Because you want to be able to experiment and sometimes go a little bit out of it more.”
Another asked if he was nervous working on Stranger Things. “No, I was excited. I was really nervous in the fact that it was something so big that I really wanted to work on it. I wanted to do a good job because this was the first time in my life where I knew I was going to be seen on a world stage with people that I had looked up to my whole life. It was that wanting to do good in my craft.”
I asked him if he liked that people don’t like his character or if he was hurt by it. “I think the fact that people hated my guts means I did a pretty great job. That was my job. My job was to be a bully, my job was to be that kind of guy because, in real life, there are those people. And playing those people, I think those characters are as important in the story, in my opinion, as Eleven. You have to have something to fight against. Question is – would Steve have learned to be good if it wasn’t for my example of being horrible? Cause he was my best friend for like years and years; Tommy was his best friend. And he did everything he did until all of a sudden it wasn’t cool anymore. I like the fact that people hate my guts.” After describing how many people come up to him to tell him that he makes a great douchebag, Rushing concluded, “My hope is that somebody watches this show and sees Tommy and goes, ‘I don’t want to be that. I do not want that. Ever.’ That’s my hope because he’s a bully and that’s against everything I believe.”
Chester Rushing enjoys meeting people at conventions and hearing what they think of his work. What I appreciate the most is his infectious joy. He radiates positivity and believes we can improve ourselves and the world around us. The next day, I went to his booth. I was surprised he remembered me; in fact, he hugged me. I told him how much I respected his behavior during the panel and thanked him for not cancelling and for not “phoning it in.” If he keeps this kindness in his heart, he will definitely be one to watch.
If you need a fix of Chester Rushing before season three of Stranger Things, then log into Hulu and watch All Night. The 10-episode teen comedy is about a group of graduates attending a party that lasts all night. Rushing portrays Cody, a guy who uses one event in his past as an excuse for his current situation. The series has a modern John Hughes-esque vibe that explores themes of repressed anger, power balances in relationships, loss of structured daily life, and revelations of the heart.
You can keep up to date on all of his projects, including his music, by visiting his website – https://www.chesterrushing.net/