Winona reunites with ''Heathers'' director. She'll star in the stoner comedy ''Mary Warner'' for Michael Lehmann, marking her first true lead role since her shoplifting conviction

By Gary Susman
Updated September 13, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Winona Ryder: Matt Sayles/AP

Winona Ryder’s next role could be a big stretch: Variety reports that, in Mary Warner, she’ll play an actress who embarks on a series of embarrassing misadventures that can be traced back to a stash of drugs. The film will reunite her with director Michael Lehmann, who gave Ryder her starmaking lead role in the 1989 black comedy Heathers.

Ryder hasn’t appeared in a lead role since before her 2002 conviction for shoplifting, resulting from her 2001 arrest at a Beverly Hills department store with thousands of dollars of merchandise and eight prescription drugs on her person. In Mary Warner, she’ll play the title character, who eats a batch of pot-laced brownies made by her stoner roommate; hijinks ensue. ”It’s more like a dysfunctional Ferris Bueller’s Day Off than a stoner movie because the humor and characters are as much layered and sophisticated as visual,” Lehmann told Variety.

Like Ryder, Lehmann could use a hit; his career since Heathers has been hit-and-miss (Hudson Hawk, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, 40 Days and 40 Nights). Of the upcoming indie project, Lehmann said: ”It is a good choice for Winona, who hasn’t really done comedy since Heathers, and is very good at it.” Well, there were Reality Bites and Mr. Deeds, but maybe they don’t count. Did you laugh?