Winona Ryder Wiki: Top 5 Facts About Joyce Byers From 'Stranger Things'

Reality Bites. Winona Ryder, "it girl" in the 90s and went from Gen X hipster to Joyce Byers on Stranger Things. The bottom line: she gets it.

By Nikki Flux
Winona Ryder Wiki: Top 5 Facts About Joyce Byers From 'Stranger Things'

FACT: Winona Ryder Is A Gen X Icon

I Know it's hard to believe, but Joyce Byers was cool. Winona Ryder was the shiznit in the 90's in a way that no one else was. Winona Ryder was literally in everything and WAS everything. She is, in spite of herself, THE gen X queen. It's no surprise that Ryder, who's been acting since she was 13 years old, is turning on a whole new generation to her haunted, doe-eyed method acting, in her role as Joyce Byers, on Stranger Things.

"I've worked really hard. I'm not going to apologize for not struggling."

Winona Ryder on her acting career and multiple movies.

Winona Ryder's Top 8 Movies Of All Time

1. Reality Bites (1994) Dir. Ben Stiller In 1994, Ryder embodied "Leilana," a 20-something, who is struggling to find her place in the world after college. The movie spoke to the Generation X's frustration with having no heroes to look up to and the culture shock of entering the workforce. Movies that Winona Ryder excelled at showed a truth to her audience. She was the perfect muse for Ben Stiller, who wrote and directed a movie that captured the essence of the struggle that grinds at the soul of any artist entering corporate America. What happens to graduates at the crossroads of choosing art over commerce and slinging burgers? Reality Bites.

2. Heathers (1988) Dir. Michael Lehmann Winona Ryder plays "Veronica," in this dark comedy about school and suicide. It was before it's time and very controversial in its tone about teen suicide and sociopathy. It's politically incorrect and offensive and sometimes misses the mark, but it's a wonderful time capsule of 80s youth and melodrama, and Ryder is perfect opposite Jack Nicholson-impersonating Christian Slater as "JD," a loose homage to James Dean.

3. Edward Scissorhands (1990) Dir. Tim Burton Tim Burton. Johnny Depp. Winona Ryder. Duh? Need we say more? This movie is compulsory viewing. It's quirky and amazing, and it's the movie that brought Depp and Ryder together as a couple. Their off-camera relationship was as doomed as the star-crossed odd-balls they portray here, and it's delicious.

4. Beetlejuice (1988) Dir. Tim Burton Winona Ryder in all her goth glory as "Lydia." There's a haunted house, a crazy ghost played by Michael Keaton and a whacky Gena Davis. Not to mention the shrunken head scene in the waiting room. Classic. It's literally THE best thing ever. Watch it.

5. Girl Interrupted (1999) Dir. James Mangold Ryder was largely overlooked in her role as "Susanna Kaysen" opposite Angelina Jolie. Although Jolie took home the Oscar; it was Winona Ryder's grounded and internal performance that is the most interesting and captivating. Ryder's portrayal of a suicidal, borderline personality disorder-suffering protagonist, is incendiary and is the glue that holds the movie together. Brilliant.

6. Black Swan (2010) Dir. Darren Aronofsky An honorable mention, because it's only a small role, in this Oscar-winning movie. Winona Ryder is a scene-stealer opposite Natalie Portman and goes full-tilt psycho as the aging star ballerina, "Beth." It's one of the best-unhinged performances Winona Ryder has ever done. SPOILER ALERT: She stabs her own face.

7. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) Dir. Francis Ford Coppola Winona plays two roles here as "Mina Harker," Keanu Reeves' fiance and also embodies the re-incarnation of Dracula's lover, "Elisabeta" and holds her own, opposite Gary Oldman and Sir Anthony Hopkins. It was heavily criticised at the time of its release for the acting, but this ambitious film is mesmerizing to look at, in retrospect. You totally buy that Vlad the impaler wanted Winona Ryder so badly. It's a visual feast and deserves to be on the list.

8. A Scanner Darkly (2006) Dir. Richard Linklater Winona Ryder returned to making movies five years, after her conviction for felony shoplifting in 2001. If you don't know this, Philip K Dick's short sci-fi novels have been turned into numerous movies, including Blade Runner. This movie is also based on one of his novels. Ryder plays a duplicitous character, "Donna" extremely well and is the rudder that keeps Keanu Reeves character rolling along. She is an oddly sympathetic choice for a role that, in another actress' hands, would have been annoying.


