No phoenix force driving Ryder

Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012

Winona Ryder has been working steadily for years, following a hiatus in the wake of her sensationalized shoplifting conviction dating back to an incident in 2001 at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Yet many people, including media who don’t do their homework, seem to think that every new movie is a miraculous “comeback” from total obscurity.

So there was Ryder again defending herself and her career at Monday’s Toronto filmfest press conference for her latest film, the drama The Iceman. Ryder plays Deborah Kuklinski, the wife of true-life mob contract killer Richard Kuklinski, who is portrayed by Michael Shannon. The same film just screened at the Venice filmfest and Ryder said she got the same question there.

“I’ve been asked that question a bit in Venice and I don’t know if I’m developing a little bit of a complex, because I don’t know if you’re saying: ‘We missed you!’ or you’re saying: ‘What are you doing here? You’re not welcome!’ ”

Ryder, now 40 and living happily in San Francisco, said she is enjoying her age, her life and her career as an actress who works only when the role calls to her. Like it did in Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman.

“I’m really very close to my family and friends and there’s other stuff that I do, that I’m interested in … I’m now 40 and I’m actually very psyched to be 40 and I like to get older because I think you become more yourself and more comfortable with yourself and it’s more interesting.”

As for roles in movies, the size and place on the marquee in irrelevant, she said. So a support role in The Iceman was appealing. “It takes something very special to make me want to leave my life and this was something that did that.”

Her only reluctance, Ryder said, was that the real Deborah Kuklinski is “not findable” because she has changed her name and become incognito after her husband’s dual life as a killer and a happy family man was exposed and he was jailed, where he died in 2006.

“It’s always challenging if you’re playing someone who existed, because you can’t just create someone out of your imagination and you do often feel that sense of responsibility,” Ryder said. This is the first time where she played a real person without some contact or context. “I was reluctant at first because I would want a blessing from her of some sort.”


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