Before They Were Famous: Winona Ryder

Winona Ryder

WHEN it comes to Winona Ryder, it’s hard to shake the feeling that she belongs to another era. It’s not just that she doesn’t appear to have aged a day since she reached icon status in the 1990s with films like Edward Scissorhands and Girl, Interrupted. It’s also the way she lives her life. She says that she still keeps old cassette tapes of important voicemails and bootleg VHS tapes of concerts. It took her an “embarrassingly long time” to figure out how to take a selfie on her phone. On the topic of the Internet she muses, “I do wonder sometimes if part of me didn’t want to have kids because it’s such a crazy world. You really can’t control what they see.” Luckily for her, this era—that is, the present one—also belongs to another era. Nostalgia is the strongest tide in Hollywood, from sequels and reboots to original films that harken back to a bygone era—and nobody evokes the past quite like Winona.

Winona Ryder

  • WINONA LAURA HOROWITZ was born Winona Laura Horowitzin a farmhouse near Winona, Minnesota, the daughter of Cynthia Palmer (née Istas) and Michael Horowitz.
  • HER mother is an author, video producer, and editor. Her father is an author, editor, publisher, and antiquarian bookseller. He also worked as an archivist for psychedelic guru Dr. Timothy Leary (who was Ryder’s godfather).
  • HER father’s family is Jewish (they emigrated from Romania and Russia), and Ryder has described herself as Jewish.
  • MANY members of her father’s family perished in the Holocaust. Her father’s family was originally named ‘Tomchin’ but took the surname ‘Horowitz’ when they immigrated to the United States.

Winona Ryder

Advertisement
  • NAMED after the nearby city of Winona, she was given her middle name, Laura, because of her parents’ friendship with Laura Huxley, writer Aldous Huxley’s wife.
  • HER stage name derives from Mitch Ryder, a soul and rock singer of whom her father was a fan. Ryder’s father is an atheist and her mother is a Buddhist; they encouraged their children to take the best part of other religions and use them to make their own belief systems.
  • RYDER has one full sibling, a younger brother, Uri (named in honor of the first Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin), and two half-siblings from her mother’s prior marriage: an older half-brother, Jubal Palmer, and an older half-sister, Sunyata Palmer.
  • IN 1978, when Ryder was seven years old, she and her family relocated to Rainbow, a commune near Elk, Mendocino County, California, where they lived with seven other families on a 300-acre plot of land.

  • AS the remote property had no electricity or television sets, Ryder began to devote her time to reading and became an avid fan of J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye.
  • SHE developed an interest in acting after her mother showed her a few movies on a screen in the family barn.
  • AT age 10, Ryder and her family moved on again, this time to Petaluma, California. During her first week at Kenilworth Junior High, she was bullied by a group of her peers who mistook her for an effeminate, scrawny boy. As a result, she ended up being home-schooled that year.
  • IN 1983, when Ryder was 12, she enrolled at the American Conservatory Theatre in nearby San Francisco, where she took her first acting lessons.
  • SHE suffers from aquaphobia because of a traumatic near-drowning at age 12. This caused problems with the underwater scenes in Alien: Resurrection (1997), some of which had to be re-shot numerous times.

Winona Ryder

  • IN 1985, Ryder sent a videotaped audition, where she recited a monologue from the novel Franny And Zooey by J. D. Salinger, to appear in the film Desert Bloom. Although the part went to Annabeth Gish, writer/director David Seltzer noticed her talent and cast her in his 1986 film Lucas, about a boy called Lucas (Corey Haim) and his life at high school. Shot in the summer of 1985, the film co-starred Charlie Sheen and Kerri Green with Ryder playing Rina, one of Lucas’s friends at school.
  • HER next film was Square Dance (1987), where her teenage character creates a bridge between two different worlds – a traditional farm in the middle of nowhere and a large city.
  • RYDER won acclaim for her role, and The Los Angeles Times called her performance in Square Dance ‘a remarkable debut’. Both films, however, were only marginally successful commercially.
  • DIRECTOR Tim Burton decided to cast Ryder in his film Beetlejuice (1988), after being impressed with her performance in Lucas. The film was a success at the box office, and Ryder’s performance and the overall film received mostly positive reviews from critics.

 

Advertisement
Previous articleEllen DeGeneres makes history at 43rd People’s Choice Awards
Next articleOur Top 5 Treatments At Shashi’s Laser Beautique
Robert Clunie
Robert is a descendant of the stout Macpherson Clan out of the Scottish Highlands and can claim Robert the Bruce as a far-off cousin. He suffers from a severe form of Collectors’ Disease and sports an assortment of small valuable curious. In his spare time he works a full-time job, but his real prowess lies within his musical aptitude as a drummer. He is a semi-amateur of the instrument and although he claims beating a drumhead one of the more primal sensations man can experience, he feels it to be an unnatural exercise to pursue. If he could have his way, he’d have breakfast every meal of the day and is a fan of all things Roald Dahl.