Winona Ryder has most recently been gracing the television screens on the hit Netflix series, Stranger Things. However, before becoming a television hit, she was only cast in film roles where she featured in many award-winning movies throughout her career. Winona has admitted to dealing with struggles and issues that she is still yet to overcome. Regardless of the trials and tribulations she may have faced over time, being a part of Stranger Things only proves her talent has not faded simultaneously. Here we uncover the hidden details of Winona Ryder and what the award-winning actress has been through before reaching where she is today. Sometimes the life of the rich and famous is not all it lives up to seem.
A Natural Blonde
Throughout her film career, Winona has mainly appeared as a brunette for all her character portrayals appearance. Other than her role in Edward Scissorhands, Ryder sports dark hair in both film and public, but this is not her natural coloring.
In fact, she is surprisingly a natural blonde and has been dying her hair brown since Lucas in 1986. Perhaps if she chose her natural coloring, people wouldn’t even recognize the actress having only been used to seeing her as a brunette for so many years.
Winona The Shoplifter
Winona may have started making her fortune from being a Hollywood actress, but somehow that wasn’t enough to prevent her from shoplifting $5,500 worth of clothes and accessories from Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue in 2001.
She was also not going to get away with it since the store security stopped her and she was later arrested by the LAPD. At this point, it was found that the actress was also in possession of illegal prescription drugs and was only released on bail for $20,000.
On November 6, 2002, Winona faced the consequences of her actions from the previous year, and she was found guilty of three charges – grand theft, shoplifting, and vandalism. She was not, however, charged with possession but was accused of abusing pills without prescriptions.
The outcome for Ryder was a sentence of three years probation, 480 hours of community service, restoration to Saks, and a fine. She was able to complete her community service by mid-2004, and her other felonies were reduced to misdemeanors.
Effect On Her Life And Career
While Winona likes to highlight “it wasn’t like the crime of the century,” the shoplifting incident still took its toll on the actress, and she decided to take a step back from work.
Although this halted her career, Winona expressed that it worked in her favor since it “allowed me time that I really needed.” In hindsight, however, we would like to think Winona would have just paid for the clothes and found the break from acting that she needed in some other way.
The Grammy-Nominated Winona Ryder
Before Winona knew it, she was being credited and awarded for her acting roles, making her a highly acclaimed actress. She received a nomination for Best Actress for her role in Little Women, after also being nominated for Supporting Actress from The Age of Innocence.
While she has yet to nominated for an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, or Tony, she was nominated for Best Spoken Word Album For Children after voicing the narrator in The Diary of A Young Girl (Anne Frank).
A Thing For Musicians
Although this was not her most high profile relationship, Winona did have a thing for musicians. It seemed as though a man who could serenade the actress ticked enough boxes to win her over.
She was famously linked to Foo Fighter frontman Dave Grohl, Ryan Adams, Adam Duritz, Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes, and Soul Asylum singer Dave Pirner. While none of these romances lasted between the singers and Ryder, she did manage to steal the hearts of many during their time together.
A Fear Of Water
Winona may be able to get into character when she is on screen, but filming some scenes in Alien: Resurrection was difficult for the actress. That is because, after a near-death drowning experience when she was 12, Winona developed aquaphobia – the fear of water.
While many may fear the ocean, aquaphobia is more a fear of smaller bodies of water, including bath-tubs. When it came to filming Alien: Resurrection, many of the underwater scenes had to be shot several times before Ryder could get through the scene completely.
The Tim Burton Connection
Winona Ryder may be associated with director Tim Burton, however, the duo has only worked together three times during their career. Ryder first worked with Burton in 1988 on the film Beetlejuice, which was also her first recognition-gaining role.
The second time was when Ryder starred alongside Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands in 1990. Since then, Winona would not work with Burton for 22 years. It was then in 2012 that Ryder lent her voice to Burton’s animated film, Frankenweenie, that the pair joined forces once again.
Her Own Notorious Godfather
On the topic of godfathers, Winona’s godfather is Timothy Leary, the well-known counterculture icon, and psychologist that explored the effects of psychedelic substances. Leary was known for his catchphrase, “turn on, tune in, drop out,” and was a close friend of Ryder’s parents.
Meanwhile, Ryder had a different relationship to the Leary that everyone knew. She said he would take her to baseball games and help her with her homework while, of course, maintaining to keep substance abusers away from her.
The Injury Bug
It seems that Winona Ryder is severely accident prone. While filming Girl, Interrupted, Winona injured her knee which meant filming was interrupted.
