The Real Reason Johnny Depp And Winona Ryder Broke Up

They were the young "It" couple of the 1990s, frequently gracing the covers of tabloids and magazines, with the world wondering when they'd finally marry. They were A-listers Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder, who turned out hit after hit during that era, both separately and alone. The 1980s were coming to a close, and an 18-year-old Winona Ryder was starring in "Great Balls of Fire," a biopic about musician Jerry Lee Lewis, who famously married his underage cousin at the height of his career (via IMDb). Depp first met Ryder at the premiere of that film and described it as a love-at-first-sight moment. 

As he once told Rolling Stone: "It was a classic glance, like the zoom lenses in 'West Side Story,' and everything else gets foggy" (via Cheat Sheet). The pair started dating just two months later, according to People. The next year, they starred in "Edward Scissorhands" together and became the real-life couple to watch. And they were watched — for the next four years.

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder got engaged

While Johnny Depp had already been married once and had dated other celebrities in his short career, for Winona Ryder, Depp was her first serious relationship, according to People. Still, Depp was enamored by the young actress who was nearly a decade his junior — so much so that he even got a tattoo with her name on it, reading "Winona Forever." Ryder was so shocked by the tattoo that she didn't even think it was real. In a 1991 interview with Rolling Stone, Ryder recalled watching Depp get inked.

"I sort of was in shock," she said. "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!" Within five months of their first meeting, Depp and Ryder were engaged, but despite staying together until 1993, they never found it within themselves to get married. Instead, their breakup was so intense that Depp had his tattoo altered to read "Wino Forever" (via People).

Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder reflected on their split

In a 1993 interview with the Los Angeles Times where Johnny Depp described what went into his work and his relationships, he explained what he believed went wrong with Winona Ryder, hinting that media pressure played a part. "It's very hard to have a personal life in this town," Depp said. "My relationship with Winona, it was my mistake to be as open as we were, but I thought if we were honest it would destroy that curiosity monster. Instead it fed it, gave people license to feel they were part of it."

Ryder described the split as a heartbreaking time in her life, and in 2009 told Elle UK she was depressed afterwards. "I had just done 'Dracula' and 'Edward Scissorhands'. I had just had my first real break-up, the first heartbreak," she said. "And I think it was really ironic because, like, everybody else just thought I had everything in the world, you know, I had no reason to be depressed, everything was sort of at its peak, but inside I was completely lost" (via People).