Winona Ryder Almost Set Herself on Fire After Splitting from Johnny Depp
#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.
Who: Two-time Oscar nominee Winona Ryder, 47, and three-time Oscar nominee Johnny Depp, 55.
How They Met: It was truly love at first sight for the young stars — or at least it was for Depp. The 21 Jump Street alum first laid eyes on Ryder (then 17) at the 1989 premiere of Great Balls of Fire! in N.Y.C. The duo locked eyes while Winona was “getting a coke,” a moment Johnny described as “a classic glance,” and in typical film buff fashion, likened to “the zoom lenses in West Side Story, and everything else gets foggy.” Their true introduction, however, didn’t come until months later, when a mutual friend arranged for them to meet at the Chateau Marmont.
Why We Loved Them: Winona Forever! Winona and Johnny were banking on true love, so much so that Depp proposed just five months into their relationship. “There’s been nothing in my 27 years that’s comparable to the feeling I have with Winona,” he told People of his teenage fiancée, and the universe swooned.
When They Peaked: They were so supportive of each other. Motive unknown, Depp decided to wear an oversize mustard yellow suit to a movie premiere and Ryder still stood by his side. That’s love.
The Breakup: In the summer of ’93, three years into their engagement, Jinona sang its swan song. Ryder’s rep at the time blamed the split on the impetuosity of young love and stardom, telling People, “They’re young, and they grew apart.”
Depp, for his part, appeared to indict the media for his failed engagement, telling the Los Angeles Times, "It's very hard to have a personal life in this town. My relationship with Winona, it was my mistake to be as open as we were, but I thought if we were honest it would destroy that curiosity monster. Instead it fed it, gave people license to feel they were part of it."
Winona, who credits Johnny as her first “heartbreak,” has admitted that the actor will forever be dear to her. “When I met Johnny, I was pure virgin,” she’s been quoted as saying. “He changed that. He was my first everything. My first real kiss. My first real boyfriend. My first fiancé. The first guy I had sex with. So he’ll always be in my heart. Forever.”
Ryder has also opened up about the anguish their break up put her through, telling Cinema.com, “I was very depressed after breaking off my engagement with Johnny. I was embarrassingly dramatic at the time, but you have to remember I was only 19 years old." In fact, things got so “dramatic” that Ryder says she once “fell asleep with a lit cigarette, and woke up to the flames.” If that’s not a metaphor for a relationship that plays out in the spotlight, I don’t know what is …
As the years passed, Winona and Johnny kept their distance but bore no ill will toward one another. According to a report that began to circulate in early 2014, though, Depp’s relationship with then-fiancée Amber Heard changed Ryder’s otherwise favorable opinion of her ex. An anonymous source revealed that Winona "had a respectful relationship with Johnny for years [after their split], but she soured on any idea of an acting reunion after Johnny hooked up with Amber."
Depp was rumored to have begun seeing Heard while he was still dating the mother of his two children, Vanessa Paradis — a theory that reportedly upset Ryder. "She's pulled a 180 on her opinion of Johnny and his cronies because she thinks it's a sad cliché that he'd dump his long-term baby mama for a woman in her twenties," the source continued.
That being said, Winona rushed to her ex’s defense when Heard accused the actor of domestic violence. “I can only speak from my own experience, which was wildly different than what is being said,” Ryder told Time. “He was never, never that way towards me. Never abusive at all towards me. I only know him as a really good, loving, caring guy who is very, very protective of the people that he loves.”
Where They Are Now: After he and Winona split — which, to be clear, marked the third time he’d broken an engagement since divorcing markup artist Lori Anne Allison in 1985 — Johnny dated Kate Moss for four years, followed by a 14-year relationship with Vanessa Paradis. He welcomed two children with the French actress: Lily Rose, 19, and John III, 16. Three years after his and Paradis’s split, Depp wed his Rum Diary co-star Heard. Just 15-months into their relationship, Heard filed for divorce, claiming the actor had been “verbally and physically abusive” toward her.
Depp’s most recent film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, comes out on Friday, Nov. 16.
Following her relationship with Depp, Ryder dated Soul Asylum lead singer Dave Pirner for three years and went on to date Matt Damon (yes, really) for two years. Though Winona keeps her dating life more low-key these days, the actress is thought to have been in a relationship with fashion designer Scott Mackinlay Hahn since 2011.
Winona will return for season three of Netflix mega-hit Stranger Things in 2019.