The Out-of-the-Limelight Side of Winona Ryder

Winona Ryder experienced a real fall from grace in the early ’00s, but has managed to climb her way back to the top. While she has been onscreen recently as Joyce Byers on Stranger Things, she’ll forever be remembered for her roles in Beetlejuice, Girl, Interrupted, and Edward Scissorhands. And there are all her relationships and scandals, too, of course.

At one point, Winona Ryder was very close to the eccentric filmmaker, Tim Burton. The two were some of the best duos in the film industry. Together, they worked on the popular movie Beetlejuice. The 2012 animated film, Frankenweenie was also a popular and successful collaboration between these two.

Tim Burton, Winona Ryder, and Johnny Depp.
Photo by Barry King/WireImage/Getty Images

Edward Scissorhands was also a hit as it was recognized as a bonafide Christmas. Heard about the two most niche collaborations? Well, that’s the glam goth music video specially designed for The Killers with the title “Here with Me.”

How Old is Winona Ryder?

She is 49 years old, and over the past few years, Winona Ryder has worked with the popular film icon Keanu Reeves. Well, the reason why Ryder chose to work with Keanu Reeves isn’t far-fetched as he’s one of the nicest actors in the business. You should also know that in most movies where Ryder had featured Keanu, they play the role of a romantic couple.

Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder are hugging.
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Many fans noticed this and hoped their good relationship on-screen would develop into something off-screen. Well, it’s not looking like it will as the two have never dated.

Interesting Coincidence in Ryder’s Career

During the mid-1990s, Winona Ryder was nominated for many Oscar awards. Several nominations often see different actors play several roles; however, Winona got the nod for acting in related movies, both of the sets happening in the 19th century. The filmmaking industry has a soft spot for Winona.

Winona Ryder holds her Golden Globe Award.
Photo by Steve Starr/Corbis/Getty Images

Ryder was nominated on both occasions but didn’t win either award. Just like the popular saying, if your first Oscar nomination didn’t earn you an award, don’t hesitate to try again, and if you still don’t win, try one more time.

Hard to Believe

Winona Ryder was just 15 when she was featured in the popular movie Beetlejuice. This movie made her a star overnight. Winona Ryder needed lots of persuasion while on this set. Apparently, Winona Ryder wasn’t sure about the movie’s bizarre story.

Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice.
Source: YouTube

Ryder originally decided to turn down the role. If Winona had stuck with her instinct at that time, cinephiles would have seen Alyssa Milano play the iconic role of Lydia Deetz, the emo-teen par excellence.

Brave New Winona Ryder

Born on October 29, 1971, in Minnesota, Ryder’s birth was said to have happened in a farmhouse rather than a hospital. You’re probably wondering what inspired Ryder’s name; well, here you go: her first name Winona was in honor of the city where she was conceived.

Winona Ryder is posing and smiling at the camera.
Photo by Nancy R. Schiff/Getty Images

Although this isn’t usually mentioned, Ryder also has the middle name, Laura. This middle name was a tribute to Ryder’s parents’ friend, Laura Huxley. Laura happened to be Aldous Huxley’s wife, the man who wrote the popular, eerie sci-fi classic, the Brave New World.

Embedded in the Genes

Laura and Aldous Huxley were both renowned and published editors and authors during their time, and from this, you could tell that Ryder had no choice but to be story inclined. Besides, Winona Ryder’s mother was a major worker in video production, while her father was a renowned bookseller.

Winona Ryder poses for a portrait in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images

It’s not debatable that there’s a great tendency that creative arts could be genetic. Well, we know this to be a general understanding, but in Winona Ryder’s case, acting was always in her gene.

Posing as a Double Threat

Well, not to worry, this is in a good way. During Winona Ryder’s career, she successfully contributed to the soundtracks of three major movies, namely: Girl Interrupted, Frankenweenie, and the popular Reality Bites. If you have seen Frankenweenie, you probably wondered why she sounded so bad. She could have just declined the song

A still of Winona Ryder in Girl Interrupted.
Source: by Sony Pictures

Well, you’re not wrong because it was obvious that her voice didn’t go well with the song. The movie director, Tim Burton, probably asked Ryder to sing the song poorly. Singing the song appropriately might have ruined the scene.

What Makes up a Name?

Winona Ryder’s father’s family were Jewish, of Romanian and Russian origin, and had to bear the surname Tomchin. During the Holocaust, the majority of Winona Ryder’s paternal family members were killed.

Winona Ryder attends the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Some managed to escape to the United States, changing their last names to Horowitz.

