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During her first week at Kenilworth Junior High, she was bullied by children who mistook her for an effeminate boy. Go fuck yourself.’" In 1983, when Ryder was 12, she enrolled at the American Conservatory Theater in nearby San Francisco, where she took her first acting lessons. The film, a satirical take on teenage life, revolves around Veronica, who is ultimately forced to choose between the will of society and her own heart after her boyfriend, played by Christian Slater, begins killing off popular high school students."I was wearing an old Salvation Army shop boy’s suit. In 1989, Ryder graduated from Petaluma High School with a 4.0 GPA. Ryder's agent initially begged her to turn the role down, saying the film would "ruin her career".As I went to the bathroom I heard people saying, ‘Hey, faggot’. I fell to the ground and they started to kick the shit out of me. The school kicked me out, not the bullies..." As a result, Ryder ended up being home-schooled that year. and Ryder's performance was critically embraced, with The Washington Post stating Ryder is "Hollywood's most impressive ingénue... As Lydia Deetz, a goth teenager in Tim Burton's Beetlejuice (1988), she won critical acclaim and widespread recognition.
After appearances in film and on television, Ryder continued her acting career with the cult film Heathers (1988), a controversial satire of teenage suicide and high school life that has since become a landmark teen film.
She later appeared in the coming of age drama Mermaids (1990), earning a Golden Globe Award nomination, and in the same year appeared alongside Johnny Depp in Burton's dark fairy-tale Edward Scissorhands (1990), and shortly thereafter opposite Gary Oldman in Francis Ford Coppola's gothic romance Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992).
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