In 2016, Americans and beyond were terrified by a looming, evil presence on their television screens… And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump at the presidential debates, but rather the diabolical “Demogorgon” on Netflix’s runaway smash hit, Stranger Things—the show we all binge-watched (and rewatched) this year.
Hearkening back to the nostalgic Steven Spielberg-era family horror of the ‘80s, Stranger Things became, ironically, the least strange and most comforting escape in a world gone mad when it premiered on the streaming service over the summer. Its cast of endearing, relatable kids anchored the show’s otherwise dark and conspiratorial premise with a sense of levity and heart. Natalia Dyer was one of those kids—or rather, teenager.
Playing Nancy Wheeler, the high school-aged big sis to Mike, the Eleven-crushin’, Dungeons and Dragons player trying to unravel the mystery of his disappeared friend, Dyer’s character started off as the typical vision of any early ‘80s cinematic coming-of-age teen girl: an eye-rolling, boy obsessed princess caught between the worlds of popularity and authentic friendship. Facing incredible danger, however, Nancy quickly evolved into one of the show’s most badass feminist players alongside Winona Ryder’s desperate, relentless Joyce Byers and Millie Bobby Brown’s fierce fan-favorite Eleven.
Below, the Nashville-bred, New York-based actress and I converse about what it was like landing her life-changing gig, getting caught up on ‘80s cinema (a decade she never personally experienced), learning how to navigate the industry with grace thanks to a certain iconic co-star, and, of course, justice for Barb.