Friday, June 7, 2013


Her eyes -- over-wide, intensely focused -- she looks as if she's 21 not 41.

I look at her and find myself remembering such different, clashing visions of her -- Jerry Lee Lewis' child bride in "Great Balls of Fire,"  Richard Gere's exquisitely young, dying lover in "Autumn in New York," the powerfully dangerous girl who lusted for Proctor, the hero played by Daniel Day Lewis in the "The Crucible."  

She's been an important, interesting, unique actress, more than a star, a real presence in the film industry since she was fifteen-years-old.

Those over-bright eyes -- the stabbing focus of them -- did someone tell the actress what to think,what to have on her mind as an actress, when being photographed?

I wondered if she would disappear after her arrest, her shop-lifting trial in 2002, that the famous lawyer bungled (Mark Geragos who defended Michael Jackson, not well, in one of Michael's trials).

Winona Ryder hasn't disappeared, but I can't turn off my sense that the inner-child of the girl-child she plays -- she IS -- was bent, IS still bent by the smear, the mud, the pity for her that has been in the air around her for nine years.

I remember Bess Myerson -- Miss America, TV commentator -- the headlines about her shoplifting. When I met Bess, I found her "bent" (excessively, nervously self-promoting). Remember the gorgeous "Charlies' Angel" Farrah Fawcet, who shoplifted?  Britney Spears, was accused of shoplifting, and Lindsay Lohan has been accused of shoplifting, more than once.

I shoplifted a fake ring from a 5 and 10cent store when I was ten. Late for an appointment, I shoplifted barrettes when I was 26, but the policeman who caught me, kindly, didn't report me. A couple of  years ago, when the drugstore raised the price on Mineral oil from $ $5, I put a bottle in my purse. (Okay, before I got into the  line at the cash -register, I put in back on the shelf, but the shoplifting intention was there.)

Why does one shop-lift? Anger? A desperate sense of need? Is there something about the danger that makes shoplifting fun, or is it a ruin-yourself, semi-suicidal attempt? 

Anyhow, I really admire Winona Ryder as an artist, a truly committed, gifted, major actress, who works at her work with that big-eyed intense focus that tells us, shouts -- I'm here -- see me -- enjoy me for what I am.

Over the years, she hasn't changed a great deal. The outfits change. The boyfriends change. Her attitude is mostly a mischievous girl, (not a woman), sort of laughing at herself and the situation she finds herself in.

Here's Winona is talking about her role in "Black Swan."

Here are bits from Arthur Miller's television film of "The Crucible," where I think Winona Ryder's performance was stunning.


Carola said...

I shop-lifted vitamins a couple of times when I was in my early 20s and couldn't afford them. Where was my empathy with the financial hardships of small business owners? I had no thought for that. I feel terribly bad about it now.

Anonymous said...

I lived with a gal who was a shoplifter. She was cured of her addition fortunately, when caught, arrested, fined and put on probation for her crime. I think the adrenaline rush from doing so while not getting caught is what spawned her affliction. Winona is a fabulous and beautiful actress, one of my all-time favorites.

Stan said...

I'm an old man but I love her beauty and her charisma on the stage. I forgive her for her past. I stole a plum once and the shop owner called the police...boy did I learn a lesson...Ha!

Anonymous said...

I saw Wynona Ryder in one of the Alien movies and didn't remember the shoplifting charges. There are so many scandals and attempts to discredit people in high places for promotion or gain and so much slanting of the news by the media these days that sometimes I don't know what to think or believe.
The news media cries wolf too often. So often, I think that it is the media, rather than the governments, that runs the world.
So I leave the shoplifting allegations to the star and the store. It's not on my radar.

Anonymous said...

She is lovely. However as far as shoplifting most of us have done it some time in our life time.
I had taken candy to many times to mention. Being poor was my reason, having NO money. However still NO money but I don't shop lift no matter how high prices have went. I look away or don't go to stores.
Winona, I still love the lady, in my eyes she is forgiven and I have forgotten about it. I hope her the best...very best in life. I am glad for this topic, due to the fact we none are perfecto.
Em, you are funny. You made me laugh when you said you put it back before you checked out....Yep, if only others would admit it like goes on.

Linda Phillips said...

Wow, seems like shoplifting is universal. I stole a lipstick from a 5 and 10 when I was 12. I wanted to impress my 14 year old friend who had bragged about her previous thievery. We both took lipsticks and we were both caught.

As far as Winona's acting. I loved her in Girl Interrupted and a number of other films.

I am sure the shoplifting really did hurt her career. I wonder why she did it. I think she had done it a few times before. I suspect that it is some form of compulsion.

Maureen Jacobs said...

Being the same age as Ms. Ryder, I can understand the 'times' she grew up in. The beauty, the talent, and the roles she took etch a different time in my life. Interestingly enough, she grew up and made a poor decision the day she shoplifted. But, what I really think is the moral of this story is that she is just like everyone of us, human. We all make mistakes, we all make poor decisions, we even have skirted the law here or there at least once in our lives. I do not condone her actions, but it really proves that these celebrities, while held up on the pedestals by the very folks who judge them on their mistakes, are impeachable. Imperfect if you will. FYI, something you may not know about Ms. Ryder, she is a natural blonde and dyes her hair the color you see it.