Winona Ryder
Birth Date:
October 29, 1971
Birth Place:
Winona, Minnesota, USA
5' 4
Famous for:
Her role in 'Beetlejuice' (1988)
Petaluma High School (graduated with a 4.0 average)
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Winona Ryder_270114
Age of Innocence


“In high school, I dressed up as every James Bond girl. I was a teenage Pussy Galore.” Winona Ryder

Academy Award-nominated actress Winona Ryder garnered rave reviews for acting in “The Age of Innocence” (1993) and “Little Women” (1994). Debuting in the coming-of-age drama “Lucas” (1986), Ryder has also starred in such films as “Beetlejuice” (1988), “Heathers” (1989), “Edward Scissorhands” (1990), “Mermaids” (1990), “Bram Stoker's Dracula” (1992), “Reality Bites” (1994), “Alien: Resurrection”(1997), “Girl, Interrupted” (1999), “Autumn in New York” (2000), “Lost Souls” (2000), “Mr. Deeds” (2002), “The Darwin Awards” (2006), “A Scanner Darkly” (2006), “The Last Word”(2008), “The Informers” (2008), “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” (2009), “Star Trek” (2009), “Black Swan” (2010), “The Dilemma” (2011), “The Iceman” (2012) and “Homefront” (2013).

Off screen, Ryder became headlines in late 2001 for shoplifting approximately $5500 worth of merchandise from a Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue store.  Meanwhile, the talented actress received a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood in October 2000 and was voted “Best-Dressed Celebrity of the Week” by Entertainment Weekly for the event.  She was listed on People magazine’s “Top Players Under 35” (1996) and Empire (UK) magazine's “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time” (October 1997).

The 5' 4”, raven-haired beauty, who measures 34C-22-34 (1992- on set of Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1992) and 35C-23 1/2- 34 (1996 designer notes) was on People magazine’s “The 50 Most Beautiful People in the World” (1997).  She was linked to actor Johnny Depp (born on June 9, 1963; engaged in February 1990; separated in 1993), Soul Asylum's lead singer David Pirner (dated 1993-1996) and actor Matt Damon (born on October 8, 1970; introduced by Gwyneth Paltrow at a New Year's Eve party 1997; separated in April 2000).  This stunning actress was also rumored to date a number of other figures, including actors Daniel Day-Lewis, David Duchovny, Val Kilmer, Dodi Fayed, Chris Noth, Jimmy Fallon and Christian Slater, as well as musicians Ryan Adams, Evan Dando, Adam Duritz, David Grohl, Page Hamilton, Beck Hansen, Jay Kay, Rhett Miller, Conor Oberst and Pete Yorn. Ryder has been in a relationship with Scott Mackinlay Hahn since  2011.

“I'm strange, crazy, intelligent, wild, soft, coy, thrifty, boring, romantic, selfish, full of pride, mean, dark, sweet and most of all, I'm through with this interview.” Winona Ryder

Hippy Daughter

Childhood and Family:

“My father is an atheist. My mother is Buddhist. They encouraged my siblings and me to take the best part of other religions to make our own belief system.” Winona Ryder

The daughter of hippy parents Michael Horowitz (born in Brooklyn, the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia and Romania; writer; editor; publisher) and Cindy Horowitz (English descent; educational video producer; writer), Winona Laura Horowitz was born on October 29, 1971, in Winona, Minnesota.  She has three older siblings, half-sister Sunyata Horowitz and brothers Jubal Horowitz (half-brother) and Uri Horowitz.  The Horowitz’s family friends included Winona’s godfather Timothy Leary and beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

Winona, nicknamed Noni, grew up in an electricity-free, collective farm in Northern California.  When she was 10, Winona and her family moved to Petaluma (near San Francisco), where she attended high school.  She later enrolled in acting classes at the American Conservatory Theater.

Little Women


“I read biographies of the greats, and they were so messed up that I thought I'd better mess myself up.  But I couldn't. I 'm too small.” Winona Ryder
While performing a monologue from her favorite author J.D. Salinger's “Franny & Zooey” at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre, 13-year-old Winona Ryder was spotted by talent scout Deborah Lucchesi. Ryder took a screen test for a role in the 1986 film “Desert Bloom,” but lost out to Annabeth Gish.  However, her audition tape went to writer-director David Seltzer, who would cast her in the underrated romantic drama “Lucas” (also in 1986, starring Corey Haim). Ryder’s film debut was shot during her eighth-grade summer holiday.

Following her debut, jobs rolled in. Ryder co-starred with veterans Jason Robards and Jane Alexander in Daniel Petrie's poignant coming-of-age drama, based on the novel by Alan Hines, “Square Dance” (1987).  The film earned Ryder positive reviews, thanks to character Gemma Dillard, a 13-year-old girl abandoned by her mother and raised by her cranky, but devoted grandfather.  Ryder again gained attention while playing Catherine O'Hara and Jeffrey Jones' morose teenage daughter Lydia in Tim Burton's surreal, wonderfully cartoon-like comedy “Beetlejuice” (1988, also starring Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin).

After appearing in writer-director Ernest Thompson's forgettable war drama “1969” (1988, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Robert Downey Jr.), Ryder portrayed rock 'n' roll star Jerry Lee Lewis' (played by Dennis Quaid) 13-year-old bride (and his cousin) Myra in Jim McBride's “Great Balls of Fire” (1989), a biographical drama based on Myra Lewis and Murray Silver Jr.'s books.  She then became Christian Slater’s girlfriend in Michael Lehmann's cult hit “Heathers” (also in 1989, her first film with friend Denise Di Novi as producer).

On the film “Heathers” (1989), Ryder explained, “It's a brilliant piece of literature and I call it literature because it really is.  I held it up next to 'Catcher in the Rye' and all the great books that I've read.”

Ryder entered the 1990s with the starring role of a young outsider who believes superstar Roxy Carmichael is her mother, in Jim Abrahams' dark comedy “Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael,” and a co-starring role opposite then-fiancé Johnny Depp in Burton's “Edward Scissorhands”(produced by Di Novi). After dropping out of the role of Mary Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's “The Godfather, Part III,” due to a health problem (Ryder was replaced by Coppola's daughter Sofia), Ryder went on to play one of Cher’s daughters in Richard Benjamin's adaptation of Patty Dann's novel, the coming-of-age drama “Mermaids.”  Her performance received critical acclaim, giving Ryder a Golden Globe nomination and a National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Francis Ford Coppola offered a role to Ryder again, this time as Keanu Reeves' fiancée who was seduced by Dracula, in the film version of Bram Stoker's novel, “Dracula” (1992, also with Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins). The next year, Ryder was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for portraying May Welland in Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel, “The Age of Innocence” (also starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day-Lewis). Meanwhile, at the Golden Globes, Ryder took home Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Following the Academy Award nomination, Ryder’s career flourished.  She played Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons' daughter, who falls in love with Antonio Banderas' character, in Bille August' version of Isabel Allende's novel, “The House of the Spirits” (1993) and became the valedictorian of her college class in actor-director Ben Stiller's “Reality Bites” (1994, also with Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo and Steve Zahn).

A Best Actress Academy Award nomination arrived after Ryder played spirited Jo March in Gillian Armstrong's adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel in “Little Women” (1994). In the film produced by Di Novi, Ryder shared the screen with Trini Alvarado, Claire Danes and Samantha Mathis. Ryder later dedicated the film to the memory of Polly Klaas, a 12-year-old Petaluma neighbor who was kidnapped and brutally murdered.

That same year, Ryder appeared on television for the first time, though it was only her voice in an episode of Fox’s “The Simpsons.”  On the wide screen, Ryder starred as Berkeley graduate student and bride-to-be Finn Dodd in Jocelyn Moorhouse's “How to Make an American Quilt” (1995).  In the tales of true love, betrayal, joy and heartbreak, inspired by Whitney Otto's novel, Ryder acted opposite Academy Award-winners Ellen Burstyn and Anne Bancroft. She also costarred with Daniel Day-Lewis in Nicholas Hytner's screen adaptation to Arthur Miller's play, “The Crucible” (1996) and had her first action hero role as Annalee Call in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's sci-fi movie “Alien: Resurrection” (1997, alongside Sigourney Weaver, Ryder won a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actress). Additionally, Ryder received a Grammy nomination for her reading of “Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl” in 1996.

In the rest of the 1990s, Ryder appeared in the small part of an actress-waitress, who gets involved with Kenneth Branagh’s character, in writer-director Woody Allen's comedy “Celebrity”(1998) and portrayed real-life writer Susanna Kaysen, a depressed and directionless teenager sent to a mental institution, in James Mangold's “Girl, Interrupted” (1999, alongside Angelina Jolie). Off screen, Ryder started her own music company, Roustabout Studios, in late 1999.

