Vogue

Vogue — December 1990

— by Julia Reed

“In her latest film, Mermaids, Winona Ryder plays Cher’s daughter, an aspiring nun. Here she plays a wilder part, showing off the new look for evening – tousled, curly hair, and smoky eyes. Winona Ryder: letting loose”
by Julia Reed
From Vogue, 12/90

Winona Ryder wants to get a few things straight. Johnny Depp wears a tattoo and it does say WINONA FOREVER. But Winona does not display her affection for Johnny in the same way – she’s not Cher – so she wears a ring instead. It’s a round diamond solitaire, not too flashy, and it does not necessarily mean she and Johnny are engaged. “We’re just having a good time being boyfriend and girlfriend right now,” Winona says. “I’m pretty young and I don’t need any added pressure.”

She might have to get used to it. So far in her six-year career She’s played a spooky problem child (Beetlejuice), a reluctant killer (Heathers), and a child bride (Great Balls of Fire). Her Godfather is Timothy Leary, and articles about her always say she grew up in a commune. “It’s really pissed me off the way people have made my parents into hippies. I didn’t grow up in a commune, I grew up in San Francisco.” Lately she’s endured tabloid harassment of her and Depp (“I expected it, but it does get grinding”) and rude speculation about her exit from The Godfather Part III. Was it drugs? Was it Depp? “It was a sinus infection,” she says, still sweet but clearly sick of it. “Of course I would love to have done it.”

No matter. She’s already starring in two hot movies right now, anyway. Edward Scissorhands reunites her with Beetlejuice director Tim Burton (“He’s one of the very few people I can trust; him asking me to do a movie is like saying, ‘Come hang out'”) and pairs her with Depp for the first time. She absolutely steals Mermaids away from Cher, even though Winona wears scruffy boots and buttoned-up-to-the-neck dresses and Cher wears slut shoes and miniskirts. These days Winona can pick her scripts but won’t commit, even if she “really, really likes” something. “It has to be a real connection, an obsessive kind of thing.” She misread the feeling on Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael – her reviews were great, but she says she wanted to stand out in front of the theaters and tell people not to go in. “You know the feeling when you’ve been caught in a lie? That’s what it feels like to be in a bad movie, and that’s what I imagine death to feel like.”

Winona is endearing and honest and she’ll tell you anything. She says she thought she was a New York person but she’s not, and she knows she’s not an L.A. person, so she’ll probably move to northern California because she wants a “base” and she loves her family. Texas is still her “favorite place,” and she visits Waxahachie, Where she filmed Square Dance, all the time. She wants to work with Bruce Robinson (Withnail & I) and Jim Jarmusch, whom she’s already talked to, and she thinks Dan Waters (Heathers) is “one of the greatest writers in this entire world.”

More than anything, she doesn’t want to sound jaded. “I don’t think that even people who deserve to sound jaded should sound jaded. It’s so tiresome.” She says most actors of her generation “pose too much,” but there seems to be little danger that she herself will succumb. At lunch she ordered french fries and a Coke, and when she sipped her Coke she sucked on the straw with both hands behind her back. Even when she talks about what she calls “the transition” from teen actress to Actress, you think she can in fact handle the pressure. And the glamour? “It’s weird when I hear that term associated with me. This sounds so corny, but it’s like I’m playing a character when I get to be glamorous. I can’t take it seriously, because in real life I feel like a nimrod. But it’s fun to do.”