Interview

ET, 1998

In this one-on-one interview with ET, WINONA RYDER lets her hair down on the set of her new film, ‘Lost Souls.’ Join us as Winona gives us the scoop on her return to the big screen, her outlook on faith, and her new long locks!

Entertainment Tonight: I just read an interview with you that you probably haven’t seen yet in LA Magazine–

Winona Ryder: Yeah, actually I did see it.

ET: So, the things that intrigued me about that — some of them are — “I’m going back to work and I’m absolutely terrified.” Why?

Winona: Now, I’ve calmed down a bit now that I’m in my third week. It’s just that everyone gets that fear when you’ve taken a lot of time off that maybe somehow, in some way, you’ve forgotten how to do what you do. I think maybe in every profession… a writer, who takes a lot of time off. My dad is a writer and talks about how he gets scared that he’s not going to be able to construct a sentence again when he gets back from vacation. I think it’s a natural fear. And also, just getting into the whole mode of work. It’s a different reality… a real strange reality.

ET: Then you pick a real strange film to star in. I mean, why didn’t you pick something — not easy, but less weird… I mean, how would you characterize this?

Winona: It was very intriguing, firstly because of the director JANUSZ KAMINSKI, who I worked with as cinematographer, but who also is just an incredible person who’s so talented. I even think I could use the word “genius” at what he does, and I completely always thought he should be a director. So, it was a great opportunity to work with him and he’s also a friend. It was something that I just normally would never really have been drawn to, the material, it touches on things that I’m not sure where I stand on in my own life. Things — God and faith — things that I think when you’re in your 20s you’re sort of still figuring out where you stand, so in the film I play a woman of devout faith. A woman who really believes in God and the devil, and it’s very kind of far from where I’m at in my life. I certainly believe in energies and stuff like that, but I don’t believe in the devil. And so to me, because it was so foreign to me, is why it was so intriguing. I think I’m always attracted to things that I feel like are very different from me as a person.

ET: Which is one thing that I find really commendable about you is that you never pick roles or films because they’re going to be a hit film.

Winona: (Laughs) Clearly. Well, I’m drawn to what I’m drawn to. It’s actually, oddly, a very easy process for me. I either read something and I love it, or I read something and I don’t know how I feel about it. And when I love it, I end up trying to do it. So, you always know that the ones you have to hem or haw over for a couple of days are usually the ones you shouldn’t be doing. But all the elements of this movie are really exciting and it’s really great group of people — amazing group of actors. I feel just really lucky. It’s good opportunity for me too.

ET: This is really opposite from you because everybody knows, or a lot of people know, that you grew up in a non-traditional, non-religious family. And then here you are really, really, really acting…

Winona: Well, what was great about my upbringing is that my parents, being writers and very kinda warm, open, intelligent people, they taught me about all different kinds of religion. They just didn’t say for me to lean towards any specific one. My mom was very Buddhist, so that was probably the biggest influence on me when I was growing up. I went to Buddhist schools when I was young. They both grew up very religious in the ’50s and they didn’t want to inflict anything on us, so they wanted us to choose. They’re definitely weren’t anti-religion. But I did kinda grow up in this very loose, you know… I did not grow up with the fear of God — I’ll put it that way. And, this movie deals with that.

ET: I envy you, because I did. The Bible vs. fear and love of God…

Winona: Well, it seems like everyone ends up rebelling against it when they’re raised so strictly with it. You know, MADONNA, perfect example… she’s done everything to embracing it to rebelling to shocking. But I appreciate all different religions and I think you should take what you can from each one of them and make up your own.

ET: A la carte. So this movie’s a lot about faith. Talk to me about faith… Do you have faith? Faith in what?

Winona: That’s a very difficult question, because faith is so associated with religion. When you hear the word, you automatically think of… But I think of it as believing in something, and I certainly have that. I have faith in myself, my family, my friends — it’s kind of a boring answer, but it’s too difficult.

ET: It is tough.

Winona: It’s too difficult… I mean, I’d have to go into like a whole… We’d have to have a four-hour conversation about that. I can’t sum it up.

ET: So, the audience doesn’t think that’s how you look now?

Winona: Ohhhhh. Today, we’re filming the very end of the movie, so I look a bit wrecked. I really look much better than this.

ET: Is that your real hair — they always have me ask that question?

Winona: Yeah, actually I grew it out… I grew it out for the movie. I kind of lightened it a little bit.

ET: What can you tell me, without giving too much away, about the film? What’s it about? What’s going on?

Winona: I would say, as simply as I can, without giving away too much because it is a thriller and there’s a lot of twists and turns, I would say it’s about someone of great faith having to convince someone, who’s completely devoid of faith, that they’re the center of a conspiracy having to do with the devil. And having to do it in a certain amount of time — the clock is ticking. That’s probably about as best I can do.

ET: That’s fine. You don’t believe in God and the devil, but you believe in good and evil, I imagine.

Winona: Yeah, I believe in good energy and bad energy, definitely.

ET: At the end of a grueling day in this dark subject, is it easy for you, after they say wrap to leave it behind?

Winona: It’s never really easy to do that, but being that I’m turning 27 next week and being someone who doesn’t have a family that I go home to, and I don’t have children to take care of… if I had that it would probably be a lot easier, night and day, to separate, but because I just kinda wander back to my hotel room, it does linger with you, definitely… The mood of the movie. But in a good way, in a way that just keeps you focused.

ET: Now, that you’re back in the public eye–

Winona: (Laughs) Back in the public eye!

ET: Remember you took that hiatus…

Winona: No, no, it’s just that I’ve never heard it put that way. That’s fine.

ET: Because you took this hiatus… Right? Are people still pestering you? Am I missing the boat? You know, the cameras… the shutterbugs that bother you all the time?

Winona: Oh, you know, it just kind of comes with it. It’s really an impossible thing to complain about, because if you complain about it, you get the “Well, why are you an actress in the first place” argument, which is impossible to have ’cause it really has nothing to do with being pestered by vultures with cameras. They’re very separate. I love what I do for a living and this just goes along with it, unfortunately. It’s not been bad, I haven’t gotten it too bad. I think people are really used to me ’cause I’ve been around for — I’m going into my 15th year making movies — and I was never like an overnight sensation. I’m just kind of there. Certainly there’s nothing Leonardo-ish about me right now.