Winona Ryder: past and present of the Hollywood icon

When Winona Ryder (Minnesota, 1971) I was little, I dreamed of movies; not with starring in them, but with seeing them and filming them. Her parents, both writers and editors, moved to a commune on the north coast of California when she was 7 years old, and even though there were no televisions there, her mother would put a sheet on the wall of the barn to project old movies. A few years later they moved to Petaluma, in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the actress first tried to see the world through the lens of a camera. “There I created a complete world of fantasy. She had an old theater that she loved, and she used to dream of living in it. Remove the seats, put a bed, a bathtub, a bike and watch movies all the time, “explains the actress.

The childhood dreams of Ryder they are the product of a free and expansive imagination. His background in terms of movies, music, books and popular culture is very extensive. “It’s amazing how wild his mind is,” shares David Harbour, Jim Hopper in stranger things, the nostalgic Netflix series that has catapulted the actress back to stardom. Harbor comments that, while they were shooting, Ryder would often mention little mistakes that were being made in the narrative: “I’d say to the writers, ‘This song is from ’85 and you’re putting it in ’83.’ She knew little details that even they didn’t, and they even had to change things in the script ».

Poplin and tulle dress with jewel embroidery and printed cotton shirt, both by SIMONE ROCHA, and velvet Mary Jane shoes by LE MONDE BÉRYL.

Dan Martensen

My encounter with her begins when she gets out of a car dressed in a discreet white T-shirt and a black jumpsuit. Ryder seems innocent and nervous, Like a girl on her first day of school. After sitting down at a table on the patio of the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, we began a four-hour conversation that ranges from the series The Americans to the works of a South Carolina artist named Ment Nelson, through Laura Dern (“She’s so smart and normal!”) and Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent. The only subject on which Winona Ryder doesn’t want to talk is about Winona Ryder. Every time I highlight an aspect of his career, he says a few words and changes the subject. When we finally get to the high-pressure area that was his first brush with fame, Ryder lowers his voice. «That they talk about you, that they analyze you… Realizing that someone could put you on pause, rewind you. That was overwhelming », he assures.

Ryder landed her first role at age 13 on the romantic comedy Luke, in 1986. At 18 she was already known. A particularly invasive and unpleasant brand of tabloid journalism emerged in the early 1990s, and the predominant idea was that fame and money isolated you of emotional hardship. The pressure felt by young stars, especially female ones, to carve out their place in the sky, against the backdrop of a time when actors’ love interests were being chased, had to be overwhelming. “You work constantly, but if you want to take a break, they tell you: ‘If you stop, call it a day’”. She makes a long pause. “Or ‘You’re not even part of the conversation anymore.’ It’s that wild.”

winona ryder, the icon

With bathrobe from the set, sunglasses from LANVIN, mules leather by JIMMY CHOO and necklace and ring, both by CARTIER.

Dan Martensen

Still, many of us hadn’t forgotten that in the late ’80s and early ’90s Winona Ryder was ‘the’ talk. She embodied the essential spirit of Generation X, a rebellious group of idealistic, cynical layabouts who had big hearts deep down. No one captured the troubled yet hopeful vibe of ’70s kids like her. Her most memorable works of hers from that time –Bitelchús, Eduardo Manostijeras, Reality Bites (bites of reality)– shared the same tensions between disillusionment and exuberance, the cynicism of youth and the longing for something more. Her porcelain doll features and her silent movie star face they conveyed a personality somewhere between a lost girl and an indifferent teenager. She managed to be vulnerable while being totally unflappable.

When Ryder fell in love with Johnny Depp in 1989 they were like a dark fairy tale come true. The couple got engaged after just 5 months and broke up after four years. Since then, Ryder has kept his private life out of the public eye, though he says Hollywood ferocity in the early 1990s it was more damaging to him than we might think: “My life was like Interrupted innocence. I remember when I played a girl who is tortured in a Chilean prison, in The House of Spirits», she says, and thanks «a wonderful therapist» who encouraged her to imagine being gentle with a younger version of herself; “I saw the fake bruises and cuts on my face [el maquillaje del rodaje] and I remember looking at myself and saying, ‘This is what I’m doing to myself on the inside.’ He wasn’t taking care of me at all.”

winona ryder, the icon

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO jacket, pants and vest, all in wool, and CARTIER yellow gold Clash necklace.

Dan Martensen

Ryder says that Michelle Pfeiffer was very supportive by reminding him that everything confusing and strange about his reality would disappear and life would return to being normal. «’This will pass’, he told me. But I couldn’t hear her. I’ve never talked about it,” says Ryder. The nastiest of the tabloid circus came down on her in 2001, after she was arrested for stealing from her at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. She has repeatedly explained that, having broken her arm, she prescribed too many painkillers, so I was disoriented. She eventually had the license revoked of the doctor who had overmedicated her. And then she disappeared. “I locked myself up. She was in San Francisco, but she wasn’t getting any offers either. I think it was a mutual breakup.”

Because of those experiences, Ryder has been very attentive to how the children of stranger things. “I want them to understand that this is not the usual,” he explains, referring to the stratospheric success of the series.. “I always tell them: ‘Work is the reward!’, because when I was their age it was very difficult for me to enjoy the fruits of my effort.” For the Duffer brothers, creators of the series, Ryder’s advice has been very helpful: “He tells the kids what it’s like to be famous and what the press can be like, and the anxiety and confusion that comes with fame,” says Ross. Duffer. “I know that it has especially helped Millie [Bobby Brown] to deal with it. There are few people like her to explain it, because few have experienced it. That sensitivity that has made Ryder’s journey in Hollywood so painful seems to also be her superpower as an actress. “I think her vulnerability and big heart are a rarity,” notes Harbor. «Connect with anyone on the set. He loves meeting people and talking to them. She doesn’t care if it’s a lead actor or the assistant who brings her water,” adds Duffer.

The creators of the series emphasize that Ryder’s contributions have undoubtedly shaped the role of Joyce Byers. “We had thought of her as a strong, devoted and caring mother, but suddenly Winona started adding a whole new twist to her.” Soon Joyce began to be a multidimensional character, key to the story of the series and to extracting great performances from the younger actors. «Winona gives 100% every momentand that’s very important to their peers, especially the kids,” says Matt Duffer.

winona ryder, the icon

Winona poses in a CAROLINA HERRERA NEW YORK knit bodice dress and taffeta maxi skirt and CONVERSE sneakers.

Dan Martensen

The gloomy ’90s teen has grown up to be a confident adult, finally comfortable enough in her own skin to share her wisdom and sense of humor with the world. When her boyfriend Hahn comes to pick her up, we end up chatting for almost an hour. Witnessing the dreamy and fickle Gen X heroine end up with another equally romantic and empathetic person is like healing a wound. “We have a lot in common, but it’s wonderful that she’s not in this business,” the actress confesses. When they met, he didn’t even recognize her. “She was thought to be Milla Jovovich. She told me that she had been very good at The fifth element» Ryder recalls with a laugh.

The quiet life is, after all, Winona Ryder’s version of a better life. Far from the limelight, among old movies, classic books and lifelong friends, the emotional equivalent of that home he imagined in an old theater, with just a bed, a bathtub and a bicycle.

*Harper’s Bazaar September article, starting August 19 at your newsstand.

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Winona Ryder: past and present of the Hollywood icon