Vamp

Publication: Life
Date: June 1989

A trio of kinky roles has Winona Ryder riding high as Hollywood’s newest

The ingenue striking a pose in L.A.’s Orpheum movie palace is clearly not the girl next door. In Beetlejuice Winona Ryder, 17, portrayed a ghoulish teen, and in the recently released Heathers she was a serial killer. Opening later this month is Great Balls of Fire, in which she plays the 13-year-old bride and cousin of rocker Jerry Lee Lewis. The film’s director, James McBride, has since cast her in an upcoming movie as what he calls “a schizophrenic female Ninja assassin.”

Ryder comes by all this wierdness naturally. Her parents are leftover flower children from the ’60s; her godfather is LSD guru Timothy Leary. Born near Winona, Minn. (hence her name), she attended a Zen preschool in San Francisco and later moved with her family to a hippie community in Northern California. Moveies are in her blood. Says Ryder, “My mom used to keep me home from school whenever there was a good old movie on TV.” Her favorite screen idols of long, long ago: Greta Garbo and Natalie Wood.