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Why '90s BFFs Winona Ryder & Gwyneth Paltrow Stopped Speaking

The rumors involve a stolen movie script and an unnamed "frenemy."

There are many regular-person reasons to end a friendship, and then there are falling-outs that can only happen to celebrities. Take, for example, landing an Oscar for a role that your friend had also been up for. Most people can't relate to that one, but it's rumored to be the reason that Winona Ryder and Gwyneth Paltrow stopped being friends in the late 1990s. The actors went from being photographed together and dating famous best friends to no longer hanging out and generating a lot of gossip along the way. Read on to find out what—supposedly—happened between these two.

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Ryder and Paltrow were close friends in the '90s.

Winona Ryder and Gwyneth Paltrow at the 1998 Golden Globe Awards
Kevin Mazur/WireImage via Getty Images

Ryder and Paltrow were often spotted hanging out together in the late '90s. And, on top of that, they were also dating best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, respectively. According to Yahoo!, Paltrow is said to be the one who introduced Damon and Ryder in 1997.

At the time, both Ryder and Paltrow were hot, young stars. Ryder was known for movies including Heathers, Edward Scissorhands, and Little Women. Paltrow had recently starred in Se7en and Emma.

Paltrow is rumored to have stolen a script from Ryder.

Gwyneth Paltrow at the 1999 Academy Awards
Everett Collection / Shutterstock

The rift in their friendship supposedly occurred after Paltrow came across the script for Shakespeare in Love at Ryder's house and decided to try and get a role in the film herself. Accounts vary as to whether Paltrow stole the actual script from Ryder or whether she just saw it and then contacted her agent about a part. Either way, Paltrow did end up being cast in the 1998 movie, and she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Viola de Lesseps opposite Joseph Fiennes' William Shakespeare.

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Paltrow denied the theft.

Winona Ryder and Gwyneth Paltrow at Los Angeles International Airport in 1997
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

During a 2015 interview with Howard Stern, Paltrow said that the story of her stealing the Shakespeare in Love role from Ryder was completely made up.

"That's an urban myth," she said (via HuffPost). "I swear to God I did not, I'm raising my right hand on the Bible. I swear to God." Paltrow also confirmed that she hadn't seen Ryder in years.

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Paltrow maybe wrote about Ryder in her newsletter.

Winona Ryder and Gwyneth Paltrow at Los Angeles International Airport in 1997
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

In 2009—when Paltrow's lifestyle website, Goop, was still new—she sent out a newsletter about a former "frenemy" who she was glad to hear had gone through a "humiliating" situation.

"Back in the day, I had a 'frenemy' who, as it turned out, was pretty hell-bent on taking me down," Paltrow wrote (via Lainey Gossip). "This person really did what they could to hurt me. I was deeply upset, I was angry, I was all of those things you feel when you find out that someone you thought you liked was venomous and dangerous. I restrained myself from fighting back. I tried to take the high road. But one day I heard that something unfortunate and humiliating had happened to this person. And my reaction was deep relief and…happiness. There went the high road."

Of course, because of the rumors around their former friendship, people assumed that Paltrow was talking about Ryder, who had made headlines in 2001 when she was arrested and convicted for shoplifting. Paltrow never confirmed the theory one way or the other.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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