Girls Get Famous

Publication: Sassy
Title: Girls Get Famous
Date: October 1988

Winona Ryder makes me feel like I need to grow up. And the girl’s only 17. It’s not that I’m that immature [No comment. – Jane], it’s just that she’s so centered and articulate and serious about being a good actress. The star of 1969 and Beetlejuice is sitting behind a desk at her press agent’s office in baggy khakis, a blue blazer and a T-shirt that says “What a Waste. Oh, the Humanity.” (Its got something to do with Heathers, the movie she’s just finished filming.) Winona’s pretty in a very subtle sort of way, with pale skin and fragile, classic features. Real composed and serene. And she’s talking about things like the political situation in Northern Ireland (she’s not even Irish). This weird affinity she has with Natalie Wood. The short stories she writes. And how she totally immerses herself in new roles by changing around her room and buying clothes to suit the character. And all I can think to say is, “Ohmigod, that T-shirt is so cool!” Even though I don’t really get what it means.

Hard to believe, but Winona says that she was never popular in school. “If anything, people thought I was a geek, I guess,” she says. “I just wasn’t the hippest.” Winona, who lives in San Francisco with her parents (both writers), sister and two brothers, got her first role at 13 when a casting director discovered her at an acting school and recommended her to a talent agency. She was cast in Lucas as Rina, a girl with a crush on the title cgaracter, played by Corey Haim. You’d think starring in a movie would’ve helped Winona’s social status, but no. “The kids were jealous and they were hostile towards me,” she says. “Like when Square Dance came out I played this real dowdy, puberty-stricken little girl. It’s a character, and kids don’t really understand that and they started teasing me about it. It’s really so asinine that I don’t really relate to it. I just wanted to get out.” So Winona did her junior (and now her senior) year on what she calls independent study. She just completes assignments and sends them into the school. Even though she’s happy she’s almost done, she says, “I’m very aware that my friends are going to school with other kids…especially when I see movies about what people do in high school. I wish it was like that for me. But I don’t consider it a great tragedy.”

Eventually Winona wants to go to college (in Ireland) with her best friend (who’s a model), but that’s once her career “gets really solid.” That shouldn’t take too long. She’s just finished filming her fifth movie, Heathers, with 18-year-old Name of the Rose star Christian Slater (whom I’d call a spunk, but of course she maturely describes him as “so brilliant it’s almost spooky. We’re great friends.”). And she’s considering a bunch of scripts. Sometime she’d like to play a guy, maybe in West Side Story. But right now she’s on her way back to San Francisco – to rearrange her room in the way her next character would, I guess. And I’m going to find out where I can buy a T-shirt just like hers.