The new millennium watched Ryder as a sweet, but terminally ill, young woman romanced by an aging playboy (Richard Gere), in Joan Chen's Autumn in New York, and as a teacher and devout Catholic Maya Larkin in Janusz Kaminski's thriller “Lost Souls” (alongside Ben Chaplin, film was shot in 1998). After receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 6, 2000, Ryder appeared on the season finale of “Saturday Night Live” as herself on May 19, 2001 and guest starred in an episode of “Friends” on April 26, 2001.

In 2002, Ryder was seen with Adam Sandler in Steven Brill's “Mr. Deeds,” a remake of “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” playing the costarring role of a television tabloid reporter posing as an innocent small-town girl. She also portrayed spoiled, demanding actress Nicola Anders in writer-director Andrew Niccol's “S1m0ne” (starring Al Pacino).  

The subsequent years after her court case (arrested in 2001 for shoplifting), Ryder rarely appeared on screen. She voiced the narrator with Tim Robbins in “The Day My God Died” (2003) and appeared with a small part in actor-director Asia Argento's biopic “The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things” (2004). She went on to appear in writer-director Finn Taylor's romantic comedy “The Darwin Awards” (2006, with Joseph Fiennes), Richard Linklater's adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel, “A Scanner Darkly” (2006, starring Keanu Reeves), David Wain's “The Ten” (2007, with  Paul Rudd and Jessica Alba), “Sex and Death 101” (2007), Geoffrey Haley's “The Last Word” (2008, with Wes Bentley and Ray Romano), Gregor Jordan's “The Informers” (2008, starring  Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke), Rebecca Miller's “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” (2009, opposite Robin Wright and Julianne Moore) and the Polish Brothers comedy/drama film “Stay Cool” (2009, starring as Scarlet Smith). She made a cameo appearance as Amanda Grayson on J. J. Abrams' “Star Trek” (2009), from which she shared a Boston Society of Film Critics for Best Ensemble Cast.

In 2010, Ryder  was cast as Lois Wilson on the CBS made for TV film “When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story,” based on the life of the co-founder of Al-Anon. For her performance on the film, the actress was nominated for the Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film  and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie. The same year, she played the role of Beth MacIntyre/The Dying Swan on Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller movie “Black Swan,” where she received a Screen Actors Guild nomination in the category of Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for her work.     Ryder next played Geneva in the Ron Howard directed comedy film “The Dilemma” (2011), starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, Deborah Pellicotti in “The Iceman” (2012), a crime/thriller film based on the true story of longtime notorious hitman Richard Kuklinski, the psychological thriller  “The Letter” (2012, with James Franco) and the Gary Fleder film adaptation of “Homefront” (2013, with Jason Statham, James Franco and Kate Bosworth). Her voice could be heard as Elsa Van Helsing on the animated film “Frankenweenie” (2012), directed by Tim Burton. On the small screen, she guest starred as Mary Dyer in an episode of “Drunk History.”

Ryder will work with Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes on the upcoming British made for TV film “Turks & Caicos” (2014), directed and written by David Hare.     


Giffoni Film Festival: Giffoni Award, 2009
Boston Society of Film Critics: Ensemble Cast, “Star Trek,” 2009  
San Francisco International Film Festival: Peter J. Owens Award, 2000
Blockbuster Entertainment: Favorite Supporting Actress - Sci-Fi, “Alien: Resurrection,” 1998
NATO/ShoWest: Female Star of the Year, 1997
Kansas City Film Critics Circle: Best Actress, “Little Women,”1994
Southeastern Film Critics Association: Best Supporting Actress, The Age Of Innocence, 1994
Golden Globe: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, “The Age Of Innocence,” 1994
National Board of Review: Best Supporting Actress, “The Age of Innocence,” 1993
Sant Jordi: Best Foreign Actress (Mejor Actriz Extranjera), “Edward Scissorhands” and “Mermaids,” 1992
National Board of Review: Best Supporting Actress, “Mermaids,” 1990
ShoWest: Female Star of Tomorrow, 1990
Young Artist: Best Young Actress Starring in a Motion Picture, “Great Balls of Fire!,” 1990
Torino International Festival of Young Cinema: Special Mention, International Feature Film Competition, “Heathers,” 1989  Show Less
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