Date of Birth
28 December 1984, Rocky Mount, North Carolina, USA
5' 8" (1.73 m)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an actress known for her versatile work in a variety of film and television projects. Possibly most known for her role as Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), she has also starred in critically acclaimed independent films such as Smashed (2012), for which she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination, as well as genre fare like Final Destination 3 (2006) and Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof (2007).
Winstead was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina but largely raised in Sandy, Utah, which is where she discovered a love for the performing arts. She grew up training to be a ballerina and attended the Joffrey Ballet School training program at the age of 12. It was also around this time that she began to pursue a career in acting and soon started working steadily in television and film.
Winstead is also a recording artist and performs under the name "Got a Girl" alongside producer Dan the Automotor.
Has three older sisters and an older brother.
Born to James Ronald Winstead and his wife Betty Lou Knight.
Enjoys cooking, dancing, and singing.
She is a second cousin, three times removed, of actress Ava Gardner, through her paternal grandfather, Ambler William Winstead. Mary Elizabeth's paternal great-great-great-great-grandparents, William Gardner and Cynthia Eliza Batts, were also Ava's paternal great-grandparents.
In 2007 she was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#100).
Ranked #10 on Maxim's "Hottest Women of Horror Movies" list.
Ranked #88 in FHM's 100 Sexiest Women of 2009.
In 2009 she was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 20 "young, talented, and really happening right now".
Was featured as The Women Of GQ.
Named as Hottest Girls of Comic-Con 2010.
Ranked #17 out of 101 for Men's Health 'Hottest Women of 2011'.
Favorite movies include Sunset Blvd. (1950), and Fargo (1996). Being a huge horror movie fan her favorites are Rosemary's Baby (1968), Black Christmas (1974), Alien (1979), and The Shining (1980).
Lands at #13 in Portrait Mag's Top 30 Under 30.
Voted by TC Candler's 100 Most Beautiful Faces of 2008 [#100].
Ranked #75 in FHM's 100 Sexiest Women of 2008.
She is a Southern Baptist.
Has a band under the name Got A Girl which consists of herself and Dan the Automator.
In July 2010 she announced her engagement to writer Riley Stearns in an interview on Spin.com and said she will be getting married in her fiancÃ©'s hometown of Austin, TX, in October 2010.
Drove a Volkswagen Jetta in 2 films Final Destination 3 and 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Was separated from her husband of nearly 7 years Riley Stearns and later divorced. [May 2017]
She was considered for the role of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012). The role eventually went to Emma Stone.
She has completely English heritage which would explain her surname and that her parents are from England.
Her low voice
Wide eyes and pale skin
[on the "Die Hard" series] I think they're some of the best action movies ever made. Bruce Willis just brings such a great character to life, and John McClane is someone we can all relate to and root for. He's so much fun to watch on screen. It's iconic the character he's created and it's so much fun to be part of an iconic series.
[on her career] I've been performing since I came out of the womb. I've been dancing and singing since I was a toddler. Acting seemed like a natural progression from that. I just started getting roles naturally because it was something I was interested in. I didn't plan on taking it out to Hollywood.
[on what she is looking for in a man] I'd say someone who doesn't take themselves seriously. That's my biggest thing.
You don't have to play masculine to be a strong woman.
[on sex scenes]: I prefer to do a love scene with someone I've just met.
For some reason I never feared being typecast. I just take my roles based on the character, and the script, and the people that are doing the film and whether or not I think it would be fun to do the film. But as an actor you do want to challenge yourself and step outside what you have done in the past and that what I like to do, I like to jump around and try different things and stretch myself. I most likely won't do horror for a while but it's just because I've done it already and you move onto the next thing.
I'm from North Carolina, where it's all about greasy, fatty foods. I like having curves. It's weird seeing girls who look like beanpoles. The more . . . famous girls get, the smaller they get . . . I consider myself a size 6 to be a pretty normal girl. I incorporate exercise into my daily routine . . . I recently started running and I do kickboxing DVDs, too. At the end of the day, the most important thing to me is being healthy and fit.
[on what her favorite horror movie is] It's a toss-up between The Shining (1980) and Rosemary's Baby (1968). It's probably "The Shining"; that one terrifies me more than any other film and has since I was a kid. Anytime it's on TV, I'll leave it on for the whole movie and I get so drawn into it. It's just amazing.
[on trying to get involved in independent film] You know, it's been really difficult for me a long time. I got my start doing studio films so I've worked my way backwards in a way because I always wanted to do independent films but I got my start in these genre horror-type things, and those were the people that noticed me. The independent world didn't really notice me, so it's been a real struggle trying to break into this sort of thing. I spent years being told by independent financiers that I wasn't a big enough name to put in their films. I finally woke up one day, and I was like those aren't the only kind of independent films that are being made, there are just people out there who want to make good films. And they don't care how big the names are. It was during Sundance last year that I made that realization. And I finally made some calls and said introduce me to people at Sundance right now, introduce me to people because I want to be here next year, and it's kind of amazing how it worked out. The first person I met was Jonathan Schwartz, who produced the film [Smashed (2007)] and it all worked out. Last year, he produced Like Crazy (2011) and I was like okay, I want to meet those people. And, luckily, he slipped me the script [for "Smashed"], and I did a tape, and I eventually met with James [James Ponsoldt] and I just feel really grateful that I was able to put this goal in front of me and it was realized. It's kind of crazy.
