She got her start with Tim Burton in 1988’s Beetlejuice, and in recent years Winona Ryder seems to be circling back to the eccentric filmmaker, voicing a character in last year’s Frankenweenie and speculating on a Beetlejuice remake (“All I know is that there’s a script being written,” she told the press). Our inner goth cracks a small smile.
In recent years, the '90s icon is staging a comeback with appearances in the blockbuster Star Trek, Oscar darling Black Swan and now The Iceman, in which she plays wife to real-life mob murderer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon). Here, Ryder talks about dressing for the part, a TV version of Heathers (which needs to exist, this instant), and the media’s part in encouraging crime. Always the thought-provoker, Winona Ryder is still every bit a gal after our own (dark) hearts.
Do you think your character in The Iceman knew her husband was a murderer?
"She did, I think she did. There’s no way to be in a relationship for that long, to have kids, and not know. And she’s doing his laundry and he’s shooting people in the face, so there's going to be some blood. I just think that the level of denial was so deep that for her to get to a place to acknowledge it would have meant that she would have had to take some responsibility, and then also raise these kids on her own, which she should have done and many women do. But there was a real sort of greed, an ugliness, I thought. I really saw her as someone who flourishes from this essentially blood money, and chose not to look at it the same way."
Did you have fun recreating the '70s style?
"I was born in the '70s. My hat is so off to all the department heads because they really worked wonders with no money. For me, personally, the wardrobe helped a lot. I tend to work from the shoes up, so 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, with hair and makeup. That’s how I saw her — she cared about what people thought, how she looked."
So, there’s a Heathers TV show, have you heard anything about this?
"Yeah, I heard that it’s supposed to be my character’s kid in high school and her name is Ashley. I talked to Dan Waters, a good friend of mine, and it’s weird because neither of us knew anything about it. We heard about it with everybody else and we didn’t know what to think. That should be interesting. I love that movie so much. I can’t really imagine it on..."
We think it’s Bravo.
"The language is so important in that. It’s such a good movie."
There’s always an audience for these kind of true-crime stories. Do you have any insight as to why?
"I don’t have any insight at all. 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 these people — cause 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."
There are some who think the Boston bombers are being glorified in the media.
"Yeah, it’s obvious 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 then again, here I am in The Iceman, so I’m the biggest hypocrite."
The Iceman is in theaters May 3.
Photo: Jim Smeal/BEImages.