Did you eyeball-gobble Stranger Things? If not, you need to get on that, because your friends are going to drive you crazy with SPOILERS.
The Netflix original series is a master class in walking the line between nostalgia and originality. Set in 1983, it stars Winona Ryder sporting a Karen Silkwood wig, wisecracking nerd kids just like in Stand By Me, a terrifying monster equal parts '80s horror and Guillermo del Toro, a strange and wonderful girl named Eleven with a Furiosa haircut, and music that evokes classic vintage synth and electro scores from the '70s and '80s while bringing something new to the table.
All these things aside, the biggest reason to watch Stranger Things is the stellar cast, who bring the rich characters to life perfectly. The kids make the series, and it’s no accident they're great actors. Even though they're young, you’ll be surprised where you've seen the Stranger Things cast in other roles. Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson) and Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair) are Broadway vets. Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) has already knocked ‘em dead on BBC. Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler) has appeared in two beloved sci-fi series, making impressions in both.
And come on, just seeing ‘80s stars Ryder and Matthew Modine together is enough to warm the heart. Ryder was in many iconic films and was an icon herself. She was the white hot real-life love interest and tattoo-inspirer of Johnny Depp. Perhaps ironically, her most iconic role is from an iconoclastic film - Heathers. Modine was an intense heartthrob who shimmered from the silver screen in Married to the Mob, Full Metal Jacket, and Vision Quest.
So where have you seen Stranger Things actors on other shows? Let’s slip into the wall and do the blinky Christmas light roll call.
Stranger Things role: Joyce Byers
Ah, Winona. How we’ve loved you. She’s been an ‘80s icon, a notorious necklace-nabbing gangster, and a tattoo on Johnny Depp’s arm. She’s grabbed her fair share of the silver screen with Girl Interrupted, Beetlejuice, Reality Bites, Mermaids, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Edward Scissorhands. Unlike a lot of youthful stars, Ryder aged gracefully, playing characters her own age in Star Trek and Black Swan, and did a few stints in gleefully trashy b-movies like The Iceman and Homefront.
But let’s celebrate her for one of her most outstanding roles, as Veronica in Heathers, the movie that gave us the phrase “Well, f*ck me gently with a chainsaw.” BTW, fun fact, Winona's hair in Stranger Things is modeled after Meryl Streep's in Silkwood, which came out in the year in which the show takes place.
Stranger Things role: Dr. Martin Brenner
Matthew Modine is a Richard Gere-esque silver fox in Stranger Things, but back in the day, he was a hearthrob. Married to the Mob, Full Metal Jacket, or Vision Quest, anyone? He was also in Short Cuts, Any Given Sunday, The Dark Knight Rises, Weeds, Transporter 2, and one of the biggest box office disasters of all time, Cutthroat Island.
But lets take a feathered peek at his performance in 1984’s Birdy, shall we? Modine plays a Vietnam vet who’s wartime experiences push him over the edge, and he becomes convinced he's turning into a bird.
Stranger Things role: Eleven
In her short career, Millie Brown has racked up quite a few TV credits, including Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, NCIS, Modern Family, and Grey's Anatomy. Her portrayal of Eleven instantly connected with Netflix bingers. But she has been creepy, mysterious, and brilliant before. You must check her out in BBC’s Intruders.
Stranger Things role: Jim Hopper
David Harbour works a lot, thanks to his effortless ability to come across as an authority figure, bad guy, or both simultaneously. He’s appeared in Black Mass, Banshee, Manhattan, The Newsroom, Quantum of Solace, End of Watch, The Newsroom, Revolutionary Road, Brokeback Mountain, and played Dr. Kinsey in Kinsey. He had a standout role in The Equalizer as the corrupt cop to Denzel Washington’s vigilante.