The Screen Actors Guild awards are important for a number of reasons, including being an excellent purveyor of what’s to come at the Oscars, but it’s not usually known for being overly entertaining.
Last night proved to be an exception, though. After Stranger Things won the award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series, actor David Harbour (Chief Jim Hopper) gave a powerful speech condemning President Trump’s recent immigration ban, which refused entry to citizens of seven majority muslim countries. While Harbour’s speech earned attention in its own right, it was co-star Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers) who became the talk of the evening for her various facial expressions as she reacted to his speech.
The full video can be seen above, but it’s much better viewed in GIF form. At first, Ryder seems surprised with where Harbour’s going. As he continues to denounce the ban, however, Ryder’s positive and powerful reaction — including a tiny fist bump toward the end — captivated viewers and caught the adoration of everyone watching.
Below is a minute-long video (about half the time of Harbour’s speech) focused entirely on Ryder’s reaction to what her co-star was saying.
Harbour started his speech by admitting that with all of the events occurring in the news, it was difficult to focus on something like an award show celebrating “the already celebrated Stranger Things.” Harbour added, however, that having an award voted upon by their peers honoring their work meant the world to him, and inspired him to do better. The full speech can be read below.
I would like to say that in light of all that’s going on in the world today, it’s difficult to celebrate the already-celebrated Stranger Things. But this award from you, who take your craft seriously and earnestly believe like me that great acting can change the world, is a call to arms from our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper and through our art to battle against fear, self-centeredness, and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture, and through our craft to cultivate a more empathetic and understanding society by revealing intimate truths that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that when they feel broken and afraid and tired, they are not alone. 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. Now, as we act in the continuing narrative of Stranger Things, we 1983 Midwesterners will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no hope. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters, and when we are at a loss amidst the hypocrisy and casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will as per Chief Jim Hopper punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalized. We will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy. We thank you for this responsibility. Thank you
Harbour wasn’t the only actor to use his time on stage to speak out against Trump’s ban, either. Veep’s Julia-Louis Dreyfus, Hidden Figures Taraji P. Henson, Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali and Lifetime Achievement recipient Lily Tomlin all condemned the ban, calling the move un-American. Entertainment groups, including the voting body behind the Oscars, have spoken out against Trump’s ban, arguing that members of the film community may be denied entry into the United States because of the order. Oscar-nominated director Asghar Farhadi, who is Iranian, will not be able to attend the Oscars ceremony because of the 90-day ban.
Through a combination of the context of Harbour’s speech aned Ryder’s uncensored reaction, the moment became sensationalized. It wasn’t long after the speech ended for Ryder’s many facial expressions to become a trending topic on Twitter, with journalists and audience members asking numerous questions. Others referred to Ryder’s various looks as a perfect summary of the year thus far.
My year so far in a series of stills of Winona Ryder's face. pic.twitter.com/OiyOYAwia3— kelsey gamble (@kelseygambles) January 30, 2017
The next time Ryder could take the stage is at the Emmy’s this fall. But while award shows may not see another moment like Ryder’s on-stage appearance, with the Oscars just a few weeks away, powerful speeches like Harbour’s are almost certain to occur again and again.