For a time, Winona Ryder was on every tabloid cover back in 2001. After making a career comeback with the 1999 film Girl Interrupted, the actress saw her career and life in a tailspin when she was arrested at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. At the time of her arrest, she was accused of stealing $5,000 of designer clothes from the store.
Ryder went on to a 2002 trial, which ended with the actress being convicted of grand theft and vandalism. Her felony convictions were eventually reduced to misdemeanors, and her three years of supervised probation was changed to unsupervised probation. Judge Fox said he wanted Ms. Ryder to be able to return to her acting career, and he praised her good behavior since her conviction.
The actress was also ordered to pay $3,700 in fees and $6,355 in restitution to the store, in addition to attending psychological and drug counseling.
When Ryder was in court, it was reported that the actress stole from the store for a role. At the time, the security chief at Saks Fifth stated that Ryder told him that this was all method acting.
Courtroom fashion: Winona Ryder in Beverly Hills Municipal Court in 2002 for sentencing in her shoplifting case pic.twitter.com/Rumxajb6v9
— TMZ Legal (@TMZlegal) July 12, 2014
At the time of his testimony, Kenneth Evans said, “She said, ‘I’m sorry for what I did. My director directed me to shoplift for a role I was preparing.” He described the actress as being “polite and apologetic.”
As stated, much was said about the actress’ mental health. At the time, the case involving Ryder got huge attention from the press, with multiple narratives that alleged the actress was mentally unstable. CBS News questioned whether or not the actress was addicted to pain killers.
All of this was fueled by a probation report which revealed that the actress had filled 37 prescriptions under different aliases. Her attorney tried to keep the report sealed for Ryder’s anonymity, but the report was released, and the media ran with it.
That said, the probation officer said in the report, “While the defendant may have had reason in the past that necessitated her use of opiate pain killers, it would appear to the undersigned, as well as others, that the defendant is addicted to pain medication…,”
It wasn’t until 2009 with a role in Star Trek, followed by a scene-stealing role in Black Swan, that Ryder stepped back in the limelight for her work. Now, fifteen years after the case made headlines, Winona Ryder opened up about the whole thing.
While she didn’t clarify anything related to the theft charges, Ryder did state that it wasn’t “the crime of the century” like many had asserted.
In an interview with Porter magazine, Ryder said:
“Psychologically, I must have been at a place where I just wanted to stop,” the actress, who’s currently promoting her new Netflix show, Stranger Things, said of the whole thing. “I won’t get into what happened, but it wasn’t what people think. And it wasn’t like the crime of the century! But it allowed me time that I really needed, where I went back to San Francisco and got back into things that … I just had other interests, frankly.”
— Kyle Lambert (@kylelambert) July 29, 2016
As for disappearing from the limelight to give herself some time to get back to her day to day life and “other interests,” Ryder said there were many voices that told her she was doing the wrong thing by not working regularly in the business.
“People would tell me, ‘Oh, you should be doing this, or that, and you have to keep working otherwise people will forget about you, but I learned to stop listening to those voices.”
That said, when she did return to the acting world, the actress experienced problems getting work that was age appropriate. Winona stated that many filmmakers still saw her as the breakout girl from the 80s and 90s.
“They didn’t really buy me as my age. It’s that line in First Wives Club — ‘There are three ages for women: babe, district attorney and Driving Miss Daisy!’ I just never got to play that district attorney.”
Now that the actress has Stranger Things with Netflix, it sounds like she finally found her home in the business.
[Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP]