Though Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder dated for a scant few years, their romance and subsequent breakup left an impact on Generation X. It turns out that Winona, 50, took the split from Johnny, 59, harder than anyone knew. “That was my Girl, Interrupted real life,” she said when discussing her post-breakup life with Harper’s Bazaar for the July 2022 issue. Winona executive produced and starred in the 1999 film about a young woman in a psychiatric hospital (which won Angelina Jolie the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.)
“I remember, I was playing this character who ends up getting tortured in a Chilean prison [in the 1994 drama The House of the Spirits],” she tells Harper’s Bazaar, crediting “an incredible therapist” for helping Winona to imagine being gentle to a younger version of herself. “I would look at these fake bruises and cuts on my face [from the shoot], and I would struggle to see myself as this little girl. ‘Would you be treating this girl like you’re treating yourself?’ I remember looking at myself and saying, ‘This is what I’m doing to myself inside.’ Because I just wasn’t taking care of myself.”
Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona’s co-star in 1993’s The Age of Innocence, was one of her biggest supporters during that time. “I remember Michelle being like, ‘This is going to pass,’” said Ryder, who said Pfeiffer reminded her that everything confusing and unhinged about her reality would fade away. “But I couldn’t hear it,” said Ryder. “I’ve never talked about it,” she adds. “There’s this part of me that’s very private. I have such, like, a place in my heart for those days. But for someone younger who grew up with social media, it’s hard to describe.”
For the past decade, Winona has been involved with the fashion designer Scott Mackinlay Hahn, 51. Her relationship with Johnny was also recently brought back into the spotlight in light of his defamation trial against Amber Heard.
“I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened,” she said when discussing Amber’s domestic abuse allegations. “I’m not calling anyone a liar. I’m just saying it’s difficult and upsetting for me to wrap my head around it. Look, it was a long time ago, but we were together for four years, and it was a big relationship for me. Imagine if someone you dated when you were — I was 17 when I met him — was accused of that. “It’s just shocking. I have never seen him be violent toward a person before.”
Depp and Ryder first met at the 1989 New York premiere of Great Balls of Fire!, the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic starring Dennis Quaid. They began dating a few months later after a mutual friend introduced them. Ryder was 17 at the time; Depp was 26. In 1990, Johnny proposed to Winona just five months into their relationship.
“I’m being really honest with you when I say that there’s been nothing ever throughout my twenty-seven years that’s comparable to the feeling I have with Winona,” he told Rolling Stone in 1991. “It’s like this weird, bounding atom or something. You can think something is the real thing, but it’s different when you feel it. The truth is very powerful. Now I know. Believe me, this Winona forever tattoo is not something I took lightly…. Her eyes kill me.”
In 1993, the two broke it off. In the months after the split, Johnny had his “Winona forever” tattoo altered to read “Wino forever.”