Second helpings of Stranger Things

As the excitement mounts for the new series of Netflix’s sci-fi hit, Natalia Dyer tells Lucy Mapstone how she’s looking forward to turning her world upside down again

“I DON’t like scary movies, that’s not my genre,” Natalia Dyer admits with a chuckle, clearly enjoying the irony of her own confession.

It’s just a week before Dyer is set to return to screens in the second season of Stranger Things, one of the most successful sci-fi-cum-horror TV offerings in recent years.

Recalling how her friends were too frightened to stick out the first season, Dyer says: “It was really funny because I had some of my close friends be like, ‘look girl, like, I love you — I tried to watch it and after the first episode I couldn’t, it was too scary!’

“I don’t like horror or thrillers, but I guess being behind the scenes of it all, I didn’t really get that element. I have a very different perspective of it.”

In spite of her own feelings about terrifying TV, Dyer hopes the new season scares people even more than the first.

The 20-year-old actress is chatty and refreshingly honest about working on Stranger Things, especially when talking about being thrust into the limelight as a result of the show’s enormous, and somewhat unexpected, success.

Referring to both herself and the young ensemble cast, Dyer admits: “It’s been absolutely life-changing, for real. We had no idea that that was going to be the reaction and what it was going to do to our lives — our careers, our day-to-day lives.”

A note of wonderment in her voice, Dyer — who previously had small roles in Hannah Montana: The Movie and adventure film The Greening Of Whitney Brown — adds: “It’s still so crazy to think about it, I haven’t really got used to it. I don’t know if I will!”

When Stranger Things, created by Matt and Ross Duffer (known as the Duffer Brothers) debuted on Netflix in July 2016, it initially seemed the series would be more of a cult-style
offering.

But it quickly became clear that this was something much bigger.

Set in the 1980s against the backdrop of fictional town Hawkins and accompanied by a stellar nostalgia-laden soundtrack, Stranger Things tells the tale of the disappearance of 12-year-old Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) and how his friends and unsettled mother Joyce — superbly portrayed by Winona Ryder — try to find him.

Stranger Things captured the imagination of the global audience in an instant, spawning frenzied online chatter as fans tore open theories about the creepy underworld known as the Upside Down and its monster, dubbed the Demogorgon.

Within a few weeks of the eight- episode series being made available on the streaming service, it was reported to have become one of Netflix’s most successful original programmes, trumping its other shows Jessica Jones and House Of Cards.

And then there were the accolades. The nominations and wins came thick and fast throughout awards seasons, with Stranger Things winning a handful of Emmys and the Screen Actors Guild award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series, among others.

Quite simply, Stranger Things became a pop culture phenomenon, and Dyer’s character Nancy Wheeler — the stereotypical all-American schoolgirl older sister to Will’s best friend Mike who gets sucked into the whole terrifying affair — only adds to the show’s appeal.

Looking ahead, fans are desperate to know what they can expect in season two, which kicks off one year after the events of the first, in 1984 around Halloween, and the residents of Hawkins are struggling to come to terms with the horrors they went through. Speaking of how Nancy in particular is battling to cope, particularly after the death of her best friend Barb (Shannon Purser), Dyer says: “We pick up kind of when things start clicking for Nancy. And she finally maybe thinks enough is enough.”

Dyer wholeheartedly backs the ‘Justice for Barb’ movement, created by fans who believe Barb’s shocking death at the hands of the Demogorgon did not get enough air-time.

“It’s a big deal, it was kind of crazy this whole Justice for Barb thing after season one, but it’s a huge part of Nancy’s storyline,” Dyer explains.

“She definitely feels responsible... she lost her best friend and there’s nothing she really could have done.”

Another major part of Nancy’s storyline was the love triangle between herself, Will’s older brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) and popular guy Steve Harrington (Joe Keery).

Will there be more made of that in season two?

Hesitating slightly, Dyer replies coyly: “Potentially!”

She adds, her answer brief and yet sumptuously loaded: “That’s one thing I think fans will be excited about.”

We’ll just have to wait and see, then.

Stranger Things 2 arrives on Netflix on Friday, October 27.


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