Winona Ryder is no stranger to controversy. The Stranger Things star is making headlines for the bizarre faces she made during co-star David Harbour’s acceptance speech at the 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards. Ryder’s hilarious facial expressions—22 in all—were immortalized in fan-made GIFs after the Stranger Things cast won a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
— Charles St. Anthony (@kingcharles0921) January 30, 2017
While some viewers questioned Winona Ryder’s animated awards show stint, going so far as to speculate that she was drunk during the ceremony, Ryder’s teen co-star Gaten Matarazzo had another explanation for her now-viral reaction to Harbour’s speech.
“I think it’s just that she couldn’t hear what David was saying,” Matarazzo told TMZ. “I think we were all just so happy to be with each other, it was just a great time.”
Winona Ryder’s faces were all over the emotional spectrum as she seemingly tried to listen intently to Harbour’s rousing SAG Awards speech. Ryder looked happy, confused, pained, and every emotion in between as her co-star said things like: “We are united in that we are all human beings and we are all together on this horrible, painful, joyous, exciting and mysterious ride that is being alive.”
David Harbour later commented on Winona Ryder’s reaction to his speech, offering nothing but praise for his Netflix co-star.
“Her face is just so expressive,” the Stranger Things actor told Vanity Fair. “What an amazing quality. And it’s just so fun to have people — to have this kind of fiery speech, and then to have people also appreciate the silliness and the joy of just like a totally wonderful, sensitive, expressive actress. I love it.”
— Indy TV (@TheIndyTV) January 31, 2017
Winona Ryder has been vocal about the fact that she knows people think she is crazy. While she was a movie icon in the late 1890s and early 1990s, Winona’s public image took a hit after her 2001 arrest for shoplifting at Saks Fifth Avenue. In an interview with the Cut, Winona Ryder recounted a past interview she did that she now thinks may have changed people’s perception of her.
“I remember I did Diane Sawyer, and I talked about my experiences with anxiety and depression,” Ryder said. “And I think by doing that, maybe coupled with my physical size, there’s this ‘crazy’ thing. And I’ve realized recently it’s literally impossible to try and change that story.”
In the same interview, Ryder called out her Stranger Things character, Joyce Byers, for getting a similar rap.
“There’s a line in Stranger Things where someone says, ‘She’s had anxiety problems in the past,'” Winona said. “A lot of people have picked up on that, like, ‘Oh, you know, she’s crazy. ‘And I’m like, ‘OK, wait a second, she’s struggling. Two kids, deadbeat dad, working her a** off. Who wouldn’t be anxious?'”
Last summer, Winona Ryder talked to Time about her personal experiences as a young movie star in the 1990s.
“There were times where people might have seen me and said, ‘Wow, she’s so lucky,'” Ryder told Time. “But I was depressed, I was going through something. That time I went through led me to make Girl, Interrupted. Most girls go through that at around that age—20, 21.”
As for her renewed career on Stranger Things, which is set for a second season later this year, Winona Ryder said the faces she’s making on the Netflix smash hit are the real deal.
“I’m sort of old school in my approach to acting,” Ryder said.
“Like, if I have to cry, I have to really cry. I’m allergic to this thing they use [to help actors cry] if you literally run out of tears….I really have to go there mentally. Usually on a film there’s a couple of scenes, but this was my first time doing eight episodes of something, and let me tell you, crying all day—wow.”
Take a look at the video below to see David Harbour’s powerful Stranger Things speech and Winona Ryder’s full reaction.
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]