Natalia Dyer has made her name playing Nancy, the intelligent, considerate, and relentlessly curious teenager in Stranger Things, who works to solve the mystery of what happened to her best friend. Now, in the new film Long Nights Short Mornings, Dyer plays a character who's the total opposite of Nancy Wheeler. "She’s definitely fiery," Dyer tells me about Marie, adding that personality-wise, she feels "much closer to Nancy than Marie, for sure."
A brash teenager who appears at a bar with a fake I.D., Marie is certainly a change from the Stranger Things character associated with Dyer. Long Nights, currently available on iTunes and VOD, is structured as a series of vignettes, with protagonist James (Shilo Fernandez) encountering a series of women in his life, all of whom with he has various romantic relationships. When it feels like perhaps one too many of those encounters end with him getting, in the short term, what he wants, then comes Dyer's Marie. Her role in the film is small but pivotal because, as Dyer notes, "you do kind of want him to wake up and get the picture." Dyer says she had "a blast" getting into character and shooting her scenes as Marie, saying, "It was like a big club dance party for a couple days. It was a lot of fun to film."
Definitely not like those dark, mystery-filled plots of Stranger Things, that's for sure. Long Nights stands out on its own, though, for being centered on a man yet focusing more on the stories of several unique and individual women. "It’s very much from this kind of womanizing man’s point of view," Dyer says. "Yet you encounter a lot of strong and different females and just get glimpses into who they are, and who they are in relation to this guy." Indeed, while James is the anchoring character and gets the most screen time, it's the lives and personalities of the talented women that keep the viewer engaged.
And Dyer says she's excited to get to take on that type of role. "The fun of being an actor is just getting to delve into completely different personalities from your own," she explains. She filmed Long Nights Short Mornings before she was involved with Stranger Things and she says that the project, as well as other films she's worked on such as 2014's I Believe In Unicorns, "helped me kind of grow a little bit more into my craft."
Dyer adds that her biggest career goal is to keep being involved with projects that allow her to play diverse characters and tell important stories. The movies and shows that stick out to her, she says, are the ones that succeed in "showing different facets of humanity and different layers and breaking down stereotypes and biases." Her career thus far has highlighted this consideration, from the edgy and confident Marie to the caring and unshakably driven Nancy. Fortunately, with Stranger Things' success and the joy with which those in the cast talk about their experiences on set — "I can’t speak highly enough about the people I get to work with," Dyer says — fans can expect this actor to be sticking around on our televisions, at least, for a while.
But even beyond the Netflix smash hit, Dyer hopes that she'll be acting for a very long time. "I don’t think I’ll ever stop. It’s one of those things that you can’t really stop once it’s part of you," she says. At just 20 years old, Dyer has a long career ahead of her, and this is just the very exciting beginning.