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McDaniel standing alongside his 1979 Dodge D-50

Local is "Stranger Things" contributor

By Michael Butler

"Stranger Things" has been a huge success. In its four seasons, the television show has been Netflix's most-watched original series and the most followed on social media.

A Tallassee resident has played a part in the sensation that has reached millions worldwide. John McDaniel got his foot in the door through a family connection.

"It came from my sister," McDaniel said. "This was right after season one. She has a late '80s Volkswagon bus. She told me that she had paid for her vehicle by doing extras work with her vehicle on Stranger Things. I had just restored a '78 Honda CB400 motorcycle. She said maybe I could get that on the show. Next thing you know I'm on Stranger Things season two.

"If you haven't watched the show, it's quite a fun show. It's great because the kids love it. The kid actors are fantastic. It's also great for parents because it's a period show that takes place in the mid to late 80s."

The show is being shot in several Atlanta-area locations.

"I grew up just outside of Atlanta," said McDaniel. "My father wanted a retirement place where he had a pond. He was tired of living in the city. He found some property here in Tallassee."

McDaniel's collection

Acting has been a new thing for McDaniel, but he has found himself involved in more films than just Stranger Things.

"The very first movie I did was "Shaft." Samuel L. Jackson did this one that took place a couple of years ago. "Just Mercy" shot a scene in Montgomery just outside of the courthouse. That was before I lived here, but we drove down from Atlanta. That was with Brie Larson, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx."

Being around big stars has become a regular thing, but McDaniel keeps his distance.

"We limit our interaction as crew members and extras. They are really mentally focused to have their lines memorized, to express the emotion that they need in the show. We don't want to interrupt that."

McDaniel's Toyota Celica in a scene from Season 4

You can spot McDaniel in some of the scenes, if you know where to look.

"There's a scene where Cary Elwes is the mayor in the town of Hawkins. He's introducing the carnival. A big fireworks display is about to take place. You can find me in the audience.

"There was a movie, "Trial by Fire," where they needed some death row prison guards. I happened to be one of the people who fit into one of their uniforms. I got to do one featured role. It had nothing to do with the fact that I can't or can act."

There will be a season five for Stranger Things. In the meantime, McDaniel spends a good bit of his spare time working on his vintage vehicles, which just might land in a future scene.

"I still go to Atlanta to do some filming. I love Tallassee. I went to my first high school football game in over 40 years. That was a blast."