12:59 pm - 10/05/2012

Winona Ryder talks Frankenweenie, Beetlejuice, Heathers, and the first time she met Tