In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Ryder’s costar David Harbour said she gives feedback to creators Matt and Ross Duffer on the scripts to keep the 1980s accuracy in check, and the Duffer Brothers have modified the scripts after she fact-checks them.
“She’d tell them, ‘This song actually came out in ’85, and you have it in ’83,’” Harbour said. “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 made her film debut in 1986’s Lucas and went on to star in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice, cult teen classic Heathers, and the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic, Great Balls of Fire. The Nineties saw her in such classics as Mermaids, Edward Scissorhands, and Reality Bites.
Having launched her career as a teen and knowing the ups and downs of the business, she serves as a mentor to her young Stranger Things castmates.
“I want the kids to understand, this does not happen,” Ryder said. “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.”
“This business is brutal,” Ryder added. “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.”
She has particularly been a champion for breakout star Millie Bobby Brown, according to Ross Duffer, as Brown grapples with being in the public eye.
“[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 said. “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.”
Stranger Things returns tomorrow, July 1, with the final two episodes of Season Four.