Bullet Dodged? Interesting!

After the successful casting of Beetlejuice in her prime, Winona Ryder was offered a key role in the popular independent film Heathers. Heathers is a dark comedy about teens. The movie included a plot that involves a school massacre. Her manager allegedly urged Winona to avoid a role in the movie at all costs as it might ruin her career.

Winona Ryder is leaning on Christian Slater in Heathers.
Source: by New World Pictures

Instead, Winona Ryder embraced the role. She earned acclaim for her superb performance even though Heathers wasn’t financially capable. Well, she’s still acting today; probably her manager was wrong.

No Thanks! I’m Not Interested

Winona Ryder has been involved in several classic movies, but she’s also missed out on or been fully rejected by others. Among the movies, she missed out on were Sleepy Hollow and The Wicker Man. You’ll definitely be familiar with The Wicker Man. It’s the one featuring Nicolas Cage.

Winona Ryder at the Academy Awards Show.
Photo by Getty Images

Winona Ryder also auditioned for the role of Maria in Fight Club and was ultimately considered for the popular musical Chicago, although she wasn’t booked in either of these movies. She reluctantly turned down the offers. They were probably not her style.

Pass It Along; Don’t Lose it

Ryder reminds everyone of Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman, and a few people have claimed she reminded them of Julia Roberts. However, a casting agent said that Winona Ryder’s acting style is different from Julia Roberts’.

Julia Roberts wearing a jacket as she stands with her hand on her hip in a scene from the film I Love Trouble,
Photo by Touchstone Pictures/Getty Images

Some of the roles Winona Ryder rejected were assigned to Julia Roberts, for example, roles in Steel Magnolias and Conspiracy Theory. It was rumored that after securing these roles, Julia Robert sent Ryder a “Thank-you” note on several occasions.

Winona & Johnny, the Entanglement

While working as an actor in the popular Edward Scissorhands, 18-year-old Winona Ryder began a romantic relationship with Jonny Depp, her co-star at that time. Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder were the hot, young Hollywood couple during their time. The courting didn’t last for long as they got engaged in July 1990.

Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp on the red carpet.
Photo by Ke.Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

Johnny Depp was so in love with Ryder that he got a tattoo on his arm saying, “Winona Forever.” Their relationship was so romantic. However, they got divorced three years later. The two didn’t disclose the reason for their breakup, but Jonny Depp once noted that the media attention was a major factor in their divorce. He partially erased the tattoo after the divorce; today, it reads, “Wino Forever.”

You’re Welcome. Much Appreciated

Many people will recall the popular film Girl, Interrupted. This movie starred Winona and Angelina Jolie. Jolie getting a major role in this movie was a great breakthrough for her. Even though Angelina Jolie was overshadowing Ryder in the movie, Ryder made the movie a blockbuster.

Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder are sitting beside each other in Girl Interrupted.
Source: by Sony Pictures

Winona discovered the book on which the movie was based; she spent almost ten years struggling to cast the movie. Winona also chose James Mangold as her movie director; this was the first time Winona was given credits as the overall executive producer for a movie.

I Will Get Him!

Girl Interrupted was the first time Winona was allowed to select a major movie cast and crew. The decision of who will act in a particular role was solely her decision to make.

Winona Ryder is leaning on Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites.
Source: by Jersey Films

Before signing up for Reality Bites, Winona Ryder insisted that Hawke be cast as her partner in the movie after noticing him in the popular Midnight Clear movie. To be candid, it was recorded that many women sympathized with Winona in her pursuit of Hawke as her romantic partner.

How It All Started

For about three years while growing up, Winona Ryder and her relatives lived on a commune popularly known as Rainbow in California, in Mendocino county on a 300-acre lot shared with seven other families. However, the only downside was that they weren’t able to use electricity at all.

Winona Ryder is reading a book.
Source: Pinterest

With no electricity, Winona became a passionate book reader. She read lots of novels and even put some of these novels into play. When her mom showed her movies on the side of the barn, she developed a strong passion for acting.

Winona Ryder’s Personal History

In 1995, Winona Ryder was nominated for a Grammy Award for her outstanding performance during a spoken word reading session of the Diary of Anne Frank. Given that her relatives had a tragic experience during the Holocaust, she delivered with tremendous emotion.

Winona Ryder in the press room of the 1990 ShoWest Awards.
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The emotion she displayed fueled the performance, and a lot of dignitaries were impressed. She earned a standing ovation and also a Grammy award nomination. What a win for Winona Ryder!

