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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 20:08 GMT
Winona Ryder's eclectic career
Winona Ryder
Ryder has twice been nominated for an Oscar
BBC News Online takes a look at the eclectic career of actress Winona Ryder who has been found guilty of shoplifting by a jury in Beverly Hills.

Born in 1971, Winona Horowitz was named after her hometown in the US state of Minnesota, the daughter of parents who were part of the 60s counter-culture.

Her parents were friends of Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and her godfather was the LSD proselytiser Timothy Leary.

She grew up in a house where a high value was placed on reading, and her personal bible was JD Salinger's coming-of-age novel, The Catcher In The Rye.

She seems to have discovered her vocation early, enrolling in acting classes at the American Conservatory Theater at 10 - and auditioning for her first film, Desert Bloom, at 13.

Stage name

She failed the audition but came to the notice of director David Seltzer.

Winona Ryder and Martin Scorsese
Ryder has called Scorsese "the best in the world"
Seltzer cast her in his high school drama Lucas, for which she adopted the stage surname Ryder in preference to her family name - apparently inspired by rock artist Mitch Ryder.

Ryder began a romance with Johnny Depp at 17 and made a series of films with mixed fortunes - Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael and Mermaids - as well as narrowly missing the role of Mary Corleone in The Godfather: Part III due to stomach flu.

Independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch wrote a special part for Ryder in his anthology Night on Earth, in which she played an LA taxi driver who dreams of becoming a mechanic.

But Ryder's big break was spurred by the offer of a part in a TV movie of the Dracula story.

Oscar nomination

Seeing the film's potential, she took the script of Bram Stoker's Dracula to director Francis Ford Coppola and he agreed to film it - resulting in a stylish hit which showed Ryder's ability to take on a mature, period role.

Winona Ryder
Ryder has had a number of high-profile romances
Her next role gave the actress her first Oscar nomination.

Martin Scorsese, whom Ryder has called "the best director in the world", directed her as May Welland in The Age of Innocence, a lavish adaptation of Edith Wharton's merciless portrait of 19th Century New York aristocracy.

Another Oscar nomination followed for performance as Jo March in Little Women, which Ryder dedicated to Polly Klaas, a young girl from Ryder's hometown who was kidnapped and murdered in 1993.

Though her Oscar nominations have led some to think of Ryder as the quintessential 19th Century heroine, her recent output has been extremely eclectic.


In 1996, she was part of the star-studded cast of Al Pacino's Looking for Richard, playing Lady Anne in the documentary about performing William Shakespeare's Richard III.

And she reunited with her Age of Innocence co-star and ex-boyfriend Daniel Day-Lewis in an adaptation of Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

Ryder also battled aliens alongside Sigourney Weaver's in Alien Resurrection and played an irresponsible actress in Woody Allen's Celebrity.

She had a starring role in James Mangold's 1999 adaptation of the Susanna Kaysen novel Girl, Interrupted - for which she also had an executive producer credit.

She was also temporarily involved in another high-profile romance, with Matt Damon.

Ryder's latest work sees her as Adam Sandler's love interest in Mr Deeds and also alongside Al Pacino in Simone.

See also:

06 Nov 02 | Showbiz
06 Nov 02 | Showbiz
14 Dec 01 | Showbiz
14 Aug 01 | Film
15 Aug 01 | Film
28 Mar 00 | Oscars 2000
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