By Stephen Mooallen for Interview Magazine
Winona Ryder knows her Simple Mindsâ€”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 actingâ€”that thing that kept her very busy throughout most of her teens and her twentiesâ€”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 wifeâ€”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 coldâ€”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.
And here’s the photoshoot Winona did to Interview magazine. Sultry, to say the least…
Some new official images and behind the scenes photos of ‘The Letter’ has been added to the gallery:
Some pretty additional photos Winona did to Interview magazine back in 1993 was added.
Holy sexy cover, Batman!
Winona is on the cover of Interview May issue, talking about her return. And THAT is a return!
For Winona Ryder, the challenge of playing the wife of a serial killer was all about what she wasnâ€™t supposed to know.
â€œThis was something that Iâ€™d never done before â€” this genre, true crime â€” and my biggest fear was that there would be something romantic about it,â€ she tells the May issue of Interview magazine.
â€œI could not watch all of those interviews with Richard Kuklinski that are on YouTube or do a lot of research, because what creeps me out even more than the guy himself is the fascination that other people have with this kind of violence. I mean, I get it, but I also see it as repulsive, because this was not a guy in a situation where this guy was war-torn and it was kill or be killed. He was straight-up murdering people for a lot of money.â€
Kuklinski, who grew up in Jersey City, claims to have killed more than 100 men before he was caught in 1986. He started commuting into Manhattan to practice murder on random victims in Hellâ€™s Kitchen in the â€™50s, and worked as a hit man for the DeCavalcante and Gambino crime families. He earned the chilling nickname â€œIcemanâ€ by freezing his victims after killing them to disguise the time of their deaths.
In â€œThe Iceman,â€ out this weekend, Michael Shannon plays Kuklinski and Ryder plays his wife, Barbara, though the script changes her name to Deborah.
â€œI thought about the wives of people like Bernie Madoff and even about â€˜The Sopranos.â€™ But I didnâ€™t do a lot of research, because if I had, then I think I would have played it in a way that the director did not want me to play it. I just went through the script with a Sharpie and blacked out all of the scenes where he was killing people and the ones that I wasnâ€™t in where things were happening that she wasnâ€™t aware of â€” or maybe she was aware them, but was choosing to be in denial about them,â€ she tells Interview.
â€œOn some level, she had to have known, and so I think she does bear some responsibility, and that was something that I tried to infuse into the character â€” a sense of greed and of, like, â€˜Baby, you better go do what you gotta do, because I want to buy my Valentino suits.â€™ It was very important to me to show that she was not this naive, wide-eyed mother. She wants to live the way theyâ€™re living. Thereâ€™s also a scene where the girls come into their bedroom and Deborah says the thing about how there are too many people in the world for God to care about all of them. Thatâ€™s actually a horrible thing to say to your kids . . .
â€œWhile I know that a lot of people refer to her as a victim, I donâ€™t. Maybe she didnâ€™t know that he was, like, shooting people in the face, but to have stayed with him for that long, she had to have known on some level.â€
The photoshoot is really beautiful, you can find it already in our gallery, and I can’t wait to see the whole spread. Of course you’ll have scans up as soon I put my hands on my own copy. Thanks Chris B for the heads up!
I have up some pictures – sadly tagged, but beautiful anyway – of Winona last week during ‘The Iceman’ press junket. Will keep looking to replace those for untagged ones, but for now, enjoy these:
Edit: My friend Lindsey donated untagged pictures, with some new additions. Enjoy it!