Winona Ryder, 80’s TV Mom on Stranger Things, Is a Superfan of Keri Russell, 80’s TV Mom on The Americans
“I think Keri Russell is just mind-blowing.”
When she was a teenager in the 80’s just like Eleven, Mike, Dustin, and the rest of the gang, Winona Ryder was everywhere just the way the young stars of Stranger Things are now. Ryder owned the decade with iconic parts in films like Beetlejuice and Heathers, and didn’t do too bad in the 90’s either, with two Oscar nominations for The Age of Innocence and Little Women (while adding to her long list of cult favorites, with Edward Scissorhands and Reality Bites). Along the way, she became a style icon as well, with her pixie-ish hair, undaunted individuality, and ageless innocence. Now, she has re-entered the zeitgeist with, ironically, a very 80’s TV show on a very modern platform. Before the return of season 2 of Stranger Things on Netflix on October 27, Ryder, who plays a very anxious mother on the series, talks the age of streaming—and reveals that she, a former TV neophyte, has actually turned into a bit of a TV buff.
What’s the first movie you auditioned for?
Desert Bloom, with Ellen Barkin. And I didn’t get the part. My first part was in a movie called Lucas.
And you were great. Did you get the bug right away?
Yeah. I did get the bug right away. I love being on set. I loved being around cameras and, you know, learning all of that stuff. I bought a book called Camera and Its Techniques; it was almost like a textbook, and I would always ask the cameramen to explain things to me. I was always very fascinated with that, but I never wanted to direct or anything. I just loved movies.
What movie makes you cry?
Oh, many, many movies make me cry. I’m kind of a softie that way. The movie that made me cry that I remember was, All Quiet on the Western Front and The Bridge on the River Kwai. I cried a lot in movies about war.
Because of the war, or…?
[Sighs.] Because of the story and because, you know, probably every element mixed in. My grandfather died in World War II… yeah. Uh, I’m trying to imagine that situation. And that’s what movies do is they bring you into the story. The war movies made me cry.
So let’s talk about Stranger Things, which you’re brilliant in. How did they first approach you about it?
Um, gosh, I wish I had a more interesting or exciting story. But I was sent the script and I’d had one experience in television, a HBO miniseries called Show Me a Hero. I had a small part, but I really wanted to work with David Simon. But I really didn’t know much about the world of television; I just knew that it was becoming incredibly interesting and much more like film than films. [Laughter.] But you know, I met with them. I really only was given a [script of the] pilot episode. We had a good meeting and I sort of took the leap. It’s been sort of overwhelming with the reaction. I don’t think any of us were prepared, but it’s been really amazing. To work with the really incredibly talented young actors has been great.
And when will the second season air—or, excuse me, streams.
Yeah, I know! Right? That’s so confusing to me… But I mean, binge watching is incredibly dangerous and addictive. I’ve fallen victim to it. It’s especially wonderful if you’re injured and you’re sitting around and you can just, you know. And there’s certain shows that have cliffhangers and then you can just cut to two to three days later—you can’t tear yourself away. I also fell into the trap of watching shows that I thought were still on, but actually weren’t.
So you thought there was more of episodes and then…
Yeah, I was like, “What happens next?” Yeah.
[Laughs.] That’s cute. You’re becoming a TV buff.
Well, my favorite show is The Americans. I love it. I think it’s brilliant. It’s just staggering. I think Keri Russell is just mind-blowing, and all of the actors are so good. What I did, because I had to get a season pass from iTunes, because, you know, it was once a week. This last season I purposely didn’t watch, so when I was on the plane I would get to watch. That was exciting. But then crushing when it ended, because I don’t know what’s going to happen.
I think next year is the last season.
Oh, god. I don’t know what I’ll do. I think it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I met [Keri Russell] and I was like, [Gasps.]: “What’s happening with Paige?” I completely turned into a, um, yeah. But everyone has to keep things a big secret, which I’m learning.
So do you have a first kiss story?
It was on one of those little spinny things at the playground. I was on it with my first sort of sweetheart in school. It was at night. We actually weren’t in elementary school. We were a little bit older, it was across the street from my house, so we went into the playground and we got on there and had our—my first kiss. I don’t know if it was his.
Were you nervous?
Yes. I was nervous. I didn’t quite know how it worked. I went to school with him and he was probably the only boy who paid any attention to me in school, ever. He was sort of my first sweetheart.
That’s so romantic. Do you have a secret skill?
Um, I used to be on a skateboarding team.
Yep, and I also am very good with a yo-yo.
