Leave it to an ’80s teen icon to keep “Stranger Things” authentic.
Winona Ryder leads the nostalgic Netflix series set in the 1980s, and when it comes to period-piece details, the “Reality Bites” star keeps it as real as possible on set, even alerting showrunners Matt and Ross Duffer about historical inaccuracies on the sci-fi series.
“She’d tell them, ‘This song actually came out in ’85, and you have it in ’83,’” Ryder’s co-star David Harbour told Harper’s Bazaar. “She knew all of these minute, tiny details they didn’t even know, and they had to change things in the script based on that…It’s just kind of epic how wild her mind is and how it goes to all these different corners.”
Ryder, whose career has weathered its ups and downs much like many other ’80s and ’90s child stars, also acts as a mentor for the new crop of teens on “Stranger Things.”
“I want the kids to understand, this does not happen,” the “Beetlejuice” alum explained about being on a hit show. “This is really unusual. And I’m always telling them, ‘The work is the reward!’ Because when I was that age, it was so hard to enjoy the fruits of my labor.”
Ryder continued, “This business is brutal. You’re working constantly, but if you want to take a break, they tell you, ‘If you slow down, it’s going to stop.’ And then it did slow down. So then you’re hearing, ‘It’s going to be impossible to come back.’ And then that changes to, ‘You’re not even part of the conversation.’ Like, it was brutal.”
Reflecting on her own transition from teen star to her “Stranger Things” comeback, Ryder added, “It’s so interesting when you look at the early aughts. It was a kind of cruel time. There was a lot of meanness out there…And then I remember coming back to L.A. and — it was a rough time. And I didn’t know if that part of my life was over.”
“Stranger Things” co-creator Ross Duffer acknowledged that Ryder’s mentorship for breakout star Millie Bobby Brown, who has also been open about how “overwhelming” and “gross” growing up in the public eye is, has grounded Brown’s skyrocket to stardom.
“[Winona has] talked to the kids about what celebrity is like and how the press can be and the anxiety and confusion that comes along with celebrity,” Duffer shared. “I think she’s really helped them. I know she’s specifically helped Millie [Bobby Brown] a lot to work through that. And that’s something that no one else can help with, really, because so few people have experienced it. It’s not something I understand. It’s not something that, you know, even a parent would understand.”
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