During filming for Mr. Deeds, Ryder and her co-star Adam Sandler would ride bikes down the staircase, and resulted in Ryder breaking her arm when it came to shooting the scene. Perhaps not entirely her fault, but she re-broke her arm when leaving the court following her shoplifting arrest after a TV camera bumped into her. Once again, perhaps shoplifting was not the best idea.
Rubbing Shoulders With A Beatle
When living on a commune with just seven families, it is the last place you would expect to meet one of the most famous people on earth. However, as a child living on this commune, Ryder had met John Lennon of all people!
He had joined her parents and their friends one evening after he was invited into the counterculture community. Little did Winona know her parents were connected with this community at the time, nor did she know who John Lennon was.
Her Agent Begged Her Not To Take A Role
After such success following Beetlejuice, Winona was ready to take on bigger roles and make her way in Hollywood. When Winona was offered the role of Veronica Sawyer in Heathers, her agent begged and pleaded for the actress not to take on the role.
Winona chose not to listen, and her agent even told her by taking this role she would never work again because of it. However, thirty years later, Winona is having the last laugh, still proving successful in Hollywood. Meanwhile, Winona no longer works with that agent.
Polly Klaas Activism
Winona wanted to be involved in the case for finding Polly Klaas, a young girl from her hometown who had gone missing. The actress offered a $200,000 reward for Klaas to be brought home safely, but she was later sadly found murdered.
Winona decided to dedicate her next film to the young girl, and with Little Women being one of Klaas’s favorite books, Ryder found this the perfect opportunity to be part of the film adaptation. Ryder is also still active in the Polly Klaas Foundation.
Jamiroquai’s Jay Kay is amongst the long list of Ryder’s musician boyfriends, and he shared some details on their brief time together.
He had revealed to FHM Magazine that during their time together, the rockstar could not keep up with Ryder’s insatiable appetite for being intimate. He also stated that he was looking for the love of his life, of which Ryder was not, and was not interested in messing about, so their relationship was not to work.
Catching Catcher In The Rye
When finding her own ways to keep entertained while growing up on the Rainbow commune, Ryder read J.D. Salinger’s novel, Catcher In The Rye, and it changed her life.
Without any electricity for the years she grew up on the commune, she read the book countless amount of times and has reportedly bought every edition of the book. The book soon became her bible and Ryder has remained to have a lifelong interest in Salinger and his works.
Former Best Friend Gwyneth
Although Winona had many relationships while in the public eye, not all her notorious relationships during the 90s were romantic. Her and fellow actress Gwyneth Paltrow became best friends and would often attend events together.
It was Paltrow who introduced Winona to Matt Damon, of who she then dated for some years. While that romantic relationship was not to last, nor was the ladies friendship. As their careers went in different paths, so did their friendship and they sadly grew apart.
A Contempt-Filled Ending?
Although their careers may have gone in different paths resulting in their friendship supposedly falling apart because of distance and time, many speculate otherwise about the ending of Paltrow and Ryder’s friendship.
It has been thought that Paltrow had swiped her Oscar-winning role in Shakespeare in Love from Ryder, which resulted in a feud between the pair. Paltrow has stated this is an urban legend but, she has also referred to a friend as “venomous, dangerous and hell-bent on taking me down,” so perhaps this is Ryder.
Sneaking In Screen Time
There was no electricity on the commune where Winona lived, but that doesn’t mean she was never able to watch a film every now and then.
With her mother having the control over operations in an old movie theater nearby, Winona would miss school to go with her mother to sit in on films. This would be Winona’s opportunity to watch what she would one day become, and perhaps missing school was not that much of a worry.
Dipping Into The Hollywood Pool
Winona dated Matt Damon for three years after being introduced by her former friend, Gwyneth Paltrow, in the late nineties. The famous couple decided to call it quits after Damon was linked to yet another actress, Penelope Cruz.
This was not the only leading man that Ryder was romantically linked to either, and following their break-up, she was then briefly with Jimmy Fallon. Meanwhile, she has also been linked to Tom Green, Charlie Sheen, Val Kilmer, Christian Slater, and Robert Downey Jr.
If It Works, Go Back For It
Winona Ryder appears alongside Keanu Reeves in their upcoming rom-com, Destination Wedding, and this will be the fourth time the pair have shared the screen. This includes A Scanner Darkly, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, and Dracula.
In fact, having appeared in the film Dracula together in 1992, it may appear that the two actually got married on set. While promoting their new film, Ryder recently confessed that the duo’s on-screen marriage in the film may have been the real deal.
While speaking to Entertainment Weekly, and reminiscing on the film they shot in Romania together 25 years ago, Ryder said, “We actually got married in Dracula. No, I swear to god I think we’re married in real life.
