‘Stranger Things’: How Winona Ryder Gives Acting and Life Advice to Her Young Co-Stars

Winona Ryder’s career is far older than many of her Stranger Things co-stars. With films such as Lucas, Beetlejuice, Heathers, and Edward Scissorhands among her earliest works, Ryder found fame before she hit her 20s. She has some young co-stars who can relate. Actors such as Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, and Finn Wolfhard might not be old enough to know the historical inaccuracies in Stranger Things. Still, they’re old enough for Ryder to give them advice about handling fame and working in show business.

Winona Ryder (foreground) and Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, and Charlie Heaton in 'Stranger Things' Season 4. Acting veteran Ryder has given plenty of acting and life advice to her young co-stars on the show.
Winona Ryder (foreground) and Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton in ‘Stranger Things’ | Netflix

Winona Ryder’s early fame led to some challenging moments before ‘Stranger Things’

Ryder found fame early in her career with several fan-favorite movies. The Minnesota native collected two Oscar nominations — best supporting actress for The Age of Innocence and best actress for Little Women — by the mid-1990s. She established herself as a Hollywood legend early in her career, but it wasn’t all a fairy tale. 

Her high-profile relationship with Johnny Depp, their eventual split, and the gossip about it in Hollywood made her personal life challenging. 

“That was my Girl, Interrupted real life,” Ryder told Harper’s Bazaar, referring to the 1999 film she produced and starred in about a young woman in a psychiatric hospital. Ryder said the scrapes and cuts of her makeup from her 1993 movie The House of the Spirits reflected how she felt internally. 

Michelle Pfeiffer offered Ryder support during the shoot for The Age of Innocence, but it didn’t resonate with Ryder. ​​“I remember Michelle being like, ‘This is going to pass.’ But I couldn’t hear it.”

Pfeiffer’s wisdom didn’t mean much at the time, but now Ryder is paying it forward to her young Stranger Things co-stars.

RELATED: Why Winona Ryder Seemingly Vanished From Hollywood Until ‘Stranger Things’ Came Along 

The acting and life advice Ryder gives to her young ‘Stranger Things’ co-stars

The age difference between Ryder and the young stars of Stranger Things really is just a number. After all, she was once a young star with not one but several notable roles in high-profile projects.

Ryder survived the show business wringer, and she has some advice for the next generation, as she told Harper’s Bazaar. Her No. 1 pearl of advice? Enjoy Stranger Things’ success, but remember that the job should be the biggest reward.

“I want the kids to understand, this does not happen. 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.”

Winona Ryder’s advice for her Stranger Things co-stars

For what it’s worth, show creators Matt and Ross Duffer have seen her show her nurturing side multiple times.

“She’s 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,” Ross Duffer told Harper’s Bazaar. “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.”

In terms of acting advice, Matt Duffer said Ryder leads by example for her young Stranger Things castmates. “Winona brings it 100 percent every time,” he told Harper’s. “I think that makes a big difference to the other actors, especially when she’s working with the kids.”

Will the wisdom will keep coming with Stranger Things Season 5? Will Ryder and her young co-stars all survive?

When will Season 4, Volume 2 stream on Netflix, and who will survive for ‘Stranger Things’ Season 5?

Two questions about Stranger Things Season 4, Vol. 2, but just one decisive answer.

Vol. 2 follows Netflix tradition and starts streaming at midnight Pacific on July 1, 2022. The second part of Season 4 contains just two episodes, but both are movie-length, per Cosmopolitan. Episode 8 is nearly 1 hour, 30 minutes, while the season finale clocks in at 2 hours, 30 minutes.

As for who dies in Stranger Things Season 4? It’s all just speculation, but it seems someone won’t survive. 

Noah Schnapp teased deaths (plural) in the second part of Season 4. Some fans theorized Steve might kick the bucket after the bat bite; he made it to Vol. 2, but he’s not necessarily in the clear yet. Mason Dye (Jason Carver) just joined the cast for Season 4, but he got a sneak peek at Episode 8 and said “insane” is the only way to describe the final two episodes.

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