Winona Ryder: The Biography

Published in 1998 by Blake Publishing. Nominated for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 1999.

Winona Ryder  

Using none of the traditional routes, Winona Ryder has established has herself as the single most exciting actress of her generation. A child star who literally grew up in front of the camera, Winona is the first American actress since Natalie Wood successfully to transcend a career from adolescence to adulthood in the full glare of the Hollywood spotlight. From her first moments on screen in David Seltzer’s Lucas to starring alongside Sigourney Weaver in Alien Resurrection, Winona Ryder has been someone to watch.

From her Hollywood movie debut at the age of thirteen, this affectionate biography traces the events and circumstances that have shaped Winona’s career and propelled her from teen star to cultural icon. Despite rejecting the advice of agents, directors and other Hollywood insiders, Winona has built a career strictly on her own terms with her early teen misfit roles in such cult classics as Beetlejuice, Heathers, and Edwards Scissorhands. Scorning the usual brat-pack blockbusters and small-screen work, her later mature roles in The Age of Innocence, Little Women and The Crucible have won her both critical acclaim and the respect and admiration of fans around the world.

Chosen as one of the Daily Telegraph “Books For Christmas” and read by Winona’s family, friends and colleagues, the book tells a uniquely different Hollywood story from Winona’s unconventional childhood raised on a Californian commune surrounded by such counterculture figures as Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and her late godfather Timothy Leary, to the troubled school years of being “gay bashed” that led to her enrolment in acting classes at San Francisco’s prestigious American Conservatory Theater. It follows Winona from making her first movie, borrowing her name from sixties rocker Mitch Ryder to the near-death experience she suffered as a child, her fear of kidnappers and serial killers, and her recurring problems with insomnia and physical exhaustion that led to her work on Mermaids being suspended and subsequent departure from the set of The Godfather Part III.

With a complete filmography including miscellaneous appearances, nominations and awards and works in progress – and 16 pages of exclusive candid photos and movie stills, some never seen before, Winona Ryder – The Biography is an insider’s look at Hollywood’s brightest and most mysterious young talent that examines an astonishing career in a decade of making 20 films, which has included the notoriety of being engaged to Hollywood rebel Johnny Depp, a crusade to find abducted child Polly Klass’s killer, and the drive that causes Winona to be constantly working in spite of her refusal to conform to the Hollywood ideal of fame.