Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder.
~ Their relationship – 1989 to 1993. ~
Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder – a couple known by most people as one of the most publicised couples of the 90’s. When their eyes first met at the ‘Great Balls of Fire!’ Premiere in New York, they knew it was love at first sight. Johnny couldn't help but notice the dark brown velvet eyes that flickered adorably, or the gorgeous bopped black hair that was swept away from her forehead to offset the pale porcelain skin that he thought echoed visages of a young Elizabeth Taylor with an equally enviable body.
“It was a classic glance,” raved Johnny, “like that zoom lens in West Side Story when everything else gets foggy.”
“It wasn't,” Winona said, “a long moment, but it was suspended.”
A couple of months later, Josh Richman, a mutual friend, dragged Winona into Johnny’s hotel room. She watched entranced by the charm that had caused much of American girlhood to fall for him, and was even more enamoured of the intelligence that his smart, sensitive ‘21 Jump Street’ role had seemed to imbue him with.
“I thought maybe he would be a jerk. I didn’t know,” said Winona, “but he was really, really shy.”
Almost before they even knew what was happening, they arranged to meet each other again.
“When I first met Winona and we fell in love, it was absolutely like nothing before. We hung out the whole day and night, and we’ve been handing out ever since. I love her more than anything in the world.”
Winona made it clear, however, that she wouldn’t be diving in too quick, saying she had “read horror stories about what happens when you do.”
But she underestimated the strength of her own emotions. Five months after they met, Johnny gave Winona an engagement ring, and a month later, the couple were living together, even if it was in a succession of hotels and rented apartments. “I have beds, tables, chairs, a TV set,” said Johnny, “And they're mine, and I have Winona. That's all I need.”
Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder - it was a relationship made in tabloid heaven. Winona was young, sweet, charming, a child. Johnny, on the other hand, was a hell-raising party monster. Well, according to the press he was. All the same, the gossip columnists couldn't go wrong. Even Timothy Leary would later describe Johnny as both ‘wild and charitable' and although Winona focused on the charitable side, the Hollywood insiders found Johnny's apparent past and presumably future indiscretions of considerably greater interest.
There was the fact that he had been married and divorced, engaged twice more, and would even spread his engagement to Winona into a trilogy of breakups and reconciliations, affirmed by the number of times Winona's engagement ring came off and went back on again.
Indeed, it was Johnny's romantic past and presumably future that was the number one concern. Manhattan was even stricken by a brief craze after the announcement of his betrothal to Winona, in which car bumper stickers appeared demanding, HONK IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN ENGAGED TO JOHNNY DEPP. Not that it bothered him - or did it? “I'll just answer that I was engaged to Sherilyn, I was engaged to Winona, and I was engaged to Jennifer Grey. But a lot was written about that shit, and it was taken to another level and it was turned into some kind of horrible joke.”
“I've never been one of those guys who goes out and screws everything that's in front of him. When you're growing up, you go through a series of misjudgements. Not bad choices, but wrong choices. People make mistakes. We all fuck up. I was really young for the longest time. My relationships weren't as heavy as people think they were. I don't know what it is, possibly I am trying to rectify my family's situation, or I was just madly in love. There's been nothing throughout my 27 years that has been comparable to the feeling I have with Winona. There's something inside me that knows really well, that no one else has ever known, or will ever know. Life is trial and error, but when you find the one who's really it, there's no mistaking it.” That, Johnny explained, was why he was going to get Winona's name tattooed on his arm for $75.
When Winona heard that news, her initial response was excitement and pride. “I was thrilled when he got the tattoo,” Winona sighed. “Wouldn't any woman be?” It was only later that her interest turned to apprehension. As she waited at Sunset Strip Tattoo – ‘Tattooers of the Stars Since 1971' - while Johnny's ‘Winona Forever' double-banner tattoo was engraved into his right bicep to match the tribute to his mother on his left, those feelings grew stronger.