I don't pretend to know anything about anything when it comes to the business side . . . but I hope because of the way we handled the topic that these are people an audience will want to root for and hang out with.
[on Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)] I honestly don't know if they are things that Bryan would want out there, so I'll keep them quiet. But things about her family-she's kind of a tragic figure in a way. She's been through a lot, and that's why she's so guarded and mysterious.
[on breaking into the indie film world with Smashed (2007)] It's something I've been trying to do for years and years . . . It's almost like my first movie in a weird way, 'cause it's my first movie in this world, which is a world I've been trying to break into. [I've wanted] to be around filmmakers that are trying new things and not part of the system, so to speak, and they're doing things on their own terms.
[on Death Proof (2007), in which she was a cheerleader] I haven't, no. I was never a cheerleader. It was funny, because we were asked to wear cheerleading outfits to the audition, and most of the other girls had them because they were cheerleaders at one point and had them hanging in the closet, somewhere. So I went and found this kind of retro-looking, pseudo-cheerleader outfit and it was pretty cool.
[on Death Proof (2007)] Immediately when I heard Quentin Tarantino was having a project, I just wanted to be a part of it in any way I possibly could, even before I read the script. So when I got the script, I was just so excited because there were eight strong female roles, and it's so rare for me to read a script like that. I'm usually going through the entire thing trying to find what part I'm supposed to be playing because it's so male oriented and driven.
Hollywood really still is a boys' club, unfortunately. Everything is from a male perspective. When Bridesmaids (2011) came out it was like this huge revolution, the fact that here was a comedy about women and written by women. It's sad that it had to be such a big deal. Even though there are amazing female directors and executives it is still really off-balance.
It seems like when women are kicking ass it's because we have some superpower. What's so great about Ripley, from Alien (1979), is that she's just a kick-ass woman. For younger women like myself growing up in the 1980s, to see something like that was really empowering so I really want to find roles like that for that same reason, so that other girls will be able to say, "Wow, she is a totally relatable woman who's able to be strong and kick butt."
It's not the whiskers on the man, but rather the man beneath the whiskers.
Kate, from Smashed (2012), was probably one of the hardest characters to let go of. I loved playing her and living in that world with Aaron Paul. The last scene we filmed is actually the last scene in the movie, so it was sad on a bunch of levels.
[on Smashed (2012)] It was a 19-day shoot, so it was a bit of a whirlwind. It was great to do something small and character-focused.
[on The Thing (2011)] Luckily, we had things to react to on set; we weren't reacting to tennis balls on sticks, which you sometimes get making special effects films. We had things to run away from--sometimes a half-finished version of what was later blended with CGI. It helped immensely.
I'm a big fan of horror films--there's always something to be excited about and get invested in. Some of the first horror films I saw were The Shining (1980), Alien (1979) and Rosemary's Baby (1968), which have become three of my favorite films ever.
When the film first comes out I go on Rotten Tomatoes to see what people think. I was a little surprised by the hostility The Thing (2011) received from people who love the John Carpenter version. Everyone made the new film for sincere reasons and I believe it really stands up and is entertaining. It dovetails into the John Carpenter version perfectly.
I don't feel I've been typecast in terms of roles but the people who have noticed me have been the people who make those types of bigger studio movies. I had to take control of my career and put things into my own hands to get that indie film.
I want to do more independent films. I've always wanted to but I got my start in a Disney film [Sky High (2005)], then a horror film.
I always wanted to perform in some capacity since I was a kid--I was a ballerina, then a singer before acting. It segued into doing film and television work.
My first paying job was guest-starring on Touched by an Angel (1994), when I was 12. It was very exciting. I couldn't believe you got free food all day and people were so nice to you. I was the catty best friend of the girl who was being helped by the angel. I had a few bitchy asides. Looking back, I was absolutely awful, I have no idea how I got the part but I was hooked.
[on Quentin Tarantino] He was always imparting wisdom and telling stories. He gave me a lot of confidence in casting me in Death Proof (2007) and saying how much he believed in me. As an actor, you go through lots of dark periods of not working so being given that kind of confidence by someone of his caliber was a big boost.
I've realized you need to be ready for anything in this business and whatever comes your way you should be happy and grateful for it.
I don't really just want to be the blockbuster star, and I don't necessarily want to sign onto seven films in a role that I'm not really passionate about. Because I do really want to do films like Smashed (2012). That's the majority of stuff I want to do. But unfortunately, you don't get paid to do films like this. You get enough to go to a nice dinner. That's basically the money that you get paid. So you do have to think about your career and making a living and how you're going to do that. That's kind of what I want to focus on, is always working with people with at least an independent point of view, even if it's not an independent film.