Winona Ryder is proud of her goth-icon status, but don’t call her ‘grunge’


This just confirms it for me: Nylon is the modern version of Jane/Sassy magazine. Whenever I cover a Nylon interview, the editorials and the write-ups always remind me so strongly of growing up in the 1990s and LIVING for Sassy and Jane. More so Jane. And now Nylon has the perfect ‘90s cover girl, Winona Ryder. And if that isn’t enough ‘90s nostaglia for you, Winona even talks about being a hero to goths and whether she was ever really “grunge.” I can smell the clove cigarettes and dirty flannel from here. Quick, someone get me a pair of Doc Martens and some Manic Panic dye in electric blue!! You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

How she got through her tough times: “You just do. In the scheme of things, there are much bigger problems to worry about.”

When asked how she feels about being a goth icon: “I feel kind of proud, I guess, but I can’t take full credit,” she says. She cites The Cure’s Robert Smith, but that’s music; she was the queen purveyor of ’90s goth vibes in film…“It’s flattering to me. It was a long time ago, but I’ve always felt sort of attached to that time. I was just listening to [The Cure’s] ‘Pictures of You’ because I have these old mixtapes that I don’t know what to do with—I’m like, ‘How do I transfer them?’ I still have a tape deck.”

She never embraced the grunge label though: “That whole label was a little bit weird. I somehow got sucked into that. Not by choice, because I was actually listening to Judy Garland albums.”

She’s into other eras: “I was perhaps a little unusual. I really was always drawn to other eras. I think actors, on some weird level, feel like displaced souls. I have had a lot of conversations about this, and part of it just may be from steeping ourselves in the history of film and the things we’re drawn to, like period pieces.”

How she cries on-camera: “The only way I know how is to really go there… I don’t want people bringing up personal things. I think that can damage an actor, and I know a lot of people who have been incredibly hurt. There are things in my life that I’ve been through that I do not want to exploit. It’s hard, though, when it’s crunch time and you’re losing the light or we only have 20 minutes left. It’s weird. There are certain things that do make me cry, but I feel like they’re almost sacred,” she says. Ryder shows me one of her tricks: She lays her hands on her lap, palms up and open. “If you put your hands up, you feel vulnerable. It’s the little things. I learned that from Jennifer Jason Leigh when I was just starting out.”

She was Beetlejuice’s Lydia: “That was sort of what I looked like. That was my hair—I was super pale. They really just put some powder on me.”

Being 44 years old: “I never really had any hang-ups about aging. I’m not trying in any way to be insensitive to the conversations about ageism going on, because I know it’s definitely a struggle. I think just, for me, part of it is probably having started so young and that desire I had—I was always hanging out with, or trying to hang out with, the ‘grown-ups.’”

[From Nylon]

Minus a few questions about social media and her current projects, this interview could have taken place in 1995, no problem. I still feel like Winona is that goth girl, the pale young woman in all-black, listening to her mix tapes and collecting books of poetry. I mean… she still has her mix tapes, people. It occurred to me as I read this too: Winona wasn’t just grunge-adjacent and a goth icon, she was also a proto-hipster. Those goths and grungers just morphed into modern hipsters, only in Winona’s case, it’s authentic. This is who she’s always been.


Photos courtesy of Nylon.

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23 Responses to “Winona Ryder is proud of her goth-icon status, but don’t call her ‘grunge’”

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  1. perplexed says:

    The way she expresses herself hasn’t changed much from the’90s. She still talks about The Catcher in the Rye.

  2. Becks says:

    Sassy! Oh how I miss the 90s!

    Winona Forever.

  3. Shambles says:

    Winona is a rock star.

    She is what Johnny Depp wishes he could be. I like to think he sees these editorials and ugly cries all over them. He should. She’s gorgeous.

  4. JustCrimmles says:

    I hoarded Sassy (when I could find it) and Jane. Do magazines ever get reissued? I’d buy all of them, I don’t care that 90210 has been off the air for nearly two decades, or that Jane Pratt was the celebrity ass kisser to end all ass kissers.

  5. Zuzus Girl says:

    She always seems like a lost soul to me.

  6. elns says:

    Jane Magazine. Oh snap, takin’ me back!
    I have heart for Winnie. I don’t know if it’s because we’re roughly the same age and therefore all her growing pains seem more relatable and forgivable or maybe I’m a bigger fan than I thought. i got really defensive the other day when my friend ragged on her acting skills. ha! Either way, Winnie 4vah. I was never a Cure girl though. More Morrisey for the music. As far as the Grunge label my theory is that was from that horrible secret love/hate movie Reality Bites or her dating the grunge / alt rock men.

  7. mkyarwood says:

    Fun fact: I own five pairs of Doc Martens, and I have a jar of Manic Panic in Electric blue upstairs!

  8. Red says:

    It saddens me that I hear about Sassy magazine and how awesome it was, since I’m too young to even remember it existing!

    • JustCrimmles says:

      There are many tumblrs that exist for this very purpose 😉 they might not be quite the same, but it beats never seeing Sassy at all.

  9. pikawho? says:

    Jane along with Elle Girl were my mainstays as a teen. Remember the hot dude centrefolds in Jane? Hahahaha

    Winona is so vulnerable and unguarded in interviews, I really like her.

  10. I know I will probably be in the minority here, but I can’t stand her. She killed Little Women for me with her whiny and endlessly irritating performance.
    Also, she never took responsibility for taking all that clothing and still acts like it’s no big deal. Sorry, but it is a big deal when you steal from others and remain unapologetic about it.

    • Marie says:

      I hated Little Women but I don’t blame Winona so much as L.M. Alcott. No Jo/Laurie is hard to stomach in the books but with the movie and Christian Bale as Laurie? Outrageous!

    • Granger says:

      She was a terrible choice for Jo. Jo is gangly and awkward, with big feet and a loud voice. Winona is tiny and gamine, with a soft whiny voice, and she brought no charisma to that role.

  11. shannon says:

    I love her and I always will. I do think she has had subtle work done.

  12. EG says:

    She absolutely KILLED it in Stranger Things. If you haven’t seen it, it is a must-watch for Winona alone! I actually never knew she was such an amazing actress before becoming addicted to that show. Love Winona forever!!!

    • Borgqueen says:

      I am watching it and her acting skills are on point. I always felt she got a bad rap about her pill addiction, though no one ever talks about how it got started in the first place. She and Johnny were fucked up and he either shot her or pushed her through a glass door and she needed surgery to repair injury. She got addicted while recovering and still partying with Johnny.

  13. ellemc says:

    Is it just me or has she lost a lot of weight recently? I hope it is just Photoshop

    • Alexi says:

      Agreed. She’s extremely thin. And I also think she has had tons of plastic surgery. But she is stunning, frank, intelligent….and I love her in “Stranger Things” – although some of her mannerisms and acting tones are exactly the same from “Heathers”.

      I hope she refrains from more plastic surgery…..and I thought her work in “Black Swan” was superb.

      Very happy a real star is back and getting some limelight and coverage. Xoxox to Winona from another Scorpio sister. Thx for being gorgeous, real, talented, and a beauty.