I suspect there are some people who simply aren’t built to do press.
Winona Ryder has been, in every single interaction I’ve had with her over the last twenty three years, lovely each and every time. I spent a fair amount of time on the set of “Edward Scissorhands” when it shot in Tampa, and that was the early days of the tabloids being interested in her because of her co-star and then-boyfriend Johnny Depp. It was obvious back then that she loved the actual work in front of the camera and she loved the collaboration with Tim Burton and the other actors and she hated hated HATED the press and, in particular, photographers.
She has been far less visible in recent years, and part of that is just a natural reaction to the way the industry writes for women. Ryder’s at an age that Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with, and so there aren’t a lot of things written that would interest her or that seem like the right fit for her.
In “The Iceman,” she plays the wife of real-life mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski, and the way writer/director Ariel Vromen handles things in the film, he makes the case that Deborah (Ryder) had no idea what her husband was doing. She believed the stories he told her about his work, and she didn’t question their lifestyle.
There is a real delicacy to the work between Ryder and Michael Shannon, who plays Kuklinski, and watching the way he changes when he’s around her, you can believe that he convinced her that he was a good and decent man. There’s also a real delicacy to Ryder in person, and that’s what I mean when I say maybe press just isn’t her thing. I think almost every reporter who was at the press day was excited to talk to her, and in general, I think most people have a real fondness for her and would treat her well in conversation. But if you’re a very private person, that can be a whole lot of yourself to share in one day, and I did my best to make it a light, enjoyable conversation. We talked about Tampa and the “Edward” shoot before the camera was turned on, and it helped. She lit up and immediately started talking about some of the most memorable events during the location shoot.
It also helped that when we started talking, I articulated something that I think she’d been talking around all day long. Watch her reaction here. It’s great.
Ryder’s a huge pleasure both offscreen and on, and I hope we see more of her in the near future, and that there are filmmakers thinking of great ways they could collaborate with her. She’s a gem.
“The Iceman” is open in limited release today.