Winona Ryder turns back the clock with Stranger Things
TORONTO — Prior to signing on to the Netflix supernatural series “Stranger Things,” Winona Ryder was admittedly not the biggest buff of the genre.
“Because it was something I’ve never done, I wanted to try it, and it seemed like a great way to try it because it wasn’t uber-violent or super disturbing,” the two-time Oscar nominee said in a recent conference call with reporters.
“I think in the end there is a lot about friendship and family in extraordinary situations.”
Created, written and directed by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer (“Wayward Pines,” “Hidden,”) “Stranger Things” has been described as a love letter to ‘80s supernatural classics.
Ryder makes a rare foray to the small screen to portray Joyce, a struggling single mother of two boys. When her young son Will vanishes without a trace, loved ones and police embark on a search — only to be drawn into a mystery involving hush-hush government experiments and supernatural forces.
Ryder said she thought about her own mom in inhabiting the role of Joyce. She also drew from notable film portrayals of mothers, including Ellen Burstyn as the titular widow in 1974’s “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” and Marsha Mason in the 1977 reincarnation thriller “Audrey Rose” and 1983 comedy-drama “Max Dugan Returns.”
“Stranger Things” was filmed on location in Atlanta, which serves as the stand-in for small-town Hawkins, Ind., in 1983.
With past experience in period pieces like “The Age of Innocence,” and “Girl, Interrupted,” Ryder said she has a particular fondness for historical vehicles because of the emphasis on more meaningful faceto-face exchanges.
“It always meant there was going to be more dialogue and more communication which is something I really miss.”
Even just the simple act of using a rotary phone in “Stranger Things” stirred up memories.
“I remember having one of those growing up, and I remember making my first call to a boy,” Ryder recalled. “Dialing those numbers — and it took a while — it gave you some time to figure out what you were going to say. It was kind of a character builder in a way. Nowadays, you can construct the perfect thing to say in a text.
“I’m not against technology at all. I think it can do wonderful things and bring people closer together ... (But) it was nice to go back to a time before all of that.”
“Stranger Things” began streaming Friday.
Netflix series “Stranger Things” is set in the 1980s, and sees Winona Ryder opening a probe into the mysterious disappearance of her son.