Sunday, January 2, 2011


"She's someone that has been the prima ballerina; has been the star. She is now of an age where they're going to replace her."

-Winona Ryder, describing her role in Black Swan.

Winona Ryder was once the it girl. For quite a long stretch she was the actress everyone wanted in their film to give it that indie street cred and yet critics and studios loved her too. She could do little wrong.

Then she got caught shoplifting. It has taken Hollywood a long time to forgive. With all the many sins of actors and actresses; did the punishment fit the crime?

Literally you could argue it did not, as over 5000 other people who committed the same crime received the option of a no contest/misdemeanor charge. Ryder was instead charged with 4 felonies.

Career wise, she had a 4 year hiatus where she worked very little. Seems some by choice and some not.   She would later admit she has suffered from depression for some time.

I always admired Ryder for not being more screwed up actually. To put her upbringing in some context consider this:

Ryder and her family grew up in a hippie commune called Rainbow, to a Buddhist mother and atheist father.  Her first exposure to movies was watching them on a screen in a barn. This was rare enough as there was generally no electricity on the 300 acres they shared with 7 other families.

Ryder's godfather was LSD guru Timothy Leary.

She made her film debut at age 15 in Lucas, and by 17 was famous, having starred in Beetlejuice.

Natalie Portman's first starring role was at the age of just 12. She starred in The Professional as a young girl who's family is murdered. She is pseudo adopted by a professional hit man. The role was understandably controversial for such a young girl. The whole film depended on her acting ability and she pulled it off.

She too had a 4 year period of working very little, as she attended Harvard and graduated with a degree in psychology.

Now Portman is starring in Black Swan. She stars as a young ballerina obsessed with becoming the prima ballerina in her company. She does, and the dancer she replaces is portrayed by Ryder.

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