In that scene, Francis [Ford Coppola] used a real Romanian priest. We shot the master and he did the whole thing. So, I think we’re married.” This prompted Keanu to ask if they said yes, to which Ryder responded, “Don’t you remember that? It was on Valentine’s Day.”
Meeting Her First Love
It was then when she met actor Johnny Depp that she had found her true love. At just seventeen-years-old, Winona met Depp at the premiere of her film Great Balls of Fire!
Just as Ryder was infatuated with the 27-year-old actor, Depp had fallen for the young actress, telling People magazine, “There’s been nothing in my 27 years that’s comparable to the feeling I have with Winona.” Even with a ten year age gap, and Winona still in high-school, the talented duo hit it off.
Off To A Hot Start
Initially, Winona described Depp to be “really, really shy,” and they kept their first date reasonably casual at a friends house. Depp said, “We hung out the whole day….and night, and we’ve been hanging out ever since.”
At 17-years-old, this was Winona’s first boyfriend, and she was besotted with the talented actor. At this point in her life, Ryder was a rising star in Hollywood and had a gorgeous teen idol right beside her along for the ride.
A Quick Engagement
The romance was certainly a whirlwind, and after five months, Depp popped the question to Winona, and a month later they had moved in together.
Before their engagement, Depp was briefly married to makeup artist Lori Anne Allison and also twice engaged to Jennifer Grey and Sherilyn Fenn. Depp’s romantic past never seemed to bother Ryder, however, and she stated, “People assume it bothers me that he’s been engaged before, but it really doesn’t. We have a connection on a deeper level.”
A Long Engagement
While they may have got engaged after just five months, Winona and Johnny were not looking to rush their wedding date. They continued their relationship just as before and stretched out their engagement to foster their relationship and continue making a connection.
Even with a ten year age gap, Ryder’s parents were supportive of their daughter’s relationship and engagement to Depp. Their support was evident as well, and Ryder confessed that her parents loved him and would bring the couple breakfast in bed!
Lovers and Co-Workers
The pair got to even work together on Tim Burton’s 1990 film, Edward Scissorhands. Burton had brought in Ryder for the part of Kim Boggs, but the role of Edward Scissorhands was still unsure.
Production initially wanted Tom Cruise, but that did not work out, and Gary Oldman and Tom Hanks had turned down the part. Eventually, Depp was given the lucrative role, and this opportunity also saw him break away from his teen idol status while working alongside his favorite girl.
The couple became inseparable and could be seen arm in arm at every award show and premiere event during the early nineties. If that was not enough to keep Winona close by his side, Depp got a tattoo on his right arm saying “Winona Forever.”
Depp wanted to make his feelings clear by inking his body permanently with the star’s name. However, while the tattoo was a sweet gesture, it was also shortsighted since their relationship was not to last. Depp later changed the tattoo to “Wino Forever.”
Streaming? What is Streaming?
Winona has only ever starred in film during her career, that her current gig on Stranger Things is her first television role. The 80s themed Netflix hit is the first television role that Ryder has taken, let alone her first one exclusively streamed online.
However, when Ryder signed up for the show, producer Shawn Levy claims she had no idea what streaming even was. We hope she has discovered how to set up her own Netflix account so she can watch the show everyone is raving about!
Winona Is The Girl For The Job
Co-creators of Stranger Things, Matt and Ross Duffer, explained that casting Winona Ryder was “us missing seeing her on the big screen.” Moreover, Matt went onto say, “We have an amazing casting director, Carmen Cuba.
Her first idea for the show was Winona Ryder. I think we all, us and Shawn, immediately fell in love with that idea.” He continued, “When you cast Winona, she has this very distinct, anxious energy about her. David [Harbour, who plays Chief Hopper] described her as like a ‘live wire.'”
Playing The Perfect Character
When 1980s star, Winona Ryder, appeared in the 2016 Netflix series of Stranger Things, a sense of nostalgia was brought back for many people who grew up in that era.
While Winona certainly has not disappeared over the years, her role in Stranger Things appeared to have much more meaning behind it than all the others. As a person who wanted to give a voice to outsider teens similar to her and make a difference in the world, her role in the show is still advocating for those outsiders.
My Name Is Not My Name
She is best-known as Winona Ryder, but this is only her stage name. The actress’s legal name is Winona Horowitz, but “Horowitz” is not even her original family name.
Before her father emigrated to America, his family name was Tomchin but was changed at Ellis Island. As for her first name, Winona was named after the town near the farmhouse where she was born, Winona, Minnesota and she chose Ryder because her dad was a fan of singer Mitch Ryder.
