Winona Ryder (born Winona Laura Horowitz; born October 29, 1971) is an actress famous for playing kooky, slightly awkward characters in a number of movies. A few of her roles have been Lydia Deetz in Beetlejuice (1988), Veronica Sawyer in Heathers (1989), Kim Boggs in Edward Scissorhands (1990), Jo March in Little Women (1994), Susanna Kaysen in Girl, Interrupted (1999), Spock's mother in Star Trek (2009), Sandra Dulles in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009), a supporting role in Black Swan (2010) and Joyce Byers in Stranger Things (2016-). She was involved with the actor Johnny Depp for three years before they later split, and was linked with Matt Damon in the early Noughties.
This actress' roles provide examples of:
- Awesome, Dear Boy: She has said that she took the role in Alien: Resurrection before even reading the script, because she had always wanted to be in an Alien movie and could brag about it to her brothers.
- Career Resurrection: A case that took time to gradually build. After taking a few years off from acting while she was on probation for shoplifting from Saks Fifth Avenue, she starred in a film rendition of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly, which was critically acclaimed. From there, she would manage to pop up in acclaimed independent projects (Black Swan, Experimenter, Show Me A Hero) and occasionally have small parts in more high-budget features (Star Trek, Frankenweenie). However, it really seemed to take hold in a higher profile when she decided to star as single mother Joyce Byers in the Netflix drama series Stranger Things, earning much press and support upon the show's release.
- Dawson Casting: Averted early in her career, when she was close in age to most of her teenaged characters. She was sometimes criticized for playing teen roles ("I'm like, 19. What do they want me to play, a judge?"). She became a straighter example of the trope as she grew older. She was 28 in Girl, Interrupted whilst her character was 18. Her petite frame and wide eyes contribute to looking much younger.
- Dye Hard: Her hair is naturally blonde. She was required to dye it brown for her first film Lucas - and has alternated between that and blonde over the years.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Often, but Lydia Deetz is the best example.
- Fatal Method Acting: A near miss—she nearly drowned during the shooting of the underwater scene in Alien: Resurrection.
- Former Child Star: Aversion. She began acting at 13 but enjoyed far more success in adulthood.
- I Am Very British: Adopts this type of accent for Bram Stoker's Dracula.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Despite being famous for her roles such as the pretentious and homicidal Veronica Sawyer in Heathers and the vain Beth MacIntyre in Black Swan, she's known for being a very kind person in real life. While filming Black Swan, she would frequently apologize to Natalie Portman on set for the hateful and vulgar dialogue she delivered to her character. She also offered a reward for the safe return of Polly Klaas, a kidnap victim. After her murder, Ryder dedicated her performance in Little Women to Klaas.
- Playing Against Type:
- In Edward Scissorhands and Little Women she played a Girl Next Door and a Spirited Young Lady, respectively, in contrast to her other moody, slightly awkward characters.
- In Stranger Things, she plays a Mama Bear of kids who seems to be close to Ryder's age at the time. Many reviews pointed out that it was the virtually the first time she played such a role, as her petite frame and young looks made her prone to Dawson Casting and play characters younger than 30. For reference, the other time she played a mother, being Spock's mom in Star Trek, the actor playing her son was only six years younger than her and already an adult, thus she was Playing Gertrude.
- Romance on the Set: Briefly dated Christian Slater during the filming of Heathers. She also dated Johnny Depp, her co-star in Edward Scissorhands.
- Type Casting: Early in her career, she found herself playing a lot of moody adolescents - Beetlejuice, Heathers, Mermaids and Reality Bites. She also found herself playing a lot of 'innocence lost' characters - Bram Stoker's Dracula, Girl, Interrupted, Alien: Resurrection, The Crucible.
- What Could Have Been:
- She was cast as Mary Corleone in The Godfather: Part III, but withdrew. The part went to Sofia Coppola.
- Woody Allen wanted Ryder to star in Melinda and Melinda, with Robert Downey, Jr. to co-star, but after her shoplifting arrest and his drug problems, no one would insure them, so Allen couldn't get a bond to complete the movie.