10 Things You Didn’t Know About Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder was one of the best things to come out of the ‘90s. She rose to fame during the late ‘80s thanks to her roles in Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands and quickly graduated to more Oscar-baity parts in movies like Dracula, The Age of Innocence and Little Women. Although she disappeared from the spotlight for a while, she’s finally making a comeback thanks to her starring role in the Netflix supernatural-horror series Stranger Things. Since she has a birthday coming up, we have 10 things you didn’t know about the ‘90s icon:
Winona Laura Horowitz was born in a farmhouse near Winona, Minnesota on October 29, 1971 to Cynthia, an author/video producer/editor, and Michael, an author/editor/publisher/antiquarian bookseller. She has one younger brother, Uri, and two older half siblings, Jubal Palmer and Sunyata Palmer, from her mother’s previous marriage. Her parents were part of the ‘60s counterculture elite. Her parents were friends with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, writer Aldous Huxley, musician John Lennon and psychedelic guru Timothy Leary, who was Winona’s godfather.
Her father’s family is Jewish and many of her relatives died in the Holocaust. They immigrated to the U.S. from Romania and Russia and changed their name from Thomchin to Horowitz when upon landing. Her father is atheist and her mother is a Buddhist. When she was growing up, her parents encouraged her to take the best parts of other religions and use them to create her own belief system.
8. Unconventional Upbringing
The Heathers star’s parents were hippies. When she was seven, her family moved to a commune near Elk, Mendocino County, California, with several other families, where there was no electricity or television sets. While there, she became an avid reader. Her favorite author was the reclusive writer J.D. Salinger. When she was 10, her family left the commune and moved to Petaluma, California, where she enrolled at Kenilworth Junior High.
When The Age of Innocence actress entered public school, her peers weren’t so welcoming of her. A group of them bullied her and beat her up when they mistook her for a scrawny, effeminate boy because of her short, spikey hair. After that, she was homeschooled and her parents enrolled in at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco where she took her first acting classes. In 1989, she graduated from Petaluma High School with a 4.0 grade point average.
6. Prescription Pill Addiction
After her breakup with Johnny Depp, she was prescribed Klonopin to help her sleep, but she stopped taking that a year later and started taking the anti-anxiety medication Xanax. She started taking a succession of pain medication following a series of injuries, including a broken arm on the set of Mr. Deeds. After her arrest for shoplifting at the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue in 2001, it was revealed that she had received prescription painkillers from 20 different doctors in the previous six years. Between 1996 and 1998, she had hit up 20 doctors to write 37 prescriptions. She blames her 2001 arrest on pill-related confusion.
5. A Stay at a Psychiatric Facility
In 1990, she briefly checked herself into a psychiatric facility to treat her anxiety and depression. “I remember waking up one morning. I looked in the mirror and thought, Am I going crazy? So I checked myself into a hospital where I stayed for a few days. I was surrounded by people who had been molested and abused. I felt like they hated me, didn’t know what the f-ck I was doing there and wanted me to get the hell out because what the f-ck did I have to complain about?” she told Blackbook Magazine. “When it was my turn to talk in group therapy sessions, I was like, I’m just really tired because it’s hard to be famous.” She stayed for five days and then left and sought treatment elsewhere.
4. A Luddite
The Oscar-nominated actress doesn’t use the Internet and she doesn’t use social media. “I’m not on [social media]. I’m very private so I can’t imagine what I’d want to share with the world. I can’t even take selfies; I literally just learned about the button that makes the screen flip,” Net-a-Porter’s The Edit. “I think [social media] is a bit dangerous, in terms of self-obsession. It’s so important to look outward.”
3. Not Pretty Enough
The How to Make an Make an American Quilt star was told by the casting director of the movie Heathers that she wasn’t pretty enough for the part, but Winona really wanted it, so she went out, got herself a makeover and then went back to audition. “My agent told me it would ruin my career and the first time I went in to audition they told me I wasn’t pretty enough so I got a makeover at the Beverly Center [shopping mall] and went straight back – because I just wanted to say the words, even if they hated me,” she told The Telegraph.
Ryder considers herself a serial monogamist and she had a couple of high profile relationships in her day. Her first was with Johnny Depp. They got together in 1989 when she was still a teenager and broke up in 1994. They got engaged five months into their relationship. After Depp, she dated Matt Damon from 1990 to 2000. She’s currently dating fashion designer Scott Mackinlay Hahn. They hooked up in 2011 and have together ever since.
After her 2001 shoplifting arrest, she retreated to San Francisco where her parents had been living. She spent time exploring other interests that she might already had explored if she hadn’t been an actress. One of them was her fascination with constitutional law. She sat in on some law lectures at Berkley. She also went to see the environmental activist and life coach Julia Butterfly Hill, who lived in a 1,500-year-old Californian redwood for 738 days to prevent it from being cut down. “I climbed 180 ft up to where she was but I only lasted six days up there – she lasted nearly two years,” she told The Telegraph.