"Psychologically, I must have been at a place where I just wanted to stop," she said. "I won't get into what happened, but it wasn't what people think. And it wasn't like the crime of the century! But it allowed me time that I really needed, where I went back to San Francisco and got back into things that ... I just had other interests, frankly."
After years of success, the Oscar-nominated actress made the decision to take a break from Hollywood, despite warnings from others.
"People would tell me, 'Oh you should be doing this, or that, and you have to keep working otherwise people will forget about you.' But I learned to stop listening to those voices," Ryder said.
But Ryder did struggle to find roles when she returned to acting in her late 30s. The actress said filmmakers continued to associate her with the 1990s and didn't see her for her true age.
"It's that line in First Wives Club – 'There are three ages for women: babe, district attorney and Driving Miss Daisy!' I just never got to play that district attorney!" she explained.
The actress continued to search for a role appropriate for her age and found a fit in the Netflix series Stranger Things. In the 1980s-set drama, Ryder plays the mother of the boy who disappeared amid supernatural events.
And no matter what her age, she says the thrill of acting still inspires her.
"I can only see my own character's point of view! I'm just not a business person, you know? I wish I was in a way," she said. "But acting still excites me. I don't sleep the day before a new job. I'm sure it's psychosomatic but still."
The actress says a perk of being an industry veteran is not sweating the small stuff and knowing what's truly valuable in life.
"You know, what's great about getting older is you realize that other things are more important than this business!" Ryder shared. "Time is just more precious now."
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