What Winona should do to save her career -- After her conviction on criminal charges, the star could stand to take a few cues from Halle Berry, experts say

By Clarissa Cruz
Updated November 22, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
Winona Ryder: Lee Celand/Getty Images

The trial of the new century has ended — with Winona Ryder, 31, convicted Nov. 6 on felony charges of grand theft and vandalism. Though the ”Mr. Deeds” star won’t face jail time after her Dec. 6 sentencing, how can she reclaim her A-list status? Perhaps by stealing moves from Halle Berry, who overcame her own PR disaster in 2000 when she fled the scene of an L.A. fender bender that injured the other driver. ”I’m sure what’s happened to Winona will be a life-changing experience,” Berry tells EW. ”How it changes her, though, will be up to her.” Here are some tips from Berry’s recovery manual.

DO admit you’re wrong. Berry pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to 200 hours of community service, three years’ probation, and a $13,500 fine. ”If you look at people Hollywood has forgiven and embraced — Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., even Tommy Lee — what they had in common is they owned up to what they had done,” says a crisis management guru who’s worked with several major celebs. ”If Winona refuses to acknowledge that she may have done something wrong, people will have a hard time getting past this.”

DON’T run to Oprah just yet. ”You don’t want to pour gasoline on it,” advises the crisis expert. ”In Halle’s case, she did an interview with Diane Sawyer [three months after the incident], answered all the questions, and was able to put it behind her.”

DO find a stellar posttrial project. Berry followed her legal woes with an Oscar-winning turn in the indie ”Monster’s Ball.” ”[Ryder] doesn’t need to do ‘Alien 5’ or ‘Mr. Deeds 2,”’ notes a longtime casting director, adding that producers should still be able to insure her. ”She always seems to do well in period pieces.” (Ryder’s publicist says the actress won’t commit to any roles presentencing.)

DON’T be afraid to shop. ”She’s charming,” exclaims one L.A. boutique manager. ”She could steal from me anytime.”

(Additional reporting by Scott Brown, Benjamin Svetkey, and Allison Hope Weiner)