Who Is Winona Ryder?

Actress Winona Ryder made her debut in the drama Lucas (1986). In many of her early films, she played quirky roles: the eccentric Lydia in 1988's horror-comedy Beetlejuice and a teenager who falls for the title character in 1990's Edward Scissorhands. After making headlines for her troubles with the law, she returned to acting with roles in such films as A Scanner Darkly (2006) and The Darwin Awards (2006). In 2016, she began headlining the acclaimed Netflix series Stranger Things, for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination.

Early Life

Actress Winona Laura Horowitz was born on October 29, 1971, in Winona, Minnesota. While in her early teens, Ryder was enrolled in the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

Movies and TV Shows

'Beetlejuice,' 'Edward Scissorhands,' 'Heathers'

Ryder made her film debut in the coming-of-age drama Lucas (1986). In many of her early films, she played a variety of roles. She was the eccentric, gothic Lydia in 1988's horror-comedy Beetlejuice, directed by Tim Burton. Ryder soon appeared as a teenager who falls for the unusual title character in Edward Scissorhands (1990), with then-boyfriend Johnny Depp. In the dark comedy Heathers (1989), she played a high school girl battling for her place in the popularity food chain.

'Dracula,' 'The Age of Innocence,' 'Little Women' and 'Girl, Interrupted'

Ryder graduated to more grown-up roles with Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992). Her work on The Age of Innocence (1993) earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Two years later, she received another nod from the academy with a Best Actress nomination for her role as Jo in Little Women (1995). While she gave a strong performance in Girl, Interrupted (1999) as a young woman in a mental institution, Ryder made several forgettable films around this time, including the box office dud Autumn in New York (2000).

'A Scanner Darkly,' 'The Darwin Awards' and 'Sex and Death 101'

After keeping a relatively low profile for several years, Ryder returned in 2006 with a leading role in A Scanner Darkly, the animated adaptation of a futuristic Philip K. Dick novel, and also starred in the indie comedy The Darwin Awards. She went on to an eclectic mix of projects, including The Ten (2007), a satirical look at the Ten Commandments, and Sex and Death 101 (2007), written and directed by Daniel Waters, the screenwriter of Heathers. Waters and Ryder also reportedly discussed creating a sequel to Heathers.

'When Love Is Not Enough,' 'Black Swan' and 'Destination Wedding'

Rebuilding her reputation as a prominent actress, Ryder earned praise for her co-starring role in the 2010 TV movie When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story. She also featured prominently in films like Black Swan (2010), The Dilemma (2011), The Iceman (2012) and Homefront (2013). After many years professionally apart, Ryder and her old Dracula co-star Keanu Reeves reunited in 2018 for the rom-com Destination Wedding.

'Stranger Things'

In 2016, Ryder provided the star power for the new Netflix series Stranger Things, a sci-fi horror-drama set in small-town Indiana in the early 1980s. She received a Golden Globe nomination after its initial run for her portrayal of Joyce Byers, a single mom whose son mysteriously disappears, and fans eagerly awaited the return of subsequent seasons to watch the sparks fly between Byers and police chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) amid the supernatural mayhem.

'The Plot Against America'

Ryder next surfaced in HBO's The Plot Against America, an adaptation of the 2004 Philip Roth novel which reimagines the trajectory of the nation following Nazi-sympathizer Charles Lindbergh's defeat of Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election. Premiering in March 2020, the six-episode series featured Ryder in the role of Evelyn Finkel, a Jewish woman who becomes romantically involved with John Turturro's Lindbergh-supporting rabbi.

Shoplifting Charges

Ryder found herself under intense public scrutiny in December 2001, after she was charged with shoplifting more than $5,000 worth of merchandise from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, California. Several types of prescription medication were found in her possession at the time of the arrest. Every step of Ryder's journey through the judicial process made the news. Despite pleading not guilty, she was convicted of vandalism and grand theft in November 2002. Ryder was sentenced to 480 hours of community service and three years' probation. She was also ordered to pay several fines and undergo counseling.

Personal Life

During her more than 30 years as a performer, Ryder has been romantically linked to several different actors and musicians, including Depp, Matt Damon and Dave Pirner from the band Soul Asylum. She and Depp were engaged for a time in 1990s, and he had her name tattooed on his arm. Ryder has since been involved in a long-term relationship with fashion designer Scott Mackinlay Hahn.

In August 2018, Ryder made headlines when she suggested to Entertainment Weekly that she may be legally married to Reeves. She said that Dracula director Francis Ford Coppola used a real Romanian priest for their wedding scene in the 1992 film, with the two actors undergoing an entire marriage ceremony before saying their "I do's."


  • Birth Year: 1971
  • Birth date: October 29, 1971
  • Birth State: Minnesota
  • Birth City: Winona
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Female
  • Best Known For: Winona Ryder is an actress known for her roles in films such as 'Heathers,' 'Edward Scissorhands' and 'Girl, Interrupted,' as well as the hit show 'Stranger Things.'
  • Industries
    • Film
  • Astrological Sign: Scorpio
  • Schools
    • American Conservatory Theater

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness.If you see something that doesn't look right,contact us!


  • Article Title: Winona Ryder Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/actors/winona-ryder
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: April 15, 2021
  • Original Published Date: April 2, 2014