Stranger Things Season 4 is full of dramatic twists and turns that put the main characters in peril, even if the final death count isn’t as high as fans expected. It’s arguably the hit Netflix show’s darkest season, but the extra-long episodes also leave room for comic relief. One consistent source of laughs is Yuri Ismaylov, the silly, scene-stealing Russian pilot who gets caught up in Joyce, Murray, and Hopper’s attempts to survive and get back to Hawkins.
Nikola Djuricko plays Yuri brilliantly. Stranger Things marks his introduction to a wide audience, but Djuricko is far from an overnight success.
In ‘Stranger Things,’ Yuri provides some comic relief
As Joyce and Murray look for ways to spring Hopper from a Russian prison, they have no choice but to rely on Yuri to get them there. His kookiness puts Joyce off, but he appears to be a good person with a rickety plane and a love for crunchy peanut butter. But it quickly becomes clear that Yuri has no interest in loyalty after he drugs Joyce and Murray so he can hand them over to the Russians for a hefty sum.
Yuri’s sense of honor is questionable, but he is not an idiot. After Murray displays his karate skills on the flight, the pilot becomes their tenuous ally as they battle prison guards, Demogorgons, and the freezing climate to get back home before time runs out.
Djuricko’s broad performance has endeared him to Stranger Things fans, including a legendary horror writer. Stephen King took to Twitter to praise the “slimy, slinky Russian guy” and voice his support for a Yuri-centric spinoff.
What other roles has the actor had besides Yuri on ‘Stranger Things’?
Djuricko put together a legitimate career long before he entered the Duffer brothers’ orbit.
According to Djuricko’s official website, the actor made a few guest appearances as a child actor before playing more prominent roles in movies, TV series, and theater productions across Eastern Europe. Djuricko won the Zoran Radmilović Award in 2011 and the Miloš Žutić Award in 2015, two prizes that honor excellence on a Serbian stage.
He began to make inroads in Hollywood in the early 2010s. Djuricko had a small role in World War Z as a Belarus Airlines captain. Before Stranger Things, he also had guest spots on Legends, the BBC program Informer, and For All Mankind.
His next role is in Halo of Stars, a drama about a clown and his daughter set against the backdrop of a traveling circus. Even with his recent forays into American productions, Djuricko is still showing up in projects closer to home. He’ll star in Sveta Obitelj (Holy Family), a Croatian-language film about a rich man who offers a local village girl the chance to marry his son. The actor will also appear in the Serbian movie The Absurd Scam.
Nikola Djuricko: Age, wife, kids, Instagram, and more
Djuricko was born in Belgrade, Serbia, on July 9, 1974. An affinity for acting already ran in his bloodline. His grandmother, Tomanija, appeared in over 70 shows and movies before she died in 1994 at the age of 79. His involvement in the film industry also led him to his wife. Djuricko met Ljiljana Nešić on the set of the 2002 police drama The Cordon while she was working as a production assistant. The two eventually married and have a daughter and son together, IMDb reports.
There isn’t much information about Djuricko’s kids online (all things considered, that’s probably for the best), but his Instagram posts show the family is very close. They moved to Los Angeles in 2019, so expect to see Djuricko in more Hollywood productions.