End Of An Era
The couple lasted four years before deciding to split, but the breakup was not an easy time for either party. Winona’s struggle with depression and anxiety worsened, and Johnny reportedly could not control his tears when showing up to movie sets.
This difficult time in their lives also resulted in Winona falling asleep with a cigarette in her mouth and waking up to a small blaze. Nevertheless, while this was the first break-up and heartache in which Winona experienced, she still speaks highly of Depp to this day.
Laundry With Jodie Foster
As soon as Ryder moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting, she was already in the company of fellow A-listers.
Fellow actress Jodie Foster lived a floor above Winona’s first apartment, and, even with a nine-year age difference, the two ladies soon became good friends from doing their laundry together. Foster was able to give aspiring Ryder advice on which roles to take, and she expressed she must do what she wanted and not what others expected of her.
High School Days Were Not The Best
The award-winning actress has confessed that her time during high school was not easy, admitting that she was tortured and bullied for the way she looked. The bullying did not just start and end with words, but it actually turned physical.
“I was wearing an old Salvation Army shop boy’s suit. As I went to the bathroom, I heard people saying, ‘Hey,’ They slammed my head into a locker. I fell to the ground, and they started to kick the s*** out of me. I had to have stitches.”
The Paperback Writer
It seems as though Ryder likes to take on roles in which she plays a writer or journalist for her character.
In Little Women, she played a girl who had dreams of becoming an author, and in Mr. Deeds, Babe Bennett works as an undercover journalist to get information from Adam Sandler’s character. Stemming away from journalism, writing still seems to be the common topic, and in How to Make an American Quilt, Winona plays a character who is writing her thesis paper.
A Fighter’s Chance At Fight Club
The 1999 hit, Fight Club is a true classic thanks to Brad Pitt and Edward Norton bringing David Fincher’s film adaptation to life.
Winona Ryder had, in fact, auditioned for the role of Marla Singer in the film, but the part went to British actress Helen Bonham Carter instead. Carter is also the woman that would marry Tim Burton two years later, who was the director that gave Ryder her first highly recognized role and brought her into the spotlight.
Could She Have Saved The Godfather Part III?
What is done cannot be changed, but could you imagine if Ryder had played Mary Corleone in the third installment of The Godfather?
The award-winning film made history when it won Best Picture for the original and the sequel, that fans rejoiced when the third installment was released 16 years after the second film. When it was agreed that Sophia Coppola was terrible for the role, Ryder was to replace her but we will never know what could have been since Ryder dropped out on the first day of filming.
Things Only Got Worse For The Actress
After staring in Beetlejuice at 17-years-old, Ryder thought the bullying would end since she was not the star of a hit movie. However, she was wrong and things only got worse for the young teen.
Her bullies actually used her role in the movie against her and would call her a witch. However, Winona managed to get her own back years later when a former bully had asked for her autograph when they crossed paths in a coffee shop.
Dealing With Depression and Anxiety
Winona has made it no secret that she has struggled with anxiety and depression throughout her life. Having spoken openly in the past about her struggles in an interview with Diane Sawyer, she is now also speaking about it from a different standpoint.
Having talked initially about being self-indulgent and how lost she felt, Ryder has decided to become an advocate for women. She now hopes she can help others who are dealing with similar issues to the ones she faced.
Calls Al Pacino When She Can’t Sleep
Winona’s anxiety resulted in the actress having trouble sleeping and admits to being an insomniac. However, she has found a famous confident to talk the night away with – none other than a fellow insomniac star, Al Pacino.
He is the man on the other side of the phone, and the two stars call each other when they cannot sleep. Winona stated, “I don’t sleep, he doesn’t sleep. So it is very normal that we call each other at two in the morning. I just love him so much.”
Who’s Got The Last Laugh Now?
The woman in the coffee shop was, in fact, the same girl which kicked Ryder during seventh grade, and begged, “Winona! Winona, can I have your autograph?” Winona’s response was,
“‘Do you remember me? Remember in seventh grade you beat up that kid? And she said ‘Kind of.’ And I said, ‘That was me. Go f*** yourself’.” Good on Winona for getting the last word, and proving that the bullies would not detriment the rest of her life.
Growing Up On A Commune
Winona grew up in a commune in Rainbow, Minnesota, which consisted of just seven families. The commune was so remote that there was no electricity meaning Winona and her family had to come up with their own ways to have fun.
She may currently star in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things, but Winona Ryder is not new to the business. The former teen star has grown up in the public eye, and with her romantic history and 2001 arrest, she has certainly gone through many ups and downs.