Thanks to the 80s throwback hit Stranger Things there has been somewhat of a Winonaissance lately. Winona Ryder hasn’t stopped working since she was the ultimate It-Icon of the 80s and 90s but it’s her turn as Joyce Byres in the Spielbergian-esque sci-fi show that has introduced a whole load of Millenials to the star along with lots of Gen Xers whose love for Winona has never waned.
Ryder on doing Heathers for $1
The part of Veronica in the deliciously dark Heathers (1988) resonated so much with Winona due to her own experience in high-school, i.e. teenagers being assholes, that the movie’s producer Denise Di Novi recalls the young actress pleading in her office, “I’ll do the script just for $1. I’ll do anything, I don’t care how much you pay me.” In an interview with The Face in 1989 Winona said “it wasn’t a question of wanting to or thinking I should, it was a case of nobody understands this like I do.”
Ryder on Revenge on a Childhood Bully
“I was wearing an old Salvation Army–shop boy’s suit. I had a hall pass, so I went to the [girls’] bathroom. I heard people saying, “Hey, faggot!” They slammed my head into a locker. I fell to the ground and they started to kick the shit out of me. I had to have stitches. The school kicked me out, not the bullies. Years later, I went to a coffee shop in Petaluma, and I ran into one of the girls who’d kicked me, and she said, “Winona, Winona, can I have your autograph?” and I said, ‘Do you remember me? I went to Kenilworth. Remember how, in seventh grade, you beat up that kid?’ and she said, ‘Kind of,’ and I said, ‘That was me. Go fuck yourself!'” Bazaar U.K. interview, August 2000.
Ryder on Ryan’s Daughter
Not many young actresses would use Ryan’s Daughter (1970) as a point of reference. However it seems Sarah Miles‘ performance inspired Winona to act. Set in 1915 in an isolated Irish village in Kerry, Rosy Ryan (Miles) has an affair with a British officer to escape her dull marriage. The villagers find out – big disaster. “She bowled me over in that, and everything I’ve seen her in. I think she’s one of the most beautiful women in the world too,” Winona Ryder: The Biography by Nigel Goodall.
Ryder and the Disappearance of Polly Klass
One of Winona’s treasured books is a copy of Little Women where inside the front cover are the words: ‘this book belongs to polly klaas.’ Klass was a 12-year-old girl who in 1993 was kidnapped from her mother’s home in Petaluma, California. Winona had spent part of her own childhood there and offered a $200,000 reward for the return of the missing child. She attended searches, manned phones and helped the Klaas family but after a lengthy search the killer was caught and sentenced to death. In memoriam, Winona saw to it that Polly’s favorite book was made into a movie and she remains a staunch supporter of the Polly Klaas Foundation.
Ryder and Daniel Day-Lewis
1993 saw Winona given her first Oscar nomination for her role alongside Wicklow resident, Daniel Day-Lewis in Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence. “I was so taken aback that I was cast,” she has said. “It was like a dream.” She would go on to star opposite three-time Oscar winner Day-Lewis, one of the most acclaimed actors of all time, reuniting with him on 1996’s The Crucible, and appearing in 2009’s The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, directed by his wife Rebecca Miller, daughter of the playwright Arthur Miller.
Ryder on Bram Stoker’s Dracula
After collapsing due to exhaustion during a costume fitting for Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part III (1990) Winona had to drop out of the project – doctor’s orders. She had wanted to work with Coppola so bad that she pitched a script to him titled “Dracula: The Untold Story.” According to Coppola, much of the cast for Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) was assembled as Winona’s “dream cast.”
Ryder on Black Swan
Winona appeared in the Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) as an aging ballerina who is being cast aside and replaced by a younger dancer (Natalie Portman, who won the Oscar for Best Actress). A case of art imitating life in a metaphor for the mercilessness of the filmmaking machine. Ryder’s cameo was a total scene-stealer and Portman lauded her in an interview saying, “it was just an honor to watch her work and I hope I get another chance.”
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