I Must Own Her!

During the filming of the popular show, Reality Bites, Janeane Garofalo wasn’t the best co-star. By Janeane’s admission, she strongly dislikes steady rehearsals and has very bad ethical conduct. Ben Stiller, who was a director and co-star, also said that her behavior was not acceptable.

Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder in Reality Bites.
Source: by Jersey Films

The producer decided to fire Garofalo and planned to replace her with Winona Ryder.

Meeting Your Filming Idols

At a tender age, Winona Ryder had always had a soft spot for Sigourney Weaver, and this is because of Weaver’s outstanding performances in the popular movie, Alien. Winona Ryder was quite eager to act alongside Sigourney Weaver in the sequel Alien Resurrection.

Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder at the premiere of Alien Resurrection.
Photo by Pool Lenhof/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

However, Ryder’s aim wasn’t accomplished as the movie was disbanded by its original screenwriter, Joss Whedon. Although the movie was canceled, she still got to act with one of her filming idols.

Winona Ryder as a Matchmaker

While working on the popular movie Little Women, Winona Ryder became a matchmaker as she introduced Christian Bale, one of her co-stars, to the woman he ended up marrying. At this time, Blazic was working as Winona Ryder’s assistant.

Winona Ryder is holding hands with Christian Bale in Little Women.
Source: by Columbia Pictures

Sibi Blazic and Bale later got married in 2000, and they are still together. Sources claimed that the two invited Winona Ryder to their wedding ceremony. Ryder isn’t only a veteran actor; she is also a matchmaker.

Still Awake and Ready

One hidden fact about the veteran actor and movie producer Winona Ryder is that she suffers from a sleeping condition known as insomnia. Allegedly, this sleeping sickness led to Winona Ryder’s connection with Al Pacino, who also suffers from a similar condition.

Winona Ryder in bed on the Set for Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant with My Two-Headed Love Child.
Photo by Ke.Mazur/WireImage

Al Pacino and Winona Ryder call each other whenever they can’t sleep. There was a movie, Insomnia, and although Al Pacino was featured in it, Winona Ryder didn’t get a role in the movie.

Working With Prestigious Peers

Because Winona Ryder’s parents were deep in the world of art as dedicated writers, Ryder grew up amid several famous American writers during her early life. This environment exposed her to literature, and basically, this was how she found interest in reading novels.

Winona Ryder speaks onstage during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
Photo by Fred Hayes/Getty Images

Some American writers she got exposed to include Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg, Beat Generation publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and the popular sci-fi novelist Philip K. Dick. Dick was Ryder’s favorite writer at that time, and this was because it was easy for her to put his writing into play.

A Fascinating Way to Get Acquainted With a Future Co-Star!

Before Winona Ryder’s acting career took a big turn, she was employed as a babysitter. She looked after the children of the legendary American vocalist Tom Waits. Waits and Winona Ryder had a good time together, and they had several collaborations.

Winona Ryder is wearing a Tom Waits t-shirt.
Source: Twitter

Waits and Winona collaborated in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. This was one of the most popular collaborations they had. Tom Waits also helped Ryder secure connections with other top vocalists in America at that time.

Working for the Cause

In 1993, Winona Ryder’s hometown Petaluma, in California, was attacked. A 13-year-old girl named Polly Klaas was abducted and, after a while, was found dead by the seaside. Before Klaas’s demise, Ryder tried her best to get her back by offering about a $200,000 reward for her safe return.

Winona Ryder Hosts Cruel and Unusual: An Exhibition to Benefit the West Memphis Three.
Photo by Chris Weeks/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Aside from that, Winona Ryder also became actively involved with the Klaas Foundation. This foundation was established with the sole purpose of preventing teen abductions and also locating lost teens/children. Ryder dedicated a lot to the foundation, and she went on to star in a movie as a mother whose daughter got abducted.

What Might Have Happened

It might not seem like a big deal to you to find out that the success of Beetlejuice propagated a discussion to create a sequel. Well, the movie project was titled Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian because Beetlejuice 2 wasn’t permitted. Winona and Michael Keaton both signed up to be in the movie, and Burton was the director.

Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice.
Source: by Warner Bros

Just as you’d have presumed, Keaton and Burton ended up creating Batman and Batman returns instead, and this led to the controversial title Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian. Our hope now is that the title doesn’t change again; we hope it stays like this.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Isn’t That the Norm?

