Cover story

Eyes Wide Open


Winona Ryder

Winona Ryder Talks Stranger Things, Love & What's Next

After reigning over Hollywood in the ’90s, WINONA RYDER retreated from the limelight. Now starring in Netflix’s Stranger Things, she tells SANJIV BHATTACHARYA about her great re-awakening

Photography Drew JarrettStyling Simon Robins
Cover Stories
Dress Anna Sui; earrings (worn throughout) Scosha

YOU CAN FIND FRIENDS IN UNUSUAL PLACES: “When I was 11, we moved to this town, Petaluma, and I didn’t know anybody. And the way I dealt with loneliness was finding books. They became my friends. My dad gave me The Catcher in the Rye because he saw what I was going through.”

FAME ISN’T THE ANSWER: “Socially, I had a tough time at school; I was shy and different looking. It got so bad that in 7th grade I was homeschooled. When Beetlejuice came out and was a big hit, I thought, this will help me. But then people called me ‘witch’. But you know that thing, when you make one great friend, that can save you? Someone saved me.”

MERYL STREEP IS A GENIUS: “I can’t imagine starting as an actress now. In my day, you did it because you loved acting. I know everyone says, ‘Well, the press harassment goes hand in hand, you can’t complain about it’, but I just never believed that. I worked with Meryl Streep when I was 19 or 20 on The House of Spirits, and she said, ‘That’s just s**t. You’re not signing up for that.’”

AND JODIE FOSTER GIVES GREAT ADVICE: “In my first apartment in LA, Jodie Foster lived upstairs, and we’d do laundry together. She’s so smart. She told me to resist doing things that other people say you should do. Don’t be ‘strategic’! I was up for this movie, Mobsters, and everyone said I should do it. But Jodie said, ‘You have to feel very connected to something before you do it.’ So I turned it down. And it was a flop!”

GET A (REAL) LIFE: “It’s interesting: you can go through good times and bad times, but if you’re still working, people see you in a certain way. I was working a lot in the ’90s and I needed to slow down. It’s so important to have a life outside the industry, to not look to it to validate you as a human being.”

“I had a tough time at school. When Beetlejuice came out and was a hit, I thought it would help. But people called me ‘witch’”

Dress Alexander McQueen
Dress Erdem; pumps Giuseppe Zanotti; ring Anndra Neen

“A lot of people had the perception that I just disappeared in the 2000s. And I did, but only from that world”

STOP LISTENING TO THE VOICES: “I’d been listening to the people I was working with – ‘You should be doing this, you have to keep working or people will forget you and you won’t be relevant…’ – but my heart wasn’t in it. I should have remembered what Jodie Foster said! So I fully take responsibility – I didn’t know how to say no.”

BE AUTHENTIC: “I have some great friends, people I’d do anything for but don’t talk to all the time, and there are people who get annoyed if you don’t get back to them right away. But this is a weird job: on Stranger Things, I had to cry for months, every day. I was delirious at the end.”

TAKE A TIME OUT: “A lot of people had the perception that I just disappeared in the 2000s. And I did, but only from that world. I appeared elsewhere, I promise you. I was transformed into doing stuff I really wanted to do – it was a great awakening. It just wasn’t in the public eye.”

EMBRACE AGING: “I love getting older. I think it has to do with always being the kid on set. It’s interesting because, these days, cosmetic surgery is treated almost like hygiene. I’ve had people say to me, ‘Oh, you should, you know…’ and they point to my forehead. ‘Get that seen to!’ But I’m like, ‘No! I’ve been waiting so long for that to happen!’”

CHARACTERS GET MORE INTERESTING WITH AGE: “I know actresses have a tough time because of their age – they’re just not getting hired. I know it exists. You’re the girlfriend, then you’re the mother. But I don’t see it as a bad thing – it can be just as interesting, if not more so, than the leading-lady, ingénue phase.”

Dress Miu Miu

“You play the girlfriend, then you’re the mother. But that can be just as interesting as the leading-lady phase”

BELIEVE IN TRUE LOVE: “I’m a serial monogamist. I was single for a while and dating and… I just didn’t know how to do it! I’ve always been like that: when I was 15, there was a guy I liked, and we made out, and I thought that meant he was my boyfriend. My mom had to explain it to me. But marriage? I don’t know. I’d rather never have been married than been divorced a few times. Not that there’s anything wrong with divorce, but I don’t think I could do it if that was a possibility. When your parents are madly in love for 45 years, your standards are really high. But I’ve been happily with someone for quite a while now.”

STOP LOOKING INWARD: “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. I think social media is a bit dangerous, in terms of self-obsession. It’s so important to look outward.”

LESS REALLY IS MORE: “I don’t go out much, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I used to have this fantasy – there was this old movie theater in Petaluma, where I saw The Man Who Fell to Earth, and I used to dream I could live in it. Just take the seats out, put my bed there, and a bathtub and a bicycle and a refrigerator and my books. And I’d just live there. Actually, it still sounds like an amazing fantasy.”

Dress Prada

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