And inevitably when this happens, she starts thinking about what it is people think they know about her, which is never a good idea, and the conversation never really recovers. ) and bats a set of eyelashes as dark and lush as marabou dipped in squid ink, then moves on, and if it's a gambit it's working pretty well so far, honestly.—instead of waiting for Randy the Ram's heart to explode, we're waiting for Natalie Portman, as a ballerina driven to the edge by her boundary-defying mom (Barbara Hershey) and a preening evil-Balanchine type (Vincent Cassel), to go crazy or break a leg, and feminine signifiers like lipstick, ribbons, feathers, toe shoes, cake, tulle, blood, and orchids stand in for 'roids and staples, but the awful anticipation is the same.And it's interesting that we're talking about this right now, Ryder and I, because for an hour or so we've been sitting in a booth in the ground-floor restaurant of a hotel in Manhattan, one of those almost purgatorially anonymous luxury filing cabinets uptown by the park, and we've been having the Philip Roth conversation, metaphorically speaking. Ryder's in it for maybe ten minutes, and all of them are crazy and important.So began a streak where—even though she never became a huge box-office draw—every project she touched had a pop life.Or maybe she brought the pop life with her wherever she went.Still—she owned the decade, Zeitgeist-wise., directed by Jim Jarmusch, 1991. Her tough-cookie line readings don't really play; Ryder the actress is too visibly gaga for Rowlands. I'm sure there's tons of girls who want to be in movies... But, y'know, I mean, I appreciate it." This is the key to the whole thing—like all the great rock stars of her era, Winona made you think she could take or leave it, that she'd be just as happy going off somewhere and rereading , directed by Ben Stiller, 1994.They talk past each other, like people do in Jim Jarmusch movies, and then Rowlands offers Ryder a part in a movie. "Are you saying you just wouldn't be in being a movie star? " She stops, frustrated—it's not coming out right. The movie is Gen X halfheartedly pleading its case to history; the only jokes that really land are the ones Stiller aims at MTV-sanctioned faux-alternative culture, because as the former star and co-creator of MTV's long enough to tell her, "All you have to be by the age of 23 is yourself." Ryder was about that age here, and had already checked herself into a psychiatric clinic, for anxiety and depression.
reboot last year, where Zachary Quinto, just six years younger than Ryder, played Spock, and Ryder, in a weird Grey Gardens head scarf, played his mom, and how weird that was, even in the context of a movie involving time travel.The character is a raging mascara-smeared wreck who embodies, in a Ghost of Christmas Future kind of way, everything the movie has to say about the terrible toll performance extracts from young women.It's about ballerinas, but it could just as easily be about actresses. Ryder's 39, a former ingenue herself, and casting her as the cracked-mirror version of Portman, who's ten years younger and an emplar of a breed of actress that essentially didn't exist as a Hollywood commodity pre-Winona, opens up all kinds of meta-resonances.But by then it was the turn of the '90s, Nirvana was tuning up somewhere out in Washington, and quirkyindiewhateverism was about to have a moment in the spotlight, a moment for which Winona—luminous and vulnerable and well-read and skeptical in fundamental ways about all this attention—is sort of the perfect movie star.Hip musicians named songs after her—countrified sad-boy ballads, sarcastic feedback mash notes.Ryder—tiny, in a newsboy cap and a City Lights Bookstore T-shirt and a tangle of gold necklaces—has been talking about the (A Mel Gibson anecdote: "I remember, like, fifteen years ago, I was at one of those big Hollywood parties. She's the former ingenue who refuses to go quietly when Cassel pushes her aside in favor of Portman. I was like, ' He's anti-Semitic and he's homophobic.' No one believed me! But everything I think I know about Winona Ryder, famous actress, is sort of burning a hole in my pocket, and I'm starting to wonder if she's doing this on purpose, trying to blow past that moment where we acknowledge the room's considerable elephant population.("I got really wiped out, and I had a semi-breakdown.I wasn't sleeping, I didn't know who I was because of different roles," she says.) She whispers back, "I don't know who that is anymore," and for a minute it's not the character talking, it's Ryder, and a gulf opens up in the story and threatens to swallow her.Lydia Deetz basically pioneered the whole sullen-goth-chick thing in mainstream culture.(The first Hot Topic store opened the following year, in a mall just off the 405 freeway.) at the last minute; Sofia Coppola stepped in.