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She Said "NO" To Francis Ford Coppola

After shooting three movies back-to-back - the 90s icon, Winona Ryder, actually traveled to Italy, where Director Francis Ford Coppola had begun principal photography on, "The Godfather Part 3." As we all know, the Godfather Part 1 and Part 2 are revered movies and launched the careers of Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. Just as soon as she arrived, Winona Ryder left, turning down the role to play Al Pacino's daughter. The role was given to Sophia Coppola, who was universally panned by fans and critics; but Ryder trusted her gut and returned to the states. The actress is fearless and doesn't mind being unpopular and in this instance, put her health first. She has simply had a fever, was exhausted and overworked. No drama.

"I'd done three films in a row. I flew to Rome with a terrible upper-respiratory infection and a 104-degree fever. I literally couldn't move. The studio doctor told me to go home, said I was too sick to work. It wasn't my choice. It was out of my hands. Sure it's disappointing, devastating in fact. I wish it didn't happen, but it did."

Winona Ryder on dropping out of The Godfather Part 3

1. Winona's Back From a 6 Year Dry Spell

Stranger Things actress Winona Ryder is a convicted felon. Being in the spotlight since she was a child actor, left the actress in a state of flux. She had everything, and one act of self-sabotage sent her into career Siberia for almost six years. In 2001, sweet and harried Joyce Byers, aka Winona Ryder, ran afoul of the law. On the surface, one could say Winona Ryder had it all, so why, for goodness sakes, would she need to steal anything? Embarrassingly, it seemed, the wealthiest actress in the world got caught shoplifting, at Saks Fifth Avenue, in Beverly Hills. The Stranger Things actress endured a media frenzy during the trial and even got her arm broken, after a tussle with an overzealous member of the paparazzi, who hit her with a boom mic on her way to court. She paid the $10,000 plus fine, got counseling, did community service and took a step back, for the first time in her life. In private, Winona Ryder understood that she needed a break and the behavior was a symptom of her rejecting the goldfish bowl that her life had become. In fact, the media circus that followed her arrest and trial, caused an already private actress, to retire from making movies. It wasn't until 2009, Winona Ryder returned to movies, playing Spock's mother, in Star Trek. Ryder followed up that small role, with a stand-out performance in 2010's Black Swan. Winona Ryder knows how to play unhinged, and she does it immaculately, opposite Natalie Portman. She stuck to a few small roles on TV, but nothing of note; until landing the role of Joyce Byers on Stranger Things in 2015. The rest is history.

"My hiatus. Whatever they want to call it – I did take time off. It was mutual, I think. I just went through a tough time."

Winona Ryder on her decision to step away from the spotlight.

2. Stranger Things: Joyce Byers Was Once Engaged to Johnny Depp

Yes, that's right. You heard correctly. Sweet Joyce Byers, Will's mom from Stranger Things, aka Winona Ryder, was once engaged to Johnny Depp, in his heartthrob heydey, when he was 27, and she was 18. Johnny Depp became Ryder's boyfriend almost immediately after meeting the actress on the set of "Edward Scissorhands," in 1990. He proposed just five months after dating her and infamously tattooed "Winona Forever" on his arm. All's fair in love and war. The couple broke up in 1993 and Johnny changed his tattoo to "Wino Forever." Currently, Winona Ryder is in a healthy long-term relationship with designer Scott Mackinlay Hahn, her boyfriend of 6 years. Ryder's boyfriend is socially conscious and has created a clothing line made from organic cotton called "Loomstate." It should be noted, that Ryder's boyfriend, Scott Mackinlay Hahn is at the forefront of the ethical sourcing of goods in business. Scott Mackinlay Hahn had an idea to improve the quality of end-use products, by utilizing the purest materials. By providing a qualitative experience for both the customer and the retailer, Scott Mackinlay Hahn is a breath of fresh air in a consumer-driven market. Winona Ryder not only snagged herself a gorgeous fox of a boyfriend Scott Mackinlay Hahn; but one who embodies an eco-friendly ethic across-the-board. Even though Stranger Things Winona Ryder doesn't see herself getting married anytime soon, they are blissfully happy.

