Natalia Dyer’s Stranger Things character, Nancy Wheeler, has come a long way over the show’s four seasons. When viewers first meet her, she is a mild-mannered high school student whose biggest concerns are her grades, her social standing, and her boyfriend. But in the show’s latest installment – which released in June – Nancy has slipped into full-fledged monster slayer mode, stalking Vecna in the Upside Down with a sawed-off shotgun. Despite all the upheaval, Nancy is grounded by boyfriend Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton), despite flirting with the possibility of resident heartthrob Steve Harrington (Joe Keery). Per TV Insider, there are quite a few fans who ship Nancy and Steve together.
Life mimics art for Dyer, who has been in an offscreen relationship with Heaton for almost as long as her on-screen counterpart. The couple got off to a soft start on each other’s Instagram accounts around 2016, though they didn’t make their official red carpet debut until December 2017. It’s clearly taken some time before they were able to share their romance with the public. “We didn’t really know what the relationship was,” Heaton told GQ in 2020. “The secrecy would have been unnecessary anyway.” At least showrunner Matt Duffer knew what was going on right away. “On that first audition, we did a chemistry read [Heaton and] Natalia, and the sparks flew,” he said. Speaking of which, how was it for Dyer working with her boyfriend on the show?
Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton share a special working relationship
Speaking to Us Weekly, Natalia Dyer praised her collaboration with Charlie Heaton on the set of Stranger Things. She said: “He’s great. It makes a lot of fun. Likewise, Heaton appreciates the fact that he can share things with Dyer because of their time together on the show. “Because we work in the same industry and had similar paths, we went through it together,” he explained to V Man. “Sharing this brings you closer together. You understand something that perhaps no one else would. You get into high-pressure situations together, but you can share those insecurities.”
Dyer and Heaton’s real-life romance appears to be rock solid (at the time of this writing), but their characters have gone through a rough patch in Season 4. When the Byers move to California, the couple breaks up – and despite their strong feelings for one, in another, Jonathan reconsiders his college plans without speaking to Nancy. Meanwhile, Nancy gets closer to Steve. But Dyer thinks it might be time for Nancy to take a break from the men in her life and focus on herself. “It’s really tough … It feels like she’s been in a relationship for a while, so maybe she needs some time to find herself,” the actor told Variety.
Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton face challenges
While Natalia Dyer gushed that working with Charlie Heaton was “awesome,” it’s still difficult to reconcile an on-set relationship with a personal relationship. The actor told Us Weekly that while the whole experience was “really a lot of fun,” there were “pros and cons” to working with Heaton. She didn’t specify those challenges, but it’s easy to imagine that fame can complicate any relationship. With “Stranger Things” breaking all sorts of records on Netflix and racking up more than 286 million hours of watch time over its premiere weekend, anonymity is a luxury Heaton and Dyer can’t afford. Another challenge could be the blurring of personal and private boundaries. While promoting Stranger Things season 3, both Dyer and Heaton admitted that maintaining boundaries can feel overwhelming. “We want [our characters] Having moments and those things, but I think sometimes we get confused and we’re like… between our own and the characters,” Heaton said, per People.
Speaking to Refinery29, Dyer chose to see the bright side of things. “It’s an interesting thing to work with someone you go home with,” she revealed. “It’s always really fun. We’re very comfortable with each other, so we can play and feel more free, and we can talk about it beforehand.” She also told the outlet that she doesn’t know when another opportunity like this will present itself, adding that this “could be [her] only chance to play like that.”