nona Ryder was born Winona Laura Horowitz and named after the town in which she was born, Winona, Minnesota. She grew up in a ranch commune in Northern California which had no electricity. She is the goddaughter of Timothy Leary. Her parents were friends of Beat poet Allen Ginsberg and once edited a book called "Shaman Woman Mainline Lady", an anthology of writings on the drug experience in literature, which included one piece by Louisa May Alcott. Winona Ryder was later to star as Jo March in this author's Little Women (1994).
Ryder graduated to more grown-up roles with Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992). Her work on The Age of Innocence (1993) earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Two years later, she received another nod from the academy with a Best Actress nomination for her role as Jo in Little Women (1995). While she gave a strong performance in Girl, Interrupted (1999) as a young woman in a mental institution, Ryder made several forgettable films around this time, including the box office dud Autumn in New York (2000).
Ryder decided to lay low following the ordeal, moving to San Francisco and turning down film offers. The film she had been working on when she broke her arm, the Adam Sandler comedy "Mr. Deeds" (2002), was released and marked her biggest box office draw to date, though the co-star's likeness was oddly absent from the film's marketing campaign. In general, Ryder was well-received for her first foray into madcap comedy. In 2003, she narrated a documentary about child slavery called "The Day My God Died" (2003) but did not return to the screen in full force until she starred, in digitized form, in Richard Linklater's "A Scanner Darkly" (2006). The Philip K. Dick adaptation received limited independent release, but met with generally favorable reviews for its thought provoking portrayal of a dystopian future and for the visual impact of its rotoscoping animation technique.