Press Article

What’s On TV, April 2003. “The Day Ryder Did A Runner” by Chris Twomey, featuring interview with Nigel.


Few could believe it when Winona Ryder was arrested for shoplifting in December 2001. In fact, it could so easily have been a made-up tabloid tale if it wasn’t for the CCTV footage showing the star cramming 17 items of clothing into her bag in a posh Beverly Hills store.

What was the millionairess thinking? ‘In Hollywood, it’s well known that many celebrities shoplift, and stores usually turned a blind eye because they’re spending so much money,’ claims Nigel Goodall, author of Winona Ryder – The Biography, who features in this weeks Channel 4 documentary The Real Winona Ryder.

‘However in this instance, they weren’t going to. She was either in need of something, or on something. Or maybe she just did it for the sheer thrill. She’s always had a clean cut image – so perhaps maybe it was a conscious way of destroying that.’

But along with her clean cut image, the star of films such as Beetlejuice (1988) Mermaids (1990) and Little Women (1994) had out her reputation at risk.

‘Up until the shoplifting saga, she was probably the most respected actress in Hollywood,’ says Nigel. ‘She would always go after well-written scripts.’

So what caused Winona to self-destruct? There are various theories, including an alleged addiction to pain medication. There were also reports her behaviour was linked to her break-up from fellow actor Matt Damon.

But whatever the reason, it was an oddly detached-looking Winona who sat in court last December when her case came to trial. She was found guilty, sentenced to 480 hours of community service and ordered to have counselling.

‘The question Hollywood is asking is “Does she feel any remorse?” because it wasn’t displayed,’ says Nigel. ‘If I were Winona’s manager, I’d tell her to lie low for a while, then we’d find a really great movie and come back with a bang. After all, Hugh Grant’s Divine Brown scandal didn’t do any long-term harm to his career.’