Magazine article Variety

Summer's 'Stranger' Binge Phenomenon

Magazine article Variety

Summer's 'Stranger' Binge Phenomenon

Article excerpt

TV / Q&A

Last summer it was "Mr. Robot" and "UnReal." This summer, TV's biggest surprise sensation has been Netflix's '80s set thriller "Stranger Things." A unique mix of adventure, horror, teen angst, and adult drama, the series seemed to come out of nowhere when the season's eight episodes hit the streaming service July 15. Part of the credit belongs with the largely fresh-faced cast, including Millie Bobby Brown as the enigmatic Eleven, a young girl who breaks free of her top secret science experiment prison, and a welcome comeback for '90s icon Winona Ryder, playing radically against type as the distraught mother of a missing boy. Variety spoke with Ryder and Brown at the recent Television Critics Assn. press tour about the show's breakout success, working with wunderkind twin brother creators Matt and Ross Duffer, and those haunting Christmas lights.

Winona, you're not on social media. Have you followed the reaction "Stranger Things" has had this summer?

Winona Ryder: No, but people have shown me things.

Millie Bobby Brown: It's been amazing. You got an A+ from Stephen King.

Ryder: That was crazy.

Brown: The fans - apparently they're called the Strangers.

Ryder: What is that?

Brown: I had no idea what they were called, and I said, "We need to find a name." Because, like the Taylor Swift fans are called the Swifties ...

Ryder: I didn't know that. The Swifties? Like a Swifty Picker Upper? I have one of those to clean my house.

Brown: [laughs] She thought Snapchat was chips.

Ryder: Because in "Heathers" we had the Snappy Snack Shack. It was the 7-Eleven place. I thought it had something to do with food.

Have you seen Snapchat now?

Brown: We were doing Snapchat on lunch. I have the best picture of her, with the bee [filter]. She got so scared.

Ryder: It's like the mirrors when you go to the fair and they have those weird reflections, you're tiny or super stretched.

Brown: Obviously, Noni's not on social media and I am. It's amazing because you see so many great reviews about the show and about Noni and really everyone. And IMDb is crazy. Winona's number five.

Ryder: I know what IMDb is, but I didn't know about the numbers.

Brown: It's basically like who's most searched on IMDb.

Ryder: Oh, God.

Brown: When I started in the industry I was in the millions.

Ryder: It's been overwhelming but in a really great way. I was actually sort of suspicious at first. I'd never experienced anything like it. It's been a long time since I've been in something that was getting so much attention. And back then it was a different kind of attention. We'd stay up all night and wait for the three papers, and have someone read them first, like, "Is it OK?"

When you both signed on, you only had one episode to go off of?

Ryder: Yeah. But I'm suspect - they had to have written more, right? Can you get a show with just one script? I don't know. A lot of friends of mine are on shows, or have been, and the one thing I remember when I first met with [creators, the Duffer twins] was thinking, "I don't want to find out some big dark secret that would make me go, 'I would've played it so differently!'" That's happened to a lot of friends of mine. [The Duffers] didn't tell me everything, but they told me enough. I said, "You have to let me know if there's something that would affect the way I play her." They were great in the way they helped me construct a backstory.

Brown: It's definitely hard to trust someone with your character. They're two brothers, they're so young, but I had no idea they're geniuses. They're literally geniuses.

Ryder: They've never been tested to find out if they're fraternal or identical. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.