Teens and tweens who love Winona Ryder as badass mom Joyce Beyers on the 1980s-themed series, “Stranger Things,” might be surprised to learn the actress was a teen icon in her own right. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
July 20 (UPI) — Teens and tweens who love Winona Ryder as badass middle-aged mom Joyce Beyers on Stranger Things might be surprised to learn the 50-year-old actress was the It Girl of the 1980s and ’90s, playing a string of smart, sardonic and iconic young women in some of the era’s best loved films.
Here are 10 of her biggest roles:
‘Lucas’ (1986) — DVD
Ryder plays Rina, a lovestruck high-school freshman friend-zoned by the nerdy title character (Corey Haim), who is infatuated with older cheerleader Maggie (Kerri Green), the girlfriend of his protector from bullies, football player Cappie (Charlie Sheen). As Rina pines for Lucas, the boy quits their school marching band and heads to the football field where he is seriously hurt in an effort to impress Maggie. As he recovers from his injuries, he realizes he and Maggie will never be more than friends. He returns to school where his classmates, even those who tormented him, honor his heart and courage by presenting him with an oversized team jacket and applauding him.
‘Beetlejuice’ (1988) — Pay-per-view platforms
In Tim Burton’s horror-comedy, Ryder stars as the death-obsessed Lydia, who moves into a Connecticut farmhouse with her outrageous New York City parents Charles and Delia (Jeffrey Jones and Catherine O’Hara) and soon discovers and befriends the spirits of the dead, previous owners Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) who are trapped inside. When the couple contacts bio-exorcist Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) to scare the family into leaving, he ends up wreaking havoc, ultimately duping Lydia into marrying him. Adam and Barbara’s love for Lydia gives them the strength to fight Beetlejuice, however, and they send him back into the Netherworld, then live happily ever after with Lydia and her family.
‘Heathers’ (1989) — Prime Video, Roku, Tubi
This pitch-black comedy casts Ryder as popular high school student Veronica, whose new boyfriend, anarchist J.D. (Christian Slater), helps her kill her mean-girl bestie Heather (Kim Walker) and other teen elites – making their murders look like suicides. When Veronica feels guilty for her actions and wants out of J.D.’s plot to blow up their school, J.D. threatens to kill her and make it look like she took her own life. She ultimately stages her own death, then foils his plan to kill their classmates. Knowing his goal will not be accomplished he intentionally sets off the bomb strapped to his chest outside and kills himself. Veronica then reunites with a nicer, less popular friend and makes plans to stay in on prom night. Shannen Doherty and Lisanne Falk co-star.
‘Mermaids’ (1990) — Paramount+
Ryder plays 15-year-old Charlotte, the rebelliously conservative daughter of wacky single mom Rachel (Cher), who constantly moves her and Charlotte’s 9-year-old sister Kate (Christina Ricci) to a different town whenever life throws her a curveball in the family drama, which is set in 1963. When they move to a small Massachusetts town, Charlotte starts dating shopkeeper Lou (Bob Hoskins), Charlotte and Kate hope they have finally found their forever home, but when Charlotte strikes up a romance with 26-year-old Joe (Michael Schoeffling), the family has to figure out whether to stay and face the situation or hit the road again.
‘Edward Scissorhands’ (1990) — Disney+
Ryder reunites with filmmaker Burton for this gothic fairytale and plays Kim, a suburban teen whose parents (Dianne Wiest and Alan Arkin) adopt the title character (Ryder’s real-life beau at the time Johnny Depp), a kindly creature with blades for fingers who knows nothing of life outside the castle where he lived with his late guardian, an inventor played by Vincent Price. The neighborhood initially embraces the handsome and quirky Edward, exploiting his talents for hairstyling and topiary-shaping, but the locals eventually turn on him when his innocence leads to misunderstandings. Edward ultimately flees back to his castle, while Kim, who has grown to love him, tells everyone he is dead, so they will leave him alone.
Ryder plays Victorian London school teacher Mina, who becomes the obsession of the titular immortal vampire (Gary Oldman) after her fiance Jonathan (Keanu Reeves) goes to work for him in Transylvania. Dracula leaves Jonathan in his castle where his blood and life are slowly drained by the vampire’s brides and heads to England to seduce Mina, first turning her best friend Lucy (Sadie Frost) into a vampire. Lucy’s fiance Arthur (Cary Elwes, Mayor Larry Kline on Stranger Things) and former suitors Quincey and Dr. Seward (Billy Campbell and Richard E. Grant) enlist the help of Abraham Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) to save Lucy, while Mina goes to Eastern Europe to pick up Jonathan, who has escaped from Dracula’s castle and is recovering in a convent. They travel back to London where, reuniting with their friends, they confront and try to kill the vampire who still has a strong psychic connection to Mina.
‘Reality Bites’ (1994) — Pay-per-view platforms
Ryder plays Lelaina, a recent college graduate and aspiring filmmaker crushed to find out adulthood isn’t what she expected it to be, in this contemporary comedy. While she searches for her dream job and gripes about the ones she has to work until she finds it, Lelaina shares an apartment with Vickie (Janeane Garofalo), her sexually promiscuous friend who works at a Gap store, and her slacker romantic interest Troy (Ethan Hawke, father of Maya Hawke, Robin on Stranger Things). Lelaina’s luck seems to change when she meets sweet, successful TV producer Michael (Ben Stiller) who loves her AND wants to take her raw, personal film footage and turn it into a commercial hit for his MTV-style network.
‘Little Women’ (1994) — Netflix
Ryder plays aspiring author Jo in this adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic 19th century historical novel about the lives and loves of the March sisters in Massachusetts during and after the American Civil War. The ensemble also includes Gabriel Byrne, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Christian Bale, Eric Stoltz and Susan Sarandon.
‘Girl, Interrupted’ (1999) — Netflix, HBO Max
Set in the 1960s and based on a true story, this drama follows Ryder’s character Susanna Kaysen, a teen who ends up in a psychiatriac institution after a suicide attempt. There, she works on her own recovery and plans to return to the outside world while navigating difficult relationships with other troubled young women. Ryder has said the story was a personal one because she had secretly checked herself into in-patient psychiatric care for a few days at the height of her fame because she was battling depression and anxiety. The film’s cast also includes Angelina Jolie, Elisabeth Moss, Whoopi Goldberg, Jared Leto and the late Brittany Murphy.
‘Mr. Deeds’ (2002) — Starz
Ryder plays scheming TV tabloid reporter Babe Bennett in this comedy. She pretends to be a small-town school nurse to get the scoop on nice New Hampshire pizzeria owner Longfellow Deeds (Adam Sandler) who just inherited $40 billion from a long lost uncle. When she realizes she is falling in love with him, Babe must decide what’s more important – her beau or her career. John Turturro, Peter Gallagher, Conchata Ferrell, Steve Buscemi and Jared Harris co-star.