Winona Ryder Interview – ‘The Iceman’
Starring in The Iceman, Winona Ryder, 41, arrives at the Beverly Hills SLS hotel looking elegant in a black Dior ensemble. She wears minimal makeup, her hair is shoulder length and tousled, and she looks the epitome of a glamorous movie star.
The Iceman is a drama thriller about the life of Mafia hitman, Richard Kuklinski, played by Michael Shannon, and Ryder plays his wife. It also stars Chris Evans and Ray Liotta. Ryder was most recently in The Letter, The Dilemma, and Black Swan
In Ryder’s personal life, she is currently in a relationship with menswear designer, Scott Mackinlay Hahn. She was engaged to Johnny Depp for three years beginning in July 1990. She also dated Soul Asylum front man Dave Pirner, and also Matt Damon.
Q: This is maybe the best performance of your career.
Thank you so much!
Q: Did you read Barbara’s book, “I Married the Iceman”?
I didn’t even know about it. That’s so weird, I didn’t even know about it.
Q: Did you like recreating the seventies style?
I was born in the seventies. My hat is so off to all the department heads because they really worked wonders with no money. Specifically just for me, personally, the wardrobe helped me a lot. I tend to work from the shoes up, like a woman who wears high heels is very different from a woman who wears sandals. I felt like she was a sort of woman who really put herself together even to just go to the supermarket. There’s a scene where I’m like, ‘Do you want anything from the store?’ It’s such a brief scene but I’m in a full Valentino dress, my hair and my makeup. That was who she was. That’s how I saw her. She cared about what people thought and how she looked. Costumes always help even if it’s a corset. Many nice things that have been said about my performances which is due to the lack of oxygen going into me and giving me a look of repression but really it’s just physical.
Q: What about working with Michael Shannon?
I’ll tell you something, when they wrapped, I went to say goodbye. He was still working. He was in the makeup trailer. I went in and I was like, ‘I just want to say goodbye.’ And he couldn’t talk because they were applying the facial hair. And I realized all this time I thought he was kind of glaring at me, he actually couldn’t talk because of the facial hair. It’s apparently kind of restrictive. He’s a very focused guy and very intense. All of the things, yes, they’re all true and ‘in character’. I loved what it brings out in the actors and particularly in me. You have to be present. It doesn’t matter what you’ve prepared, it will go out the window unless you’re just totally present and the spontaneity and all that. Also, he doesn’t eat at all during the day but at the end of the day he goes out to dinner and is a very social person. It was the facial hair. It didn’t cross my mind. It didn’t cross my mind until then. Oh wow! that makes sense.
Q: Have you ever met anyone in organized crime?
I’m trying to think. I wonder if I have but I didn’t know. I’ve met some shady seeming people, but organized crime? I don’t know. I have family from Tenafly, New Jersey, my cousins who competed with the Kuklinski kids swimming in school. That was kind of random. My Aunt Joan was very helpful with the accent.
Q: What do you have coming next?
I want to tell you but I can’t! Honestly, I can’t. Soon, but I’m not allowed to yet. But I’m very excited about it.
Q: There’s been talk about another “Beetlejuice,” that a script is finished.
All I know is that there is scripts being written and I think everyone’s sort of waiting to see.
Q: Are you a fan of mafia movies?
I’m a fan of Scorsese, they’re just great films, you know, “Mean Streets” and “Goodfellas,” and I’m completely obsessed with “The Wire,” it’s not really the mob.
Q: There’s always an audience for these kinds of true crime stories. Do you have any insight as to why?
I don’t have any insight at all. I don’t because if a film is well made and great then whatever it’s about, it’s you know. What I find myself sort of sensitive to is when they make movies about serial killers who want to be famous. Do you know who Joe Bob Briggs is? He wrote this great piece about how when Time Magazine first put the KKK on the cover, even though it was a story about how awful they are, their membership quadrupled. So he was like should we ignore those kind of people because there’s going to be those alienated youth that are like we want to go join now because we don’t know where we belong, or whatever. And it was just a really interesting piece I read in high school and there are guys out there that want to be famous. And there’s a knee jerk reaction to let’s not show it – but then you have to report on certain things.
Q: There are some who think the Boston bombers are being glorified in the media.
Yeah, it’s obviously every situation is different but it’s just something like there’s an energy out there that you want to tap into but you don’t want to contribute to. But here I am in The Iceman so I’m the biggest hypocrite. But I’m trying not to do that. I’m trying, anyway.
Q: We don’t see you so much in movies. Do you feel welcome again in Hollywood? How do you feel personally?
Well I don’t know, I’ve been asked that question a bit in Venice and I don’t know if I am developing a little bit of a complex because I don’t know if you are saying like, ‘We missed you,’ or ‘What are you doing here? (laughter) You are not really relevant.’ But I think seriously, for me, I started so young and when you experience a lot of blessings and success when I did, and usually you know you are told you get three years, it’s great just to have that. So, I was sort of constantly couldn’t believe that I was still doing it back in my 20s, and then I think I just went through a time where I realized how important it was to have a life outside of it because at the end of the day you come home and if you are just, I mean every actor knows sometimes you are just like waiting to wrap something, and then you are freaking out at trying to find work. It’s a weird cycle, and so I had to sort of get out of that a little bit. I am really very close to my family and my friends and there’s other stuff that I do, that I am interested in, and I think living in San Francisco, basing myself there, it’s equally as important for me to be a good friend to my friends and sister and her daughter and just a good person and have a healthy life that I can feel good about. It’s real important to me and I think I needed to take some time to do that, but also I think, we are very blessed, actors are very blessed, and I am not complaining at all, but when you do it, when you go through adolescence doing it and you are the ingénue, and there is a lot of pressure. Then you go through this weird age and I am now 40 and I’m actually very psyched to be 40. I am psyched to get older because I just think you just become more yourself, more comfortable with yourself and it’s more interesting and the roles doesn’t really matter, the size of the roles, usually those kind of roles that are more interesting. It takes something special to make me want to leave my life, and this was something that did that. So, I am sorry for the long winded answer. (laughs)
Q: You said that you started so young in this career, and which do you consider is the main difference between the film business when you started and the time when you are living right now?
Well when I started, I did around six movies before I ever did an interview with anyone, there was like a couple of magazines, there was Premiere and like People, (laughter) and like literally, there were no computers, there was none of that. So you would hear, like, Al Pacino is making a movie, and then you would wait a whole year and you wouldn’t know what it was about, and you wouldn’t know how much anyone was paid, or anything like that. Then you would wait on line and you would get your ticket and the lights would go down and it was great, it was so great, the mystery. And now it’s like, are they worth the price of their salary? It’s harder, but I don’t want that, but I also am I think a little bit old fashioned, and nostalgic for those days because they were great working. And I feel like if I was starting out, if I was younger and just starting in today’s industry and the internet and instant access and that lack of privacy and all of that, I don’t think I would become an actress. I don’t know what else I do, I would probably be a good bystander, (laughter) like I could stand by while someone did something and tell someone else about it. I don’t know. (laughs)
Q: How do you feel about your career when you look back on how you started and where you are now?
(laughs) Well, I feel very blessed actually, because I feel that Tim Burton gave me a career with Beetlejuice because I don’t know if Hollywood would have known what the hell to do with me. I wasn’t very pretty and I was sort of going through my adolescence and so that film was very groundbreaking and also successful, and that led to some other things and so I owe a lot to that film. It’s not like when I am not on screen I am up like Norma Desmond (laughter) like with my monkey and my director as my butler, (laughter) with a crazy cigarette holder. Like I said, a life that I am active and engaged in.