Interview: Winona Ryder Shares Stories From Her Childhood, Stranger Things and More

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Pop Culture News Desk

By M.A. Cassata

In an exclusive interview with Parade, Winona Ryder says she’s an old-soul homebody who binge-watches TV documentaries, loves reading (real books!) and steers clear of social media. “I’m convinced [technology] is going to make everybody go blind!” she says with a laugh. 

Beatnik Baby. Born in rural Minnesota—in a town, Winona, that became her name—to “beatnik” parents, she moved around a bit as a child, and for a time was in a communal-living situation with several other families in California. “The place we lived was, like, 380 acres of redwoods,” she says. “It was beautiful.” It was there that she saw the movie To Kill a Mockingbird projected onto a sheet in a barn. “That was when I really fell in love with movies.”

Outside In. A great student academically, “I definitely had a difficult time socially,” she says. “I was an outsider.” She soon funneled those outsider vibes into memorable performances in movies including LucasHeathers and several successful collaborations with director Tim Burton (“I’ve always felt like I’ve had a weird telepathy with him”), including Edward ScissorhandsBeetlejuice and Frankenweenie

Kudos for Keanu. She’s still great friends with another of her collaborators, John Wick actor Keanu Reeves; they appeared together in four films, most recently Destination Wedding (2018). “He’s one of my favorite people,” she says. “He’s always been there for me, and that’s kind of rare. We have this deep bond.” And, who knows, they might just be married! Though they never dated, director Francis Ford Coppola claims that—by using a real priest for their characters’ wedding in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)—the pair may actually still be “officially” married today. 

Winona Ryder

Passion Project. In 1999, Ryder executive produced a project that truly spoke to her: Girl, Interrupted, about a woman institutionalized after having a nervous breakdown. At the time, she shared her personal struggles with anxiety and depression in the hopes of lessening the stigma of mental health issues. “I talked consciously and deliberately about it, and then I got sort of…” she trails off, dispirited. “I’ve never been diagnosed with anything,” she clarifies. But she laments that her candidness was misinterpreted as “‘I’m crazy’ when I was actually trying to do the opposite!”

TV Mom. After dozens of movie roles, she’s now TV mom Joyce Byers on the hit Netflix series Stranger Things (which returns July 4 for season three). She enjoys working with the show’s central cast of young actors—including Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard and Gaten Matarazzo—and occasionally giving them a morsel or two of advice. “I’m the mom, but I’m not really the mom,” she says. “It’s not my place to be like, ‘No, you don’t have to go on Instagram!’” 
For more about Winona, see Sunday’s Parade or go to Parade.com.

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