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Johnny Depp 'Was Never the Same' after Split from Winona Ryder ⁠— She Defended Him against His Ex's Allegations

Junie Sihlangu
Mar 23, 2022
11:20 A.M.
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Johnny Depp fell in love with Winona Ryder when she was still a teenager. After being together for a couple of years, the couple separated, but Ryder still had his back years later when he faced some serious allegations.


According to the 1998 biography, "Winona Ryder: The Biography," Johnny Depp first spotted and met Winona Ryder at the premiere of the movie "Great Balls of Fire!" in New York in June 1989. The pair's eyes connected while they were in the lobby of the Ziegfeld Theater.

Both stars said it was love at first sight. At the time, Ryder was getting a Coke and recalled feeling like time got suspended at that moment, while Depp said everything else around them became foggy when they saw each other.

Johnny Depp at the "Lone Ranger" Japan premiere on July 17, 2013, in Tokyo [Left], and he with Winona Ryder at the "Cry-Baby" premiere in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 1, 1990 [Right]. | Source: Atsushi Tomura &  Ke.Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images


The two stars were only introduced to each other a couple of months later by Josh Richman, a mutual friend who brought the duo together at Depp's Chateau Marmont hotel room. Ryder anticipated that the actor would be a jerk, but instead:

"He was really, really shy."

According to the book, they had an instant connection, and Ryder found herself making plans to see Depp again. That was the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship that would always remain in Depp's heart.


Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder at the "Pacific Heights" premiere on September 24, 1990, in Westwood, California. | Source: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images


The pair had their first date at Timothy Leary's house, and Depp was excited beside himself. The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star said when they met, they fell in love, and it was like nothing he'd ever felt before; in the book "The Secret World of Johnny Depp," he described his feelings for her as such:

“There’s been nothing in my 27 years that’s comparable to the feeling I have with Winona.”

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder at the "Cry-Baby" premiere in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 1, 1990. | Source: Ke.Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images


Ryder and Depp hung out all day and night after their first date and were inseparable from that moment. In the book about the actress, the "Edward Scissorhands" actor confessed how he'd loved Ryder more than anything in the world. 

The actress was 17 when she met Depp, and he was 26. He was her first real boyfriend, her first real kiss, first sexual encounter, and more because, at that age, she hadn't thought much about a serious relationship besides the two-week fling she had with Christian Slater.

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder at the ShoWest Awards, circa 1990. | Source: Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images


Ryder underestimated her feelings, and five months into the relationship, she was engaged to Depp! The pair started living in rented apartments and hotels a month after the engagement. 

With a noticeable age gap, their relationship and engagement quickly got the media's attention, who couldn't stop writing about them. Having been engaged before, Depp also became a focus for the tabloids, but his new fiancée wasn't bothered because they had a deep connection.

Johnny Depp at the Cry-Baby premiere in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 1, 1990. | Source: Ke.Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images


The constant hounding by the media led Ryder to be protective of her relationship. She even refused to discuss her relationship with Depp, but he tried explaining to the press how deep their relationship was. 

He was so smitten with his fiancée that he even got a $75 tattoo on his right bicep, "Winona Forever." The actor got the tattoo done to show his commitment to his younger bride, but the pair were forced apart for the first few months of their engagement due to their busy work schedules.


Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder at the 48th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 19, 1991. | Source: Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images


Sadly, in 1993, the couple separated before they could get married. Ryder's representative said the split was because they were both young and eventually grew apart, but Depp blamed it on his honesty with the media.

He said it was hard having a personal life in Hollywood, and it was his mistake for how open he was about their relationship. The "21 Jump Street" actor said he hoped being honest would quench the thirst of the curious masses, but instead, people thought they were a part of it.

Tim Burton, Winona Ryder, and Johnny Depp at the "Edward Scissorhands" premiere on December 6, 1990. | Source: Barry King/WireImage/Getty Images


The "Star Trek" actress described the separation as her "first real break-up, the first heartbreak." Depp was devastated about the break-up, and when he went back to shooting "Ed Wood," the director, Tim Burton, recalled how he'd arrive with tears in his eyes.

Burton felt terrible for him and asked the actor what had happened, but all Depp said was it wasn't Ryder's fault; it was his. The director also revealed that the star was never the same after the break-up, even when he began dating Kate Moss a year later.

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder at the NATO/ShoWest Convention on February 8, 1990, in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Source: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images


Burton felt the relationship wasn't the same as Ryder's, and Depp wasn't acting like himself any longer. The director explained that it was as if the actress had taken his soul and love after their four-year relationship. 

[Sean] Bett said [Amber] Heard was abusive towards her ex-husband [Johnny Depp] when drunk, and he never retaliated.

Depp also had his tattoo altered to read "Wino Forever." In a 1993 Australia Tonight interview, he said he didn't regret getting the tattoo as it was part of his past and history, and that's why he kept it but chose to have it altered. 



Winona Ryder at the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 19, 2020, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

In 2020, Ryder came to Depp's defense when his ex-wife, Amber Heard, accused him of being an abusive husband and other allegations. In her statement, the actress said:


“I do not want to call anyone a liar but from my experience of Johnny, it is impossible to believe that such horrific allegations are true. I find it extremely upsetting knowing him as I do.”

Depp once said he'd die for Ryder, loved her so much, and didn't know what he'd do without her. The accused actor also denied the accusations brought forward by Heard.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp at "The Danish Girl" premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2015, in Toronto, Canada. | Source: Jason Merritt/Getty Images


Instead, Depp's bodyguard, who had worked for him for 14 years, Sean Bett, told the court that Heard was the one who threw bottles and glasses at his boss. Bett said Heard was abusive towards her ex-husband when drunk, and he never retaliated.

In the former couple's divorce settlement, because Depp had earned $60 million in the final year of their marriage, Heard got $7 million and $525,000 to cover legal fees. She also didn't have to pay any tax liabilities for those sums.