Winona Ryder doesn't do much press anymore, but in an interview with BlackBook magazine she discusses her upcoming film The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, her relationship with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, and spending two decades in the spotlight.
While Ryder "personified the knowing malaise of the late '80s and early '90s," according to interviewer Nick Haramis, she's recently been on a "nine-year retreat from the spotlight." (It's true that we haven't heard much from her, but she has made several movies in the past decade.) Haramis writes:
Ryder rarely gives interviews, as if rebelling against-or atoning for-her effusive past. "It's weird," she says, "the whole concept of an interview. To hold someone accountable for what they've said or done when they were younger is bizarre. We evolve, we change-at least I hope we do."
While Ryder says she's learned to be wary of revealing too much to the press, it doesn't stop her from sharing this bit of personal information:
"I've just been told that news will break next week that I'm pregnant," she says laughing, "which is impossible." And just to make sure she has been understood, Ryder adds, "Because, you know, I'm on my… " Her left hand circles the air just south of her phantom baby bump.
Ryder reveals that she once had a short story published under a pseudonym because:
"I wanted to know what it felt like to have people enjoy something and not know it had anything to do with me." But wouldn't the recognition validate the work? "Well, I can't listen to Wagner because he hated Jews. I can't read Émile Zola-I mean, I love Émile Zola, but he had some scandals that were kind of scary-and I worship Woody Allen, but he had his thing, too. I struggle with the age-old question of how to separate the art from the artist."
She says her four year relationship with Johnny Depp, which started when she was 17, put her at the center of a media frenzy early in her career.
"Things changed for me when I met Johnny," she says. "This weird thing happens when you're written about in magazines, where you start to think, This is who I am. This is how I have to be. I felt restricted and pressured into being the way people perceived me. It was hard for me to find my footing. The Johnny thing made me really afraid of the press because, even though it was about him, I was beside him the entire time."
While she's on good terms with Depp and another celebrity ex, Matt Damon, the fact that her entire dating history is public makes starting a new relationship difficult.
"Matt couldn't be a greater, nicer guy. I'm really lucky that I'm on good terms with him," she says. "With Johnny, it's like we're good, but we lead very different lives." Ryder adds, "I was out at a bar with a friend who said, ‘Do you realize that in America you're never going to be able to meet a guy who knows nothing about you? Everyone will have preconceived ideas about who you are.' I got so bummed out. I'd never really thought about it that way."
Ryder says the media scrutiny caught up to her in 1990, so at 19-years-old she decided to seek psychological treatment.
"I remember waking up one morning," she says of her breaking point. "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 fuck I was doing there and wanted me to get the hell out because what the fuck did I have to complain about?" A smile builds across her face when she adds, "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 drew on her experience in the hospital while filming Girl, Interrupted years later. Angelina Jolie won an Oscar for her role in the film, and in some ways Ryder is responsible for jump-starting her career.
"I fought very hard for her to have that part, and I never really felt like I got the chance to know her." Did Jolie ever personally thank her? "I feel like it won't read in print very nicely if I say that wasn't really her style," she says. "But she seems to be a completely different person now."
Ryder is back on the interview circuit to promote Pippa Lee, in which she plays Sandra Dulles, "an adulterous mess of insecurity and self-interest," but she still refuses to discuss some of her own issues. She won't answer Haramis' questions about her December 2001 arrest for shoplifting at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.
We move on, but before doing so, she touches my arm and, as though forgiving me for asking, says, "I understand. I'm curious about other people, so I have to understand when people are curious about me."
Read the rest of the interview here at BlackBookMag.com.
Winona Ryder Bites Back [BlackBook Magazine]