Winona Ryder was the talk of the town in the 90s, attracting headlines for her work in movies like Edward Scissorhands, Mermaids, and Little Woman among others. But after the turn of the century, Ryder found herself in a muddy situation following getting caught shoplifting in 2001. The development led to the star actress slowly drifting away from the limelight.
Years later in 2016, Stranger Things – a show about a group of kids juggling with supernatural forces – premiered on Netflix and introduced a new generation of fans to Ryder, who has been the life of the popular series ever since her very first appearance. It won’t be far-fetched to say that science fiction horror revived the actresses’ career. However, when Ryder was approached for a potential appearance in the show, she didn’t even know what she was getting into.
What Winona Ryder Asked Before Joining Stranger Things
Winona Ryder plays the role of Joyce Byers in Stranger Things. Byers is a financially struggling single mother of Jonathan and Will Byers. The disappearance of her son, Will, who vanished from Hawkins, and her subsequent relentless search for him is a big driving force of the show in Season 1. Her relationship with Jonathan, who is guilt-ridden for not being able to be there for his brother, also adds a lot of emotional depth to the Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer-created show.
By Season 4, Ryder’s importance only heightens as her character becomes Eleven’s (Millie Bobby Brown) guardian. Interestingly, when she first sat down with the team of Stranger Things, she had some initial questions, which had nothing to do with the script.
“She opened by asking, ‘What is Netflix? What is streaming? Is it like TV but different?’ That was the starting point… Yeah, Winona took a little onboarding to explain this emerging form of storytelling called Netflix and streaming.”
Once Ryder was past these inquiries, she took little time in seamlessly assuming the character and becoming a fan-favorite on the show.
How Stranger Things Creators Convinced Winona Ryder to Join the Netflix Series
Duffer revealed during an episode of the podcast Skip Intro that it was the actress who made Joyce an interesting character, leading to some of the show’s most famous plot points.
However, it wasn’t easy to get Ryder’s nod, as she had never appeared in a TV show before Strangers Things.
To convince her to join their project, the Duffer brothers sent her a “pitch document” that they made that had “some pretty pictures in it that had E.T. and Jaws and all the John Carpenter [films] that tried to capture the aesthetic of the show.”
Further, they even sent her a fake trailer to convey the gist of the show. After a four-and-a-half-hour meeting, Ryder agreed. Now, it’s impossible to imagine the show without her presence on the screen. She will reprise her role in the fifth and final season of the horror drama.