Robert Rich met Winona Ryder shortly after the release of “Girl, Interrupted” in 1999 when she was shopping at the Marc Jacobs store in the Mercer Hotel in New York City. Rich, who was head of communications for the designer at the time, nervously approached the actor.
“I said, ‘I loved ‘Girl Interrupted,’ and she went, ‘That’s a girls movie,’” Rich recalls. “I said, ‘I’m a girls movie kind of guy.’”
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They became fast friends. Now, more than two decades later, Rich is the author of “Winona,” a coffee table book featuring over 100 photos of Ryder, plus a forward by Jacobs. Rich took most of the picture. These aren’t glamour shots, but intimate Polaroids and images that were taken during private times together — many snapped inside the Marc Jacobs offices with other superstars like Kate Moss.
Variety caught up with Rich over Zoom as he prepares to host a launch event for the book on Thursday in New York City at Dover Street Market New York.
How many photos of Winona do you have?
Tons! Tons! First it was Polaroids in the office. I knew Winona before the camera-phones so once we had camera-phones, forget it. There are old phones I had never downloaded the photos off of so we found a ton of photos on them, too. I could do another 10 books of Winona.
Winona is so private. Did you have to pitch her the book idea and convince her to allow you to do it?
I just texted her the idea and she loved it.
Which are some of your favorite photos in the book?
Brian Bowen Smith took photos of Winona nude that we did for the Protect the Skin campaign for skin cancer. I begged her and she was like, “I’m not taking my clothes off!” But it was just me, her and Brian. It was very private and she did it. It was a lot of fun and those are probably my favorite pictures.
When did you realize that you and Winona had become genuine friends?
I don’t know but I remember we were supposed to go out for Valentine’s dinner. I was so excited, but it never happened! But I was waiting with bated breath. But eventually I was going to LA a lot for work, doing trunk shows at the Beverly Hills Hotel and at the Chateau and she’d always come to all my things. It just slowly became a friendship.
Winona was caught shoplifting a Marc Jacobs shirt from a Beverly Hills department store in 2001. How did you react when you first heard that news?
I’m not sure. Maybe I laughed.
And so did she. We see her wearing the now iconic “Free Winona” T-shirt in your book.
I have that T-shirt in every color.
What’s the biggest misconception about Winona?
People don’t know how funny she really is. She’s really funny. She’s such a sweetheart.
What’s your favorite gift that Winona ever gave you?
My favorite number is five and she had come into the store one day wearing a cashmere sweater with the number five on it. I said, ‘That’s my favorite number.’ She took it off and gave me the sweater. I still have it. I wish I could fit into it. Maybe I can go on Ozempic and lose 35 pounds.
Who will be your next book?
I think a book of everyone who passed through the office would be interesting. I have pictures of Selma Blair. I can do a book on Natasha Lyonne. I could do one on Kate Moss, Jared Leto, Sofia Coppola and Gerard Butler.
He was friends with a makeup artist I knew. She would bring him in all the time and we became friends.
This Q&A was edited for length and clarity.
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