Hollywood Speculates on Ryder’s Future

After being found guilty Wednesday of stealing more than $5,500 worth of merchandise at Saks Fifth Avenue last year, Winona Ryder remains free on bail until her sentencing hearing Dec. 6. While it is unlikely she will face any jail time, many are wondering what effects the ordeal will have on her film career.

Ryder, a two-time Academy Award nominee, has been acting since she was a teen and her credits are impressive. She has starred in many films including Heathers, Edward Scissorhands, Little Women, The Age of Innocence, The Crucible and Girl, Interrupted. Most recently she starred with Adam Sandler in Mr. Deeds.

Given her lengthy résumé, many in Hollywood believe the public will forgive Ryder for what went down behind the slatted doors of the swank Beverly Hills store fitting room on Dec. 12, 2001.

Producer Tom Sherak, who was a top executive at 20th Century Fox in 1996 when the studio released The Crucible, thinks her talent will win out over the scandal. “Hollywood has the biggest heart in the world and if there is any place where someone would be forgiven, it’s in this town,” he told Reuters. “She is a celebrity, a wonderful actress, and I’m sure that she will act again.”

After all, Ryder is not the first celebrity to make the headlines. Rob Lowe, Charlie Sheen, Hugh Grant, Robert Downey Jr. and Paul Reubens have all managed to put some of Hollywood’s juiciest scandals behind them.

Some even speculate the incident may benefit the actress, typically thought of as a wide-eyed innocent, lending a little “edge” to her image. And of course, like many stars before her, Ryder may even land a book deal to chronicle her experience.

Others in the industry think it will take some time to see Ryder the actress rather than Ryder the actress felon. Daily Variety editor in chief Peter Bart thinks the nature of her crime may make filmmakers balk.

“I can see a director debating with himself whether to trust Winona in terms of just stability,” Bart told Reuters, adding that Ryder‘s conviction might create problems for insurance companies that underwrite film productions. “Could she get arrested for shoplifting in Budapest in the middle of a shoot? It’s questions like that that have to be worked out.”

Ryder‘s publicist Mara Buxbaum said Tuesday the actress has had numerous offers but had not yet committed to any specific projects.

If there is one thing everyone agrees on, it’s that it will take time for headlines such as “Saks, lies and videotape,” “Winona Scissorhands” and “Little Felon” to stop echoing throughout Hollywood.