By Stephen Mooallen for Interview Magazine
Winona Ryder knows her Simple Minds—and not just “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” to which she enthusiastically lip-synchs while propped up on her elbows on a dark red comforter on the set of our cover shoot. “Will you recognize me, call my name, or walk on by? Rain keeps falling, rain keeps falling, down, down, down, dooowwwnnn . . .” But like most things with Ryder, her connoisseurship is not half-assed. She requests deeper cuts, like “Alive and Kicking,” off the band’s Once Upon a Time (1985) album: “Staaayyy . . . until your love . . . is . . . love . . . is . . . a-live and kicking!” We listen to that one twice, which is probably appropriate since Ryder’s own romance with acting—that thing that kept her very busy throughout most of her teens and her twenties—is a recently rekindled affair. She will appear in two films this year, the second of which, Gary Fleder’s drug-lord drama Homefront, with James Franco and Jason Statham, is due out this fall. The first of them, though, hits theaters this month: Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman, a period piece set mostly in the 1960s and ’70s that stars Michael Shannon as Richard Kuklinski, a real-life contract killer for the mob in New York and New Jersey who is said to have murdered more than 100 people. The real Kuklinski, who was arrested in 1986 and died in prison in 2006, is said to have hid his bloody business from his wife, Barbara, who is played in the film by Ryder (the character is renamed Deborah), while she and their two daughters enjoyed a life of relatively affluent suburban idyll. The film is dark, at times difficult, and unlike anything that Ryder has ever done. But in her hands, Deborah emerges as something much more complicated than a dutiful wife—in one sense, a sympathetic figure, but in another, a woman whose blindness seems as much a product of a darker, more conflicted willfulness as ignorance.
I spoke with the 41-year-old Ryder recently in New York.
STEPHEN MOOALLEM: I heard that you’ve been under the weather.
WINONA RYDER: I don’t know if it’s a cold—it’s just that my voice was kind of going. But it’s back, so I’m actually okay. In a weird way, I was actually hoping that whatever voice thing I’ve got could stay so that I could sort of have a Debra Winger thing going on. I’ve always loved her voice. But it’s getting better, so I’m going to sound like me.
MOOALLEM: Well, you can take advantage of it while it lasts. I’m just going to make sure that we’re recording. Our recorders are digital now, and for some reason, I always doubt that they’re recording.
RYDER: And they used to do this with tape recorders . . . The world.
Here’s some videos done last April 17th during ‘The Iceman’ cast press junket, there’s a ton more under the cut:
Just finished watching and capping Winona interview on Jimmy Fallon (aired last wednesday) and it was great! Loved all the ‘internet’ part, hey, soon she’ll have a laptop. :lol:
Screencaptures are now up in the gallery
and I am still trying to fix the video, I have it up here but having a few sync issues. Will post on the main page as soon I have it fixed and you can watch the video below:
Winona is being interviewed by Jimmy Fallon tonight, and here’s the first look of her at the show.
Check back later for more pics and interview.
Getting things started, we went right to asking Winona if she believed Kuklinski’s wife knew about his contract killing lifestyle:
Winona Ryder: I do. There wasn’t much research available on her that I was aware of. The research that was available was mainly the interviews with [Kuklinski] and the book, so in order to find anything out I’d have to get through hours of him talking about shooting people in the face and then just get a snippet about her. I wouldn’t say so much in the research said it, but I don’t see how anyone could be in a relationship for that long and be married, have kids, for that many years, in an era where people had offices and secretaries and he’s got just a beeper – there were too many things like that. My feeling, and this is just my personal feeling, is that she did know to a certain extent, but she was just in a very obviously deep state of denial, and to acknowledge it or ask the questions would have meant she would have had to bear some of the responsibility. She would have had to leave.
I think in a way she liked her life. She liked nice things. She like how she was living.
It’s interesting because you hear a lot about actresses talking about strong roles for women, and I actually think sometimes playing weaker people can be just as interesting and challenging. I think in a way there was a little bit of denial, but also she just didn’t have the courage. I think we’ve all dealt with denial to a certain extent, it’s very human, but this is to a level that’s mind-boggling to me.
There was definitely some nervous apprehension on my part before meeting Winona Ryder — which, having done this sort of thing hundreds of times before, doesn’t happen often. This most likely stems from my preexisting notion that she’s shy or reserved — or, at the very least, media shy and reserved in front of the press. Soon after meeting the petite actor — who still doesn’t look all that different from the person who danced to Harry Belafonte’s “Jump in the Line” at the end of “Beetlejuice” — I discovered something that would have put my nervous mind at ease: Winona Ryder is, well … a bit of a nerd.
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but she is a fan of the original “Star Trek” television series and used to have a life-size poster of Ellen Ripley on her wall.
Ryder’s new movie is “The Iceman,” the latest in a string of recent higher profile roles for the actress, following films as diverse as “Black Swan” and “Star Trek” (yes we’ll get to “Star Trek”). In “The Iceman,” Ryder plays Deborah Kuklinski, who is married to notorious mob killer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) — only she’s not aware of that whole “mob killer” part.
In a conversation that lasted longer than planned, Ryder dove deep into her filmography to discuss everything from the 25th anniversary of “Beetlejuice” to two of her (somewhat surprising) favorite movie experiences: “Alien Resurrection” and, especially, Richard Linklater’s “A Scanner Darkly” (Ryder’s return to acting after a time spent more in tabloids, not movies). If you take one thing away from this interview, it’s that Ryder really loves “A Scanner Darkly.”
I feel like you’ve been getting a lot of good roles lately, like the one in “The Iceman.”
Are you picky?
Well, I mean, who knows, really? I think there was a time when — and every actor will tell you — there’s a time when you’re sort of at the height of everything and people will tell you that you’re offered everything. You’re kind of under that impression. And then, years later, you find out maybe not. Or that they offered you something that you never even got told about.
“I’ve loved making movies,” Winona Ryder said in Toronto late last year when reflecting back on her 26-year career. “I feel like I’ve been so lucky because I’ve gotten to be in movies that are some of my favorites, regardless of my being in them — like ‘Heathers.’”
Ryder — who turned 42 in October (though she still looks like she’s 30) — made her official debut in the 1986 high school drama “Lucas.” The small, well-received role helped lead to a duo of late 1980s leads — as Lydia in “Beetlejuice” and as Veronica in “Heathers” — that propelled her to become an icon of her generation.
“I was very lucky because Tim Burton really gave me a career,” she said. “I don’t think Hollywood would’ve known what to do with me. If I hadn’t done ‘Beetlejuice,’ I think I would’ve just gone back to my school.”
Ryder also rightfully considers “Heathers” — released a year after “Beetlejuice” in 1989 — a pivotal moment in her early career.
“They didn’t want me for it,” she recalled. “I wasn’t pretty enough. I had to go a mall and get my makeup done, and then I just begged them and begged them. That was a kind of turning point because that was kind of the first movie where I’d played someone who was attractive. And then that led to a lot of films.”
We Are Movie Geek published today an interview done with Winona and Martin Landau during the “Frankenweenie” Press Conference. Check it some highlights:
What was the experience working with Tim Burton again?
WINONA RYDER: Oh, it’s always amazing. I mean, I’m trying to think of like new adjectives to use, because I, um… it, it truly is just such a special experience all every time and, and even also just being around him when just he’s one of my favorite people I think in the world that – just to be around.
Director Tim Burton discusses how his latest film ‘Frankenweenie’ introduces kids to the theme of death and loss, and actress Winona Ryder, who lends her voice to the movie, reveals why she thinks it is a masterpiece.