If you lived through the late ’80s, it’s hard not to have a soft spot for Winona Ryder. Little Noni with her pixie haircut and her big eyes, her pale skin and her goth before goth was even a thing sensibilities. Ten years have passed since her last big splash in the movies with Girl, Interrupted. Since then she has still worked steadily, though often in smaller roles and less high-profile pieces. And she has kept largely to herself and often shunned the spotlight.
So it was great to read her take on her own life now in the new BlackBook interview to promote her upcoming film The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. For a person who doesn’t give interviews all that often, she sure gives great copy.
On why her career has slowed:
“One of the worst things you can be is mediocre. I get offered a lot of studio things — you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I turn down that then gets packaged with two movie stars. I’m getting a lot of horror movie offers, too, but I just don’t like the ones where you have to cut off your own arm to escape the killer. Or,” and here she imitates the nicotine-soaked baritone that plays over trailers for budget slashers, “What if people did horrific things to your daughter and then they were trapped inside your house?”
On the Internet age:
She swears she can’t understand the allure of “Facehook.” And while she thinks tweeting sounds funny, she has yet to do so because she doesn’t “have a MySpace account.” Her disdain palpable, Ryder says, “I don’t know what the future holds for the Internet.”
Not wholly unaware of how charmingly anachronistic she sounds, Ryder adds, “I don’t know if it’s because of my love of books and the pages and the print — there’s just so much romance in them — but I hate all these doublespeak abbreviations like ‘OMG’ and ‘LOL.’ I still don’t know if that means ‘Laugh Out Loud’ or ‘Lots of Love.’”
On her supposed rivalry with Angelina Jolie:
“I never had any bad feelings about Angelina. And I was hurt that people thought that. Everyone assumed I was really jealous because I thought this would be my vehicle. We said from the very beginning that the actress who played Lisa would probably win an Oscar, because it was the big, great, showy part.
“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.”
On her infamous shop-lifting arrest:
Ryder won’t talk about it. 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.”
And on acting today:
“I still don’t sleep the night before my first day on set. It’s a struggle to make good movies today, and I’ve certainly been in films I’m not thrilled with. I just have to be patient and good in my own life, and know that if I never work again, I still had a great career.”
The thing about Winona is so many of us watched her grow up and identified with her. From Beetlejuice to Heathers to Reality Bites, she was the stand-in for every girl who had no aspirations of ever becoming a cheerleader. She wasn’t necessarily an outsider, but there was something that always set her apart. It made us love her, even when her acting was perhaps a tad suspect. Cough, Dracula, cough.
Now, as she knocks on the door of 40 (she turned 38 last month), I wonder what’s in store for the former It Girl. I let out an inaudible gasp when she appeared, out of the blue, as Spock’s mom in the new Star Trek. Veronica Sawyer, a mom? Others have grown up like her in front of a hungry, un-blinking camera. But few have grown up so closely to my generation. She’ll always be Veronica to me, her voice with its delicate waiver providing the narration to a period in my life when every emotion was amplified and every idol was deified.
So, are you happy to see Winona back in the spotlight? And Facehook? Really? Oh, Noni.