Winona Ryder Was Told That She’d ‘Never Work Again’ if She Starred in ‘Heathers’

At the tender age of 15, Winona Ryder received a script for Heathers. Although the film is incredibly dark, the starlet instantly fell in love with it. She knew at once that she wanted to be cast in the movie, regardless of which part she was offered.

But her agent, on the other hand, was adamant that she avoid Heathers like the plague. Her agent believed that the film was way too controversial for such a young actor. She even told Ryder that she’d “never work again” if she took the role of Veronica Sawyer.

Yeah right!

From left to right, Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk, Kim Walker and Winona Ryder on set of the film 'Heathers', 1988
From left to right, Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk, Kim Walker and Winona Ryder on set of the film ‘Heathers’, 1988 | New World Pictures/Getty Images

Winona Ryder wasn’t the first choice for Veronica Sawyer in ‘Heathers’

It was a tough battle to get cast as the lead in the cult-classic film.

Although Ryder is undoubtedly one of the most stunning actors in Hollywood, she says that she wasn’t considered “pretty enough” for the role of Veronica.

Winona Ryder in her 20s, wearing pajamas
Winona Ryder | Joe McNally/Getty Images

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When she went into the audition, she gave a mind-blowing performance, yet the casting directors seemed uninterested. So in a somewhat degrading fashion, Ryder had to get a “makeover” in order to be considered for the role.

“I auditioned, and they were like, ‘Oh, thanks,'” Ryder tells Interview Magazine. “And I went to the Beverly Center to Macy’s and had them do a makeover on me… I went back because I kind of knew that they thought I wasn’t pretty enough. They were trying to get Jennifer Connelly.”

But despite not being considered “pretty enough” for the part, Ryder had never wanted a movie role more in her entire life. She tells Entertainment Weekly,

“I’ve always held the original script of Heathers among the great literature that I’ve ever read. For me, it’s like, Ezra Pound, Philip Roth, Saul Bellow, and Daniel Waters, you know?” (Daniel Waters is the mastermind behind Heathers.)

“Do you think there’s ever been another movie like Heathers?” asks Ryder. “I looove this movie- to the point where I talk about it like I’m not even in it. If it’s on TV, I watch it. I’ve probably seen it 50 times. Like, I can do it by heart.”

Winona Ryder was told that she’d ‘never work again’ if she starred in ‘Heathers’

Although the Stranger Things star was only fifteen by the time she got the script, she was already a semi-seasoned actor. Before the 1988 movie, Ryder had starred in big films such as Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice and Great Balls of Fire!

But according to Ryder, her agent still thought she knew what was best for the star. And apparently, her agent wanted Ryder to steer clear of Heathers, lest she wanted to end her movie career.

“My agent at the time literally got on her knees and begged me not to do the movie,” Ryder reveals. “She had her hands together, and she goes, ‘You will never. Work. Again.’ We parted ways later.”

The ‘Beetlejuice’ star knew ‘Heathers’ would become a cult-classic

Fortunately, Ryder was intelligent enough to listen to her gut. She could sense how much of a masterpiece the movie would turn out to be, and no one was going to stop her from starring in the film no matter how much they tried.

“Winona was so smart,” says the producer of the film, Denise Di Novi. “She was fifteen. She was a prodigy. From a very young age, she was an old soul. (Winona) really got the words and the imagery. She had watched tons of old movies. She was really sophisticated, intellectually.”