Q&A: Winona Ryder

Your new film, The Dilemma, is your first comedy since Mr Deeds with Adam Sandler back in 2002.

Yeah, although it’s very different from that. There have been some dark comedies here and there, but this is one of those movies – it’s very funny, anything with Vince Vaughn is very funny – but also it poses a question that everybody at some point in their lives gets asked, which is: if you knew your best friend’s significant other was cheating on them, would you tell?

It’s not called The Dilemma for nothing. And you play a key role.

I’m the one having the affair. (Vince) is the one who catches me. My husband (played by Kevin James) is his best friend and he goes through this whole thing of ‘Should I tell or shouldn’t I?’ It’s very comic but there’s also a lot of heartbreak because … well, the film has a lot of heart in it.

How did it feel to play the femme fatale?

There is something very noirish about her – until the end, when you realise how vulnerable she is.

Did director Ron Howard make a conscious decision to cast you against type?

In the beginning, they were interested in me for the role of Vince’s girlfriend (which ultimately went to Jennifer Connelly). Ron told me it was Vince who suggested it would be interesting for me to play against type. I was just very grateful to them for giving me that opportunity because it is easy to cast me as the doe-eyed innocent. It was a really fun role to play.

In terms of the film’s central dilemma, where do you sit – do you tell or do you not tell?

Oh God, I don’t know! It all depends on the situation because things can be so misread. Something can look like flirting when really you are trying to sell a piece of real estate. But I have certainly been in that situation before and I haven’t told and then I have gotten confronted and it’s made it worse. I don’t think I could withhold that from my best friend. Especially if she was madly in love and thinking everything was perfect.

On the other hand … Ignorance is bliss, right?

You also appear in the ballet thriller Black Swan with Natalie Portman.

I play a diva who is being replaced. It’s like four or five scenes, but it’s a great role. She’s a prima ballerina, and in the ballet world your career is over when you are very, very young. She’s being not only replaced but she’s being fired and dumped by her boyfriend who is head of the ballet. She just spirals into this horrible, horrible Darren Aronofsky world of torture.

Although it’s set in a very different world to Aronofsky’s last film, The Wrestler, ballet is similarly visceral and intense.

It’s like every scene I am in, I am in some phase of complete anguish. It’s a very interesting look at the quest for perfection, what these women are prepared to sacrifice even knowing it’s going to be over for them at a very young age. All of those cliches you hear about are true. They chain smoke, they don’t eat, they are so fragile, yet they can endure these insane ballets.

While your role is only small, did you like how attention-grabbing it is?

Black Swan was one of the best roles I have had in ages. I’m not afraid to play some of that kind of stuff. I thought it was great that Darren saw this parallel in my own life. I have just turned 39, so I am getting to that age where it’s going to be a transition for me. The scripts are going to be different. And Natalie, well, there’s not really a parallel because she is much younger than me, but she’s been working for so long she’s definitely earned her place amongst the great actresses.

Did you have any reservations going in?

I thought it was really cool that Darren saw me as someone who had a great run in her teens and 20s and then had a harder time. It was a really interesting parallel that I could understand. Of course, I still hope for great roles and scripts, but the industry has changed so much, it’s like it really is based on different things than it used to be based on. But there’s always hope.

The LA Times has placed you on comeback alert. How does that feel?

Obviously, these are higher-profile movies and there are better movies than some of the ones, frankly, that I have done. But I don’t really pay attention to that sort of stuff.

Your next film is Tim Burton’s stop-motion Frankenweenie. What was it like to work with your Edward Scissorhands director again?

I love him so much. He’s a good friend and a huge … I feel like he put me on the map in a way. It’s really great to be reunited with him.

There have been reports of a Heathers sequel, as well as a musical and a TV series.

I know they are doing a musical and I know they are doing a TV series, but I don’t know much about them. The Heathers sequel is not true. I was lobbying for it for a long time, but I got shot down.

You are an avid collector and, according to one report, you recently bought a dress from Gone With the Wind. True?

I only have a blouse from Gone With the Wind, but I do collect paraphernalia from old movies. Just anything old I like … first editions and prints.

You just sold your house in Los Angeles. Was that a wrench?

No. It was like a gigantic place and everyone was coming past on the tour thing, so it got to be a drag. I had been there for 16 years. I spend a lot of time in San Francisco and New York, and I have another place in LA that is more appropriate for me.

Source: Herald Sun