Winona stole for role, Saks employee testifies. In the first day of testimony, store security says Ryder admitted the theft and called it research, while the defense insists she left a running tab with the cashier
Winona Ryder
Credit: Winona Ryder: Steve Grayson/Pool/Reuters/Newscom

Winona Ryder wasn’t shoplifting; she was Method acting. That’s what the Saks Fifth Avenue security chief testified that Ryder told him after store guards nabbed her last December. His testimony, the first in Ryder’s long-awaited trial, contended that the actress confessed to boosting some $5,560 in merchandise from the Beverly Hills store and gave the excuse that her theft was preparation for an upcoming role.

”She said, ‘I’m sorry for what I did. My director directed me to shoplift for a role I was preparing,”’ Kenneth Evans testified, according to the Associated Press. It’s not clear which director or role she may have been referring to. Evans also said the actress was ”polite and apologetic” when he told her that the police were coming.

Ryder’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, painted a different picture of the actress’ detention at the store. He said her response to security staffers was, ”You’ve got my credit card; you can do what you want with it.” Geragos said Ryder had already purchased $3,700 worth of merchandise at Saks that day and had told a clerk to keep a running tab. Moreover, Geragos said, security guards mistreated and ”threatened” her for 90 minutes. ”One of the guys lifts up her… shirt — she’s not wearing a bra — and she screamed at them to stop,” Geragos said, according to Reuters.

Prosecutors showed 45 minutes of the now-notorious store security videotape, including sequences of Ryder carrying merchandise and wearing a hat still bearing a price tag, the New York Daily News reports. It also showed her stuffing socks and other small items into a hat, which she then carried as she continued to browse, Reuters reports. Geragos said that the videotape would not show Ryder snipping off price tags or doing anything ”except — surprise — shopping,” the Daily News reports.

Deputy District Attorney Ann Rundle acknowledged that Ryder paid for four items that day but said she lifted 20 more. She had her ”own two-for-one bonus program — for every item she purchased she would help herself to another,” Reuters quotes Rundle as saying. ”For every item Ms. Ryder purchased, she helped herself to a couple little extras. Actually, it was five extras,” she said, according to the New York Post.

Ryder, who turns 31 on Tuesday, has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she faces up to three years behind bars. The trial is expected to last a week.