Winona Ryder has seen a career renaissance thanks to Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”
“The reaction has been completely overwhelming, in the best possible way,” Ryder said of the thriller, which is her first TV series.
Ryder has been a household name for most of the past 30 years, thanks to roles in late-’80s hits such as “Beetlejuice,” “Heathers” and “Edward Scissorhands.” Her film debut came at age 14 in 1986’s “Lucas.”
The star, whose career took a tumble after a 2001 shoplifting arrest, has returned this summer with one of her biggest hits in years. The Netflix thriller centers on a young boy who mysteriously disappears in 1980s suburban America. Ryder plays the boy’s frazzled single mother, Joyce.
She said she has tried hard not to get distracted by the media reaction to the show.
“I have a good system: My parents read everything and forward me the best stuff,” the Oscar-nominated actress told reporters Wednesday at the Television Critics’ Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills.
“I have a lot of compassion for Joyce,” Ryder said. “She wasn’t perfect: She was complicated, struggling. She carried around a lot of guilt that she was leaning on her older son. She’s like a lot of women I know who are really good people and are just trying to get by in the best way.
“I appreciated her flaws,” she added. “There’s nothing cookie-cutter or perfect about her.”
Evolution of Winona Ryder, From 'Beetlejuice' to 'Stranger Things' (Photos)
Over the last 30 years, Winona Ryder has played everything from a disillusioned high schooler to a stressed-out mom.
"Lucas" (1986) Ryder was just 14 when she made her screen debut in this coming-of-age story, playing the best friend to a lonely high-school nerd.
"Beetlejuice" (1988) Ryder's big breakthrough came in Tim Burton's comic horror fantasy "Beetlejuice," playing goth teen Lydia, whose parents are haunted by an irritating spirit played by Michael Keaton.
Ryder went on to have a tempestuous affair with her "Edward Scissorhands" costar Johnny Depp, who got a tattoo on his right arm that read "Winona Forever." After the pair broke up, he altered it to read "Wino Forever," which seemed easier to live up to.
"The Age of Innocence" (1993) Ryder played the American society girl wooed by Daniel Day-Lewis in this adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel, directed by Martin Scorsese. Ryder scored an Oscar nomination for her work.
In 1993, Ryder offered a reward of $2000,000 for the safe return of Polly Klaas, a 12-year-old girl who disappeared from her mother's home in Petaluma, California, where Ryder was raised. Klaas was later found strangled.
"Reality Bites" (1994) Ben Stiller's directorial debut and a quintessential Gen X document, with Ryder among a group of Houston college grads struggling with life and love.
"Little Women" (1994) The fifth screen adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel about an East Coast family just after the Civil War. Ryder played the emotional Jo, an aspiring writer, a classic role for which she was again nominated for an Oscar.
"Alien: Resurrection" (1997) Ryder dove straight into the sci-fi genre with this fourth installment in the "Alien" franchise. She played Annalee, a spaceship crew member with a secret.
Ryder's career was temporarily sidetracked in 2001, when she was arrested for shoplifting at Saks Fifth Avenue (here she appeared in court in 2003 with her lawyer, Mark Geragos). She later called the arrest "the best thing that could have happened" as she reassessed her career and life values.
"Mr. Deeds" (2002) A rare foray into broad comedy for Ryder, who played the tabloid reporter chasing Adam Sandler in this remake of "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town."