Introduction

Publication: Rolling Stone
Date: December 1990

–By Jeff Giles

Winona Ryder: “I don’t have anything left to offer in the teen-angst area. I’ve done it every way I know how.”

Nobody rolls her eyes like Winona Ryder does. Or knits her brow. In her career so far, the nineteen-year-old actress has been a teenager’s teenager – playing left-of-left-field characters who are constantly dying of boredom and humiliation. Often it’s a single campy touch that sends Ryder into orbit. In Beetlejuice, in which she played a death-obsessed schoolgirl who routinely goes to the dinner table in full mourning dress, it was a black hat roughly the size of a satellite dish.

In Heathers, it was the monocle she wore while scribbling fiercely in her diary. In the video for Mojo Nixon’s song ‘Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Lovechild,’ Ryder’s sublime romping as the teen pop singer belongs on any list of her memorable performances – it was as simple as a blond wig. All this is not to say Ryder hasn’t figured in a few throwaway films, namely 1969 and Great Balls of Fire. Still, she stayed afloat even as those pictures slid into the sea. She’s a world-class eccentric, and she has played teenagers as many of them really are: sweet, smart, and geeky.

In person, Winona Ryder is all of those things. The actress, who is Timothy Leary’s goddaughter and who lives in downtown New York, has come to a Chelsea restaurant to discuss her winter hat trick: Mermaids, Edward Scissorhands (blond again), and Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael. After ordering a Shirley Temple and a side of fries, Ryder begins with her part as Cher’s exasperated daughter in Mermaids. It is the funniest, most challenging role she’s had to date, and she wears a great pair of boots.