Contrary to your assumptions about Winona Ryder, the veteran actor is a blonde. When she was featured in her first movie around 1986 with Lucas, she had to dye her blonde hair black. Sources claimed that she was advised to maintain this look for the rest of her acting career, and she has maintained black hair for most of her career.

Winona Ryder with blonde hair in Edward Scissorhands.
Source: by Twentieth Century Fox

There was only one exception, and this was when she decided to wear her natural hair color for a movie role. The movie was the popular Edward Scissorhands. She played the role perfectly well, and she looked stunning.

Ouch! That Hurt

In 2002, Winona Ryder played a major role in the popular movie Mr. Deeds. The movie was a comedy, and people weren’t sure Winona would kill the role, but surprisingly, she did! However, a bad incidence occurred.

Winona Ryder in the film Mr. Deeds.
Source: by Columbia Pictures

While filming the movie, Ryder was supposed to ride bicycles down a flight of stairs, but she wasn’t really a good cyclist at that time, so she sustained injuries in the process, and she even broke her arm! Remember, do not try these scenes at home!

Coming Up With Complex Ideas

In 2006, Ryder co-starred in the popular movie Scanner Darkly. This movie was derived from a novel written by Philip K. Dick, which was a challenging dystopia. The movie faced lots of criticism for the lack of financing.

Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder are driving a car in Scanner Darkly.
Source: by Warner Bros

The reason for bad financial management was probably because the movie director impacted ticket sales. Winona declared that the Scanner Darkly was one of the most difficult stories or novels she had worked on.

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out, in That Order

Winona Ryder’s godfather, Timothy Leary, was one of the most important people in her life at that time. Timothy Leary was a psychologist and writer who was actively involved in the psychedelic drug movement around 1960.

Dr. Timothy Leary photographed at his home.
Photo by PL Gould/Getty Images

Timothy Leary was so tied in with the hippie counter culture of the United States. President Richard Nixon regarded Leary as one of the most dangerous men in the whole of America. We can only imagine what he might have passed on to Ryder, his goddaughter.

Art Imitating Life

In Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, Winona Ryder portrayed a former ballet star who was eliminated by a tyrannical and insulting movie director played by Vincent Cassel.

Winona Ryder is holding a glass in Black Swan.
Source: by Fox

In reality, Winona Ryder had attended ballet only once, but the movie star had refused to pursue the career basically because she felt her instructor was very mean. Considering the horrific fate she experienced in her role in the movie Black Swan, Winona definitely made the right choice.

Many Thanks to J.D.!

Winona Ryder has once told reporters that one of her favorite novelists is J.D. Salinger. She further explained that she got attached to him when she went through the novel Catcher in the Rye as a child. Throughout her first audition tape, researchers found out that she mentioned a monologue from Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.

Winona Ryder is glancing past her shoulder in Lucas.
Source: Lucasfilm

This audition tape led her to be cast in her first movie, Lucas. So basically, we can conveniently say J.D’s books were a part of her success because many people were thrilled by the audition tape.

Music Is a Part of YouI; It’s in Your Soul!

Aside from movie directing and acting, Ryder also has a passion for career acting in music videos. Several artists and musical bands can boast of having Winona Ryder in their music videos; these artists include Cher, Soul Asylum, Annie Lennox, and Crowded House. The Killers can also boast of this.

Winona Ryder in The Killers’ music video.
Source: Tumblr

Winona Ryder was in a relationship with one of The Killers’s band members, so having a role in the music video wasn’t much of a problem for her. It was way easy for her to contact. The relationship didn’t last long, though.

I’m Outta Here; I’ve Had Enough!

In 1990, Francis Ford Coppola released a blockbuster, The Godfather Part III. This movie was the most controversial movie of all the Godfather series he had released. Coppola’s daughter Sofia played a major role in this movie, and she played it so perfectly well. Viewers commended her, and the movie’s rating was increased.

Sofia Coppola in The Godfather Part III.
Source: by Paramount Pictures

Winona didn’t have a good time throughout her career; this was one of the few times she had issues because she was the culprit in this movie! At the eleventh hour and without hesitation, Ryder got tired and dropped out of the production; this gave Sofia a chance to shine. In an interview, Ryder said the movie set wasn’t just her thing.

Excuse Me, What Did You Say?

Winona Ryder was under fire in 1997 by the famous Joseph Califano Jr., who was the Secretary of Education, Welfare, and health. Joseph Califano Jr. lobbied a series of allegations against Ryder; he accused the veteran actor of committing gross damage to young girls in the filming industry.

