Before Stranger Things made an unlikely hit out of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” it resuscitated the career of another ’80s darling: Winona Ryder. Once the coolest girl on the red carpet, her image took a hit after a shoplifting scandal the tabloids covered with, let’s say, a less-than-sensitive touch. But just as Britney Spears’s and Janet Jackson’s supposed misdeeds have been re-considered by modern standards, Ryder’s comeback is all but complete. As the fourth season of the hit show continues to break viewership records on Netflix, the Reality Bites star is opening up about the highs and lows of her rise to fame, including her difficult break-up with her controversial Edward Scissorhands co-star Johnny Depp.
“That was my Girl, Interrupted real life,” she said in a recent interview in Harper’s Bazaar, referring to her post-Depp period. Though the pair were once engaged, they had a tumultuous split in 1993 that resulted in the Pirates star getting his “Winona Forever” tattoo changed to the sadly prophetic “Wino Forever.”
Ryder says that even as her career took off, her mental health suffered. “I remember, I was playing this character who ends up getting tortured in a Chilean prison [in the 1994 drama The House of the Spirits]…I would look at these fake bruises and cuts on my face [from the shoot], and I would struggle to see myself as this little girl…I remember looking at myself and saying, ‘This is what I’m doing to myself inside.’ Because I just wasn’t taking care of myself.”
Her Age Of Innocence co-star Michelle Pfeiffer tried to be of support, says Ryder, recalling, “I remember Michelle being like, ‘This is going to pass.’ But I couldn’t hear it.”
Thankfully, she’s now more open to that input. With the help of her “incredible therapist,” Winona Ryder says she is kinder to her younger self, and is paying the favor forward: she’s become something of a mentor to Stranger Things co-star Millie Bobby Brown, who is now navigating adolescent fame. Ross Duffer, co-creator of the sci-fi series, says she’s “really helped” the young cast. Of course she has. Winona forever.