THEY ARE JUST TOO ADORABLE FOR THIS WORLD #winonaryder #ScottMackinlayHahn

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Winona Ryder Explains Why She's Never Been Married | Entertainment Tonight

"I was very depressed after breaking off my engagement with Johnny years ago. I was embarrassingly dramatic at the time, but you have to remember I was only 19 years old."

Winona Ryder on her breakup with Johnny Depp.

3. Winona Ryder Is Adorkable

Winona Ryder hates social media and barely knows how to take a selfie. She's not a snob or being new-age about it - it just simply doesn't interest her. While all of the kids on Stranger Things have Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter accounts, good old mom Joyce Byers, aka Winona Ryder, supreme Gen X hipster, has no clue - on purpose. Ryder eschews activities that feed the desire for external validation. She's come a long way since her early role in 1986's "Lucas" at just 13 years old. She's like an elder statesman on the set of Stranger Things and is pragmatic about our culture's whims and doesn't get caught up in doing things because everyone else does. She's always marched to the beat of her own drummer.

“One of my worst fears is being a self-indulgent person."

Stranger Things star Winona Ryder on reluctance towards all things social media.

4. Winona Ryder's Joyce Byers Brings Method Acting To Stranger Things

Joyce Byers cries for hours folks. That's right. Winona Ryder doesn't resort to glycerine drops, which some actors use for creating tears when the well dries up. Winona stays in character for hours when shooting a scene that requires an emotional pound of flesh; unflinchingly so. Audiences have noticed that the endearing harried mom, embodied by Winona Ryder, spends most of the episodes in seasons 1 and 2, on the verge of an emotional breakdown. The cast and crew marvel at Winona Ryder's commitment to her character and her willingness to just go there, emotionally, take after take, humbly requesting a bottle of water on occasion, to sustain the tears.

“I’m sort of old school in my approach to acting. Like, if I have to cry, I have to really cry. I’m allergic to the thing they use [to help actors cry] if you literally run out of tears,” says Ryder. “There are some people who can turn it on and turn it off or use this stuff, but I really have to go there mentally. Usually on a film there’s a couple of scenes, but this was my first time doing eight episodes of something, and let me tell you, crying all day.”

Winona Ryder on playing Joyce Byers - old school all the way.

5. Winona's Net Worth Grows With Ageing

Winona Ryder is truly the reluctant movie star. Her acting career began in 1986, and she's made most of her wealth through acting alone. Her net worth is 18 million dollars, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In spite of her arrest in 2001, her film roles in multiple movies, such as the classics "Mermaids," "Heathers," "Lucas," "Beetlejuice," "Little Women," "Reality Bites," "Girl Interrupted" and "Black Swan," have contributed significantly to her healthy net worth. Now, playing our favorite mom on Stranger Things will further increase Winona Ryder's net worth for her and generations to come - if she decides to start a family with her boyfriend, Scott Mackinlay Hahn. Padding the net worth coffers again, Winona Ryder appears very busy since resuming her career in 2009/10. In addition to playing Joyce Byers on Stranger Things; she recently appeared in the feature film “Experimenter,” opposite Peter Sarsgaard and "Show Me A Hero," an HBO miniseries. Winona Ryder has successfully made the transition from child actress to adult. It may have felt like she had to allow Hollywood to play catch up. She's always had the looks and talent. At 45 years old; they have to frump her up to play Joyce Byers really. Winona Ryder is gorgeous, without a line on her face. A blessing and a curse because most of her 30s were spent in that odd space where casting directors wouldn't see her for roles her age because she looked too young (still does) and was heavily identified with youthful roles in her Gen X heyday. Her looks, like her net worth, have improved with age; like a fine wine. She may not call it a comeback, but Winona Ryder is certainly back in a big way, and we all love her for it. No one does the epic Joyce Byers stutter cry, bewilderment, and anger, like Winona. Welcome back.

I'm actually really enjoying getting older because I went through a period of time where I was technically old enough for roles but always associated with younger ones. The whole of my thirties was spent that way. Now that I'm in my forties it's getting a little bit easier."

Winona Ryder on her difficult 30s in acting.

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With Season 3 of Stranger Things, Winona Ryder's role as Joyce Byers gets deeper and there is so much fantastic acting from you. Joyce Byers will not be Joyce Byers without Winona. 

As the popularity of Stranger Things increases, we truly hope that her popularity and stardom will also increase to show how good she is as an actor!