At the same time, “I was sort of in shock,” Winona freely admits. Besides, “I'd never seen anyone get a tattoo before so I was pretty squeamish, I guess.” Even as she repeatedly removed the bandage to stare at the engraving that Mike Messina had so perfectly etched, “I kept thinking it was going to wash off or something. I couldn't believe it was real. I mean it's a big thing because it's so permanent.”
Johnny himself had no doubts. `I love Winona. I'm going to love her forever. Putting her on my arm solidified it. The truth is very powerful, believe me this is not something I took lightly.' But according to Messina, “It was no big deal for him, mainly because he's had tattoos done before.” Even if the process did hurt. But that was all part of the allure. “Yeah!” Johnny yelped. “I liked the pain. It was electric, kind of nice.”
They broke up in 1993 because Winona’s father said “at 19, Winona is too young to marry.”
~ After they broke up – 1993 onwards. ~
“To have the tattoo removed, or erase it, is to try and say it never happened. If I alter it in some way, make it funny - put her next boyfriend's name on top of it, say - it would still be honest." – Johnny.
“She's a sweet kid, man. It's always a little weird, you're like ‘We used to do this and that, we used to have fun and hang out together.’ But at least we were able to feel that for each other. I feel real lucky that we got that." – Johnny.
“I think he's great and I have nothing but kind things to say about him.” – Winona.
“When we broke up, it was horrible. I mean it was so hard to get over and we had every thing out for the wedding. So that was difficult to tell people that the wedding was off, but what can I do now. Just move on. But I still think about all those good times we had." – Winona.
“When I hear our song, I get all these memories from when we went out together. Or any song that can on 89 to 93, it makes me think of her and that can suck but half of it makes me really happy.” – Johnny.
“Our song was playing when I first laid my eyes on her and that was ‘Take My Breath Away’ by Berlin and every time it comes on anywhere I think of her eyes." – Johnny.
“Johnny has always protested that he still loves Winona, while she has always held a special place for him in her heart because he was her first real love. So they might get back together but I don’t know.” – Josh Richman.
“Well, we went out to dinner, just as friends, a couple days ago and we talked about what's going on in life. It's really great that we can just sit and enjoy each other’s company. Right now it's hard for us, I just broke up with Matt and he just broke up with Kate. So we can both relate.” – Winona.
“We had a nice chat and just hung out after nothing big. I hope maybe in the future something could happen again. Maybe, we'll have to see. But I would like that. I'm going to Paris to shoot ‘The 9th Gate’ so maybe after I'll call her again and we can go out sometime.” – Johnny. (May 1998)
“He was so desperately in love with Winona, that when they broke up, he wouldn't admit it was over for the longest time.” - Tim Burton.
“The split in 1993 was during the filming of Ed Wood and there were days he would come crying, I felt so bad. I asked him why it happened but all he said was, 'It wasnt her fault, it was mine.' And when he met Kate in January of 94, it wasn't the same as Winona. I felt weird to be around him like he wasn't acting like Johnny anymore. It's almost like Winona took Johnny's soul, Johnny's love.”
“Winona kept him calm. Kept him cool. Not like out of control. I feel Johnny got arrested because Kate couldn't stop him from being wild and free. Winona could.”
“I believe he never really loved Kate. I mean, I love Johnny like a son, but he never was the same. I believe, also know, he belongs with Winona. So many people try to tell him (and Winona) they should just talk. They never say anything. I know Christina Ricci also told Johnny (during filming of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) to call Winona. Christina is very, very, very close to Winona. They’re like sisters.”
“I know them both so well. Even if he’s with Vanessa now and has 2 kids, I think he'll return to Winona someday. Not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon. Don't tell him I said that!” – Christina Ricci.
When Winona got arrested, Johnny Depp (her former boyfriend) got her a dozen pink roses to make her feel better and wrote a note himself stating, ‘Don't worry hon, it happens to the best of us. Good luck in court! I got faith in you!’
"When I met Johnny, I was pure virgin. 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. Kind of funny that word." – Winona.