For many, Winona Ryder will always be the gothic emo kid at the heart of Tim Burton’s macabre comedy classic “Beetlejuice” — but she’s appeared in a host of other films since then, enough to keep her in the public consciousness for more than 30 years. Like Mickey Rourke and Matthew McConaughey, she’s another name on this list that hasn’t had a period where she’s completely disappeared from cinemas. However, like many actors, Ryder has experienced various highs and lows while waiting for the perfect role to materialize.
Thankfully, that perfect role rolled around in 2016, with Netflix’s mega-hit “Stranger Things.” She plays Joyce Byers, the concerned mother of Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), the poor kid who’s been swallowed up by the sinister Upside Down in the show’s first season. Strong, resilient, and resourceful, audiences relished watching her harness the power of Christmas lights in order to communicate with her son who was trapped in an otherworldly realm. Three seasons later, it’s still a role that Ryder is continuing to pursue and will presumably conclude with the show’s reportedly final fifth season.
Having Ryder around in a show full of young kids is handy too, especially considering the knowledge she has to share about growing up in Hollywood. “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,” show co-creator Ross Duffer told Harper’s Bazaar. “I think she’s really helped them.”