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Ringside Report Puts the Spotlight on Winona Ryder


By Geoffrey Huchel

Winona Ryder, born Winona Laura Horowitz, is one of those rare actors who didn’t start their career in television. She was a movie star from the very beginning. She wouldn’t appear on television until much later, and by that time, she was already a Golden Globe winning and Oscar nominated superstar. Ryder is an actor from my generation. I grew up watching her in many movies that have become personal favorites. Her natural charm and charisma shine through in all of her roles, portraying them each with such realness and vulnerability; and it’s those attributes that make her relatable. Ryder has gone through some rough times during her career, which I will not touch upon; I just want to focus on her long and successful body of work.

Ryder first burst onto the big screen in the mid-1980s in the coming-of-age film LUCAS (1986), in the supporting role of Rina. The film starred Corey Haim in the title role, along with Kerri Green and Charlie Sheen. It wasn’t long before Ryder became a household name when she was cast as Veronica in the cult favorite HEATHERS (1988). The dark comedy starred Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty. Her next role would be one of her more recognizable and career defining: Lydia Dietz in Tim Burton’s BEETLEJUICE (1988), starring Michael Keaton, Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin. She was cast opposite Dennis Quaid in GREAT BALLSOF FIRE! (1989), based on the life and career of Jerry Lee Lewis.

Throughout the early 1990s Ryder turned in performances in WELCOME HOME, ROXY CARMICHAEL (1990) as Dinky Bossetti; MERMAIDS (1990), as Charlotte Flax, starring Cher and Christina Ricci, Tim Burton’s EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990), as Kim, the popular high school student who is the object of Edward’s (Johnny Depp) affection, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (1992), with Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins and Keanu Reeves, THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS (1993), starring Meryl Streep, Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close, and another one of my favorites, Martin Scorsese’s THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (1993), starring the legendary Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer. Ryder won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her portrayal of May Welland. In 1994 she lent her voice as a guest star on THE SIMPSONS (1989) and starred opposite Ben Stiller and Ethan Hawke in REALITY BITES.

She brought the iconic literary character Jo March to life in the remake LITTLE WOMEN (1994), with Susan Sarandon, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Samantha Mathis and Christian Bale. For her next film, she co-starred opposite Ellen Burstyn and Anne Bancroft for HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT, co-starred again opposite Daniel Day-Lewis for the historic drama THE CRUCIBLE (1996), and Sigourney Weaver for ALIEN: RESURRECTION (1997). She turned in a powerful performance in the drama GIRL, INTERRUPTED (1999) as writer Susanna Kaysen, and her account of her 18 month stay at a mental hospital in the 1960s. The film based on a true story, co-starred Oscar winner Angelina Jolie, Whoopi Goldberg, Brittany Murphy, Jared Leto and Elisabeth Moss. Ryder made her first on-screen television appearance for the comedy STRANGERS WITH CANDY (1999), appearing in one episode. In 2001 she guest-starred on the mega-hit FRIENDS (1994), as Melissa, an old college friend of Rachel’s (Jennifer Aniston) in the season seven episode THE ONE WITH RACHEL’S BIG KISS.

Ryder signed-on to star opposite Adam Sandler for the comedy MR. DEEDS (2002), and starred for the second time opposite Keanu Reeves for the animated crime drama A SCANNER DARKLY (2006). She appeared in the lesser known films THE TEN (2007), THE LAST WORD (2008), THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PIPPA LEE (2009), and STAY COOL (2009), before making an appearance in the action/adventure/sci-fi flick STAR TREK (2009). Ryder portrayed Amanda Grayson, the mother of Spock. The film also starred Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Chris Hemsworth. For her next role Ryder returned to television to star as the title role in WHEN LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH: THE LOIS MILLER STORY (2010). LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH is based on the story of Lois Miller, co-founder of Al-Anon, and her alcoholic husband, Bill Wilson, played by Barry Pepper.

Also, in 2010, Ryder portrayed the pivotal role of Beth MacIntyre in the Oscar winning film BLACK SWAN. The film starred Oscar winner Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Barbara Hershey. Following her turn in BLACK SWAN, Ryder co-starred in the comedy THE DILEMMA (2011) with Vince Vaughn, Kevin James and Jennifer Connelly, THE LETTER (2010), with James Franco, THE ICEMAN (2012), also with Franco, Michael Sheen, Chris Evans and Ray Liotta. She reteamed for a third time with Tim Burton for the animated FRANKENWEENIE (2012), featuring the voices of her BEETLEJUICE co-star Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short. Ryder and Franco co-starred again for 2013’s HOMEFRONT, with Jason Statham. Ryder’s most recent film, DESTINATION WEDDING (2018) reunited her with her DRACULA and A SCANNER DARKLY co-star Keanu Reeves.

Ryder struck acting gold when she was cast in Netflix’s critically acclaimed STRANGER THINGS (2016). Ryder portrays Joyce Byers, a single mother of two boys, whose younger son Will mysteriously disappears. The series also stars David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard and rising star Millie Bobby Brown. Ryder is at the top of her game in her portrayal of Joyce. She delivers the perfect combination of a loving, caring and desperate mother who will do anything to get her son back. STRANGER THINGS has become an instant hit and pop culture phenomenon. It’s currently two seasons in on the streaming network, with plans for season three to be released July 2019. I am looking forward to seeing what Ryder does next in her remarkable career.

Essential Ryder:

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