Winona Ryder is wearing a leather jacket.
Photo by Ron Galella/Getty Images

Joseph backed up his allegation by pointing out Winona Ryder’s smoking habit. Well, Ryder was used to smoking cigarettes at that time, but we’ve not heard of her having any complications while on set. So, calling Winona Ryder out and tagging her as a bad actor is extreme!

Brush With the Law, Ryder’s Experience

In 2001, Ryder was apprehended in California, somewhere around Beverly Hills. The charges leveled against her at that time were that she stole about $4,800 worth of precious assets, including jewelry and clothing. This was one of the darkest times of the veteran actor’s career.

Winona Ryder listens to arguments in the sentencing phase of her shoplifting trial.
Photo by Steve Grayson/WireImage/Getty Images

During Ryder’s trial, she was accused of using illegal medications and not seeking the attention of professional doctors before taking some drugs. Winona was sentenced to about three years, $3,600 in fine, 480 hours of community hard labor, and ultimately $6,350 to the Saks Fifth Avenue store.

The Misery Ryder Faced in the Industry

We also got to understand that Winona Ryder took a hiatus from movie acting after her arrest. She didn’t appear in movies for about four years, 2002 to 2006. During this period, Woody Allen was preparing his 2004 movie, Melinda and Melinda. Allen liked Ryder at this time, and according to the movie producer, he wanted Ryder to play a major role in his movie.

Winona Ryder and Woody Allen on the set of Woody Allen's
Photo by Ron Galella/Getty Images.

He said Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder’s combination in a movie would bring out the best in any movie, and he wanted the best out of his movie! However, not only was Ryder at her low point, but Robert was also at his low point, as he was also convicted during this period. The two were uninsurable.

Ryder Decided to Bury the Hatchet

After backing out of the blockbuster, the Godfather Part III, Winona was disappointed with herself; she didn’t like how things were between her and Francis Coppola, the movie’s executive producer at that time. However, Coppola and Ryder were later reunited as they worked together in Bram Stoker’s Dracula movie.

Winona Ryder in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Source: by Columbia Pictures

Winona Ryder interested Francis in the movie project, which led to one of Coppola’s major financial breakthroughs. Interestingly, according to Francis, Winona Ryder was the main force behind the movie cast. This means you’ve to give her credits for using Gary Oldman, Keanu Reeves, and Anthony Hopkins in the movie!

Winona the Enabler

On the subject of her theft allegations, Winona Ryder has since admitted that she was under pressure and depressed at the time. Moreover, she mentioned that she bought drugs from a medical doctor, Mark Lusman, to relieve her of the stress and depression, but probably the doctor prescribed the wrong drugs.

Winona Ryder attends a screening of HBO's The Plot Against America.
Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

The doctor was apprehended, and professionals ran a check on him. Results showed that the professional medical board had revoked his license in California. Technically he wasn’t approved in California. So, no doubt, he prescribed the wrong drugs.

Winona Ryder, an Old Soul

It’s quite safe to mention that Winona Ryder’s career got a crazy head start in recent years due to her features in the popular Netflix show Stranger Things. Interestingly, Winona had zero ideas of what Netflix was all about at the time. This isn’t far-fetched because as at the time she started acting and producing movies, Netflix was not in play.

Winona Ryder attends the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

With absolutely no idea of what Netflix was all about, Ryder had to go through a briefing on the whole concept behind Netflix, how movies are uploaded, how revenue is generated, and how fans subscribe to watch their favorite movies.

PTSD, the Pool Incident

Winona Ryder had a near-drowning experience; this happened in a lake very close to her home. A few years later, Winona Ryder filmed a huge sequence in Alien: Resurrection; here, she had to stay underwater for a long time in a while; this was the first time she would be staying underwater after the last incident she had.

Winona Ryder in a scene from the movie How to Make an American Quilt.
Photo by Universal/Getty Images

This unsurprisingly proved to be one of the most daring moments in her career; she had PTSD and found it quite difficult to scale through. However, she did scale through.

The Troubled Years in Ryder’s Career

During Ryder’s youth, the veteran actor and movie producer was subjected to several bullying incidents and abuse from her peers. We don’t think Ryder will ever forget; Winona was mistaken for a boy and targeted by some school bullies. She was accosted and beaten on this faithful day, sustaining injuries that required several stitches.

Winona Ryder is writing in a notebook.
Photo by Getty Images

Things got a little more complicated when Ryder became a little older and famous in her school. Specifically, this was after her superb performance in the quirky Beetlejuice. Bullies were probably envious of her progress, and they got more antagonistic.