Who is Stranger Things' Cara Buono? Everything you need to know about Karen Wheeler actress

Get to know one of the Netflix series’ returning stars.

Stranger Things has made its return with season 3, welcoming back many of the Hawkins characters we know and love.

Taking more of a central role this time is Mike and Nancy’s mum Karen – here’s all you need to know about Cara Buono, who plays her.

Who is Cara Buono?

Cara is a 45-year-old actor from New York, who graduated from the prestigious Columbia University before turning to acting.

She’s also successful behind the camera, having written, directed and produced several short films.

Her husband Peter Thum sold his Ethos Water business to Starbucks and has used the proceeds to set up several non-profits, including providing clean drinking water to schoolchildren in Kenya and destroying assault rifles in Africa.

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What have I seen her in before?

With a busy career on the big and small screen since the 1990s, you’re sure to have seen Cara somewhere before.

Her best-known roles are Dr Faye Miller in the fourth season of Mad Men, Christopher Moltisanti’s wife Kelli in season 6 of The Sopranos, and in US crime drama series Third Watch.

Cara’s film credits include horror remake Let Me In, 2003 superhero adventure Hulk, and 2018’s police drama Monsters and Men.

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Who is her Stranger Things character Karen Wheeler?

Up until season 3, Karen Wheeler has been a regular but not key character.

She is the mother of Mike, who takes in homeless Eleven before she goes to live with Jim Hopper, and his older sister Nancy who gets embroiled in Mike and his friends’ battles against the upside down.

During the first two series, Karen was only briefly on screen in family scenes at the Wheelers’ home, but from the beginning of the third run she has a bigger role.

Karen and her friends are smitten with Max’s thuggish older stepbrother Billy, who’s got a new job as a lifeguard at the pool they go to.

Shockingly, Karen arranges to meet Billy for a night of passion, but changes her mind last minute when she realises what she could lose with her family.

But with Billy captured and enlisted by the upside down, will Karen be in danger, too?

Stranger Things season 3 is streaming now on Netflix.

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