Total Film, May 1997
A grungy kid. A murdering teenager. A mixed-up puritan temptress. The voice of Lisa Simpson’s academic rival. A 14-year-old bride getting down to some uneasy cousin-lovin’. Assorted turn-of-the-century lovely young ladies in assorted costume dramas. No-one could ever accuse Winona ryder of sticking to what she’s good at. Unless it’s being gorgeous, that is.
God-daughter of dead drug guru Timothy Leary, and named after the small Minnesota town where she was born in 1971, Winona Laura Horowitz obtained her movie name from one of her dad’s Mitch Ryder albums. Over the past 11 years (she debuted in Lucas in ’86), Ryder has appeared in an impressive range of good films (Beetlejuice, Mermaids, Night On Earth, Heathers) and remarkably few bad ones. And she’s rarely known anything other than positive reviews — one reason why she is now so famous.
The other reasons? Because she’s skinny, vulnerable-looking, palely interesting and has uncommonly beautiful eyes — that’s why. Students and hormone-addled teenagers simply love fe; she dates the cream of Hollywood talent, so the Just 17 brigade love to hate her (she humilated Johnny Depp by leaving him with a large and hilariously inaccurate “Winona Forever” tattoo on his arm); and, because she’s been in a string of popular costume dramas, mums and dads know who she is too.
She’s not Hollywood glamour, nor is she the girl next door. She dresses a bit scruffy, she cares for the environment, she rates Withnail And I and Galipoli among her favorite films. She’s thats gorgeous art student you used to see on the other side of the refectory — the one fancied over for years and years, but never dared to ask out. Perfect, cute, not quite attainable.