Wi­nona Ry­der turns back the clock with Stranger Things

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - LAU­REN LA ROSE

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.

CURTIS BAKER, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Net­flix se­ries “Stranger Things” is set in the 1980s, and sees Wi­nona Ry­der open­ing a probe into the mys­te­ri­ous dis­ap­pear­ance of her son.

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