Winona Ryder Asked ‘What Is Netflix? What Is Streaming?’ in First ‘Stranger Things’ Meeting, Says Shawn Levy: ‘Is It Like TV but Different?’

Winona Ryder had some important questions when she first sat down to discuss a potential role in Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” Chief among them: What exactly is Netflix? Series director and executive producer Shawn Levy revealed Ryder’s initial inquiries during a recent interview on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast.

“She opened by asking, ‘What is Netflix? What is streaming? Is it like TV but different?’” Levy remembered. “That was the starting point… Yeah, Winona took a little onboarding to explain this emerging form of storytelling called Netflix and streaming.”

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Ryder would be cast in the series regular role of Joyce Byers. The show played a big part in revitalizing Ryder’s career; she’ll be back when “Stranger Things” starts filming its fifth and final season next year. Levy said “Stranger Things” Season 5 is an “epic in its cinematic scope.”

“But it’s very much ‘Stranger Things,'” he stressed. “I have to credit the Duffer Brothers. You read the outlines sometimes and it’s massive, but then you read the scripts and you remember again and again that their instinct for anchoring the epic in the intimate, and for anchoring the darkness of genre in the warmth of these characters, it’s so innate to them. Season 5 gets bigger in scale but doesn’t forget who or what it is.”

Production on “Stranger Things” Season 5 was impacted by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. While writing on the show has resumed following the end of the WGA strike, the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike means production is stalled.

“I can say with confidence I think every actor, director, producer, writer and crew member wants to get back to work,” Levy recently told Variety. “I think that ‘Stranger Things’ is a true flag-bearing franchise for Netflix’s brand and everyone there is also hungry to make the next season. However, none of that can happen unless there is a fair and equitable deal made.”

Levy is back on Netflix as the director of the four-part miniseries “All the Light We Cannot See,” based on Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name. The show streams Nov. 2 on the platform.

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