Royals 2017: Why Pharrell Williams, Winona Ryder, Tracee Ellis Ross and More Are the Role Models of Today
Winona Ryder wears Fendi dress; Angela Friedman bra; M&S Schmalberg brooch; Fogal tights; Gucci shoes. Beauty: Chantecaille.
Tilda Swinton wears Loewe jacket, shirt, and pants. Beauty: Chanel.
Hailee Steinfeld wears Valentino dress. Beauty: Maybelline.
Tracee Ellis Ross wears Vetements dress. Beauty: Lâncome.
Saoirse Ronan wears Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello shirt and pants. Beauty: Nars.
Chris Hemsworth wears Boss shirt and pants; his own belt and necklace. Grooming: Hugo Boss.
Pharrell Williams wears Sacai shirt; Bulgari necklace (top); his own necklace. Grooming: Giorgio Armani.
Robert Pattinson wears Dior Homme turtleneck; Haider Ackermann pants. Grooming: Dior Homme.
James Corden wears Ann Demeulemeester shirt and hat. Grooming: Neutrogena.
Jared Leto wears Gucci jacket, shirt, and pants; M&S Schmalberg brooch; Artemas Quibble belt. Grooming: Gucci.
New Royalty: Movie Star
My first kiss was on set. It was my very first film as well. My character really liked this boy, and she didn’t know if he noticed her. In the end she got to kiss him. At that time, I was only 11 years old, and not ready to kiss a boy. I asked the director, “How long do you want me to kiss him? How many seconds?” And the director said, “Three seconds.” So while kissing, I counted in my head. Every single take I was like, One, two, three. And then: “Okay, kill, cut!” I definitely suffered for art.
Ronan wears a Louis Vuitton top, cape, and shoes; Falke tights.
Classic Royalty: Movie Star
Is there anything that scares you? I’m not easily scared, and I’m wary of being bored. I think risk-taking is a subjective thing. One person’s risk is another one’s comfort zone. And, to be honest, I’m too lazy to get easily scared. Maybe I’ve got a bit of my brain missing, but I love not knowing what I’m doing next. What about when it comes to clothes? Did you always have a fashion-forward outlook? Again, what somebody might think of as unusual is, to me, supercomfortable, inspiring, and interesting. I’ve never truly been that aware of fashion; I’m interested in style.
Swinton wears a Haider Ackermann shirt; Alexander Calder necklace from Stephen Russell, New York.
New Royalty: Renaissance Person
Where do you get your ideas? The shower is a frequent place. Actually, near any running water—whether it’s the faucet or the shower. And sometimes I get ideas on a plane because of the sound deprivation.
Do you record your ideas on your phone? I just hold on to them. The best way to remember something is if you home in on the excitement. That you don’t forget.
Is there a song that makes you cry? It’s been maybe 10 years since I heard something that made me cry. There is an old Donny Hathaway song called “Take a Love Song,” and it would make me emotional. But I think I was eating a lot of weed candy at the time, so that may have pushed me over the edge.
Whom do you consider Royal? Wes Anderson. I love what he does. Bill Murray running from a playground in Rushmore made me very happy. Anderson’s composition is amazing: his color, the music that he uses. I’m not an actor, but, in a heartbeat, I would just walk by or whatever he asked me to do in one of his films.
Williams wears a Chanel jacket and necklace; G-Star pants; Adidas Originals = Pharrell Williams shoes; his own shirt, belt, bracelets, ring, watch, and socks.
Classic Royalty: Renaissance Person
When did you start dancing? When I was 3. I loved it. I did recitals and I loved being onstage. I particularly loved the collective mind of the audience. Applause was nice, but I liked the silence of the audience better. The silence means, Oh, my! You have their rapt attention.
MacLaine wears an Akris turtleneck.
Classic Royalty: Activist
I came to New York in the ’70s to become president of Planned Parenthood. It was a time of great difficulty for the city—and for the country—but also one when women made tremendous progress toward being in control of their lives and their bodies. My position allowed me to be a spokesperson for women in the midst of the great changes that were taking place and the turmoil that occurred as a result of them. Today, 40 years later, the continuing opposition to Planned Parenthood comes from people who want to roll back the clock.
Wattleton wears a Row coat; Vhernier earrings; Verdura necklace.
New Royalty: Activist
When I was 11, my parents gave me an iPhone. I think it shaped who I am as a person because I had access to everything very, very early on. But now I’m 18 and I have gotten rid of it. I was worried about the mental-health effects it was having on me. The phone was taking over my life. I felt like I was floating away, and part of that had to do with being in a virtual world without any tangible substance. I felt like I was always refreshing Instagram instead of refreshing my life.
Stenberg wears a Prada top; Buccellati earrings.
New Royalty: Renaissance Person
To me, Paula Abdul is royalty. I just saw her live, and the whole time I was watching her, I was hitting the person next to me and saying, “Oh. My. God. Yes!” I’m late to the game, but Paula Abdul is completely amazing.
Steinfeld wears an Yves Salomon coat; Nili Lotan dress; Mahnaz Collection ring; Lynn Ban earring.
New Royalty: Renaissance Person
There were eight boys in The History Boys, and we were all at a similar point in our careers. The other seven would get incredible scripts for Spielberg movies or big HBO shows, and I would get a one-page script for the guy who drops off a TV for Hugh Grant. I remember thinking, These decisions are being made based on the way I look. I realized then and there that I needed to try and start creating stuff on my own. And I did.
Corden wears a Berluti jacket; Burberry shirt; Balenciaga scarf.
New Royalty: Society
The notion of being born into the right stratosphere no longer exists. More and more, young people want to dedicate their lives to doing something meaningful that has a positive effect on the world. That’s what is valued now—not your name or your lineage.
Bush Lauren wears a Ralph Lauren shirt; Zimmerli of Switzerland tank; Hermès scarves; Vicki Turbeville earrings; vintage bracelet from Stazia Loren, New York.
Classic Royalty: Society
You got involved with God’s Love We Deliver during the ’80s AIDS epidemic. It was a terrible time. We delivered meals to people who were sick. A lot of my friends thought I had lost my mind. There was so much fear.
How did you meet Robert Trump? At a fundraiser. We were married in 1984. But years later things changed, and, in 2007, we divorced.
Did you go to your former brother-in-law’s presidential inauguration? Yes. It was kind of an out-of-body experience. [Laughs] It’s like, Am I really here? I went to all the balls, and there was a wonderful small lunch, and Donald and Melania were there. She looked beautiful.
Is it strange to see your last name everywhere? Yes—very, very strange. I mean, forget paying with a credit card. It’s always, “Are you related?” It never ends.
Trump wears a Chloé dress; David Webb earrings.
New Royalty: Model
I always go into a zone when I’m posing for a photographer. I like to try and get into whatever character is wanted for the photos. For this shoot, I tried to be kind of vulnerable and soft because I can be quite hard with my resting bitch face. I wanted to look innocent, but mysterious. And royal. Very royal.
Aboah wears a Calvin Klein 205W39NYC dress; Stephen Russell earrings; Vhernier bracelets; her own rings.
Classic Royalty: Model
What is your secret skill? Fucking.
Fucking? Mm-hmmm. It’s an awfully good thing to be good at, no? And it goes on forever, guys and girls. You should remember that.
Hutton wears a Row coat.
Classic Royalty: Superhero
My first audition was for some random sort of commercial. I remember walking in and having to tell them about myself, and none of it was very interesting because I never got those jobs. My first regular acting gig was on a soap opera called Home and Away. I did that for three and a half years, and I went through every melodramatic tragedy that one can go through: plane crashes, fires, robberies, landslides. I had three different kids with three different women. And my character was 19 for three years. I never had a birthday. Never aged.
Hemsworth wears a Boss jacket, shirt, and pants; Western Spirit bolo tie; stylist’s own belt.
New Royalty: Superhero
I don’t fuck with karaoke. I tried it once, and it was the biggest disaster. The song I bombed on was “Eye of the Tiger.” It was at a wedding, in front of hundreds of people. The only line of the song that I knew was “eye of the tiger,” so I just mumbled, and it was awful. Deep shame. Now I stick to singing my own songs onstage with my band, Thirty Seconds to Mars. There are some things you just know you’re not good at.
Leto wears an Ann Demeulemeester shirt; Gucci pants; Mikimoto pearls; his own ring and necklace.
New Royalty: Television
As a boy, I was very, very sensitive. Ever the emotional young thing. In eighth grade, a drama teacher put me in a play, and I got really involved with theater. Within a year, all the kids who were making fun of me were my allies. I remember thinking, Instead of being a weird guy in the corner of the classroom, now I’m the weird guy that everyone has to pay attention to! And, like, Wow—maybe someone will kiss me!
Middleditch wears a Prada shirt; Coach 1941 pants; Artemas Quibble belt; Calvin Klein 205W39NYC boots.
Classic Royalty: Television
Since signing on to Stranger Things, I’ve become a binge-watcher of TV. My favorite show is The Americans. It’s brilliant, and Keri Russell is just mind-blowing. I watched the entire last season all at once, and I was crushed when it ended. I met Keri, and I was like, “What’s going to happen?!” I had turned into a fan-geek. But she wouldn’t tell me. Everyone in TV has to keep things a big secret—which I’m learning.
Ryder wears a Dior dress and hat.
New Royalty: Movie Star
I didn’t think I could play Dr. Dre in Straight Outta Compton. I was asked to audition, and I remember saying no because I didn’t want to be the one to mess it up. I was nervous because it was Dr. Dre. And now, after the film, I walk down the street and people ask, “Is that Dr. Dre?” Nobody did that before Compton. Now everybody does it.
Hawkins wears a Giorgio Armani jacket, shirt, and pants; Tom Ford shoes.
Classic Royalty: Movie Star
What was your first acting job? When I was 15 or 16, I was cast as Reese Witherspoon’s son in the film Vanity Fair. I went to the screening, and no one had informed me that I had been cut from the film. But the casting director felt so guilty that she gave me a first run at the part of Cedric in Harry Potter, which I booked. So, in the end, I was quite glad to have been cut from Vanity Fair.
How did you prepare for your role as a bank robber on the run in Good Time? I stayed in character for several days and got a job at a car wash. I wanted to change myself so that people would not be able to recognize me for the whole shoot. And it worked. We were filming in a packed subway at rush hour; I was directed by text message, and no one could tell we were making a movie. Not one person took a cell-phone picture, which would have ruined the whole thing. It was great to not be recognized.
Pattinson wears a Berluti jacket; Charvet scarf.
Classic Royalty: Television
After Everybody Loves Raymond ended, it wasn’t hard to say no to other sitcom offers. This sounds awful, but I had all the money I needed, my wife had all the money she needed, and creatively I wanted to do other things. I thought, Suddenly I have time, I have money, I have a bit of fame, and this is going to be fun. After three months, it wasn’t fun anymore. I had a kind of emotional breakdown until I started creating the next show. People ask me sometimes, “How do you keep going?” And I like to say, “I have to keep moving, or I catch up with myself.”
Romano wears a Balenciaga shirt.
New Royalty: Television
Your mom is Diana Ross. Did you ever borrow her clothes? I’m not going to lie: It was more like stealing. One time, she left the house and I saw her car go down the driveway. I marched myself into her bathroom and started taking clothes. I liked to put them in my closet and live with them as if they were mine. Just as I was loading up, my mom walked into the bathroom. She said, “What are you doing?!” I was like, “I’m organizing your closet for you!” To this day, I visit her closet and call it shopping.
Ross wears an Alexander McQueen dress; Gianvito Rossi shoes.
On the skateboarding team, were you doing stunts?
Yeah. I mean, I was very young. And this was back before skateboarding was what it is now, or what it became. It was street skating, so it was, like, in swimming pools and stuff. I think I was just very little, so I was somehow able to do it—but I’ve said before I think I would make a terrific bystander.
Yeah. Like someone who just watches things happen. [Laughter.] Then, like, I can tell other people what happened. If anyone needed a bystander I’m available.
[Laughs] That’s very charming. So, do you remember going to the Oscars? You were nominated several times.
Twice. I remember I had a lot more fun the second time [for 1995’s Little Women].
You looked beautiful. I loved that dress. And I love that you didn’t have a stylist and you looked amazing. You had original style of your own.
Oh, thank you.
When they called your name did you get nervous?
The first time I did [for 1994’s Age of Innocence], just because I’d never been in room like that or anything. The second time was for Little Women and it was very clear that I wasn’t going to win, so it was much more fun and much more relaxing and not so much nerves. It can be quite stressful when everyone is telling you… I don’t know. I know people make jokes about that whole, “Oh, it’s an honor to be nominated.” But I really actually think there’s a lot of truth in that, you know.
I agree. But now you have the Emmys.
[Laughter.] There are so many of these award shows it’s crazy.
Do you have a karaoke song?
I’ve never done karaoke.
You’ve never done karaoke?
No. It came sort of after I would ever put myself in a position to get up in front of… actually, I was in Copenhagen once when it just had started. I didn’t even know what it was called and there was a restaurant and there was a machine and it was completely empty and I went up and fiddled around, but I didn’t, uh, do it. I didn’t do it. Yeah, I’ve never done that. I don’t think I’d be very good at that.
Can you sing?
Interviewee: Uh, I… umm… I don’t know. [Laughs.]
Related: Everything We Know About Stranger Things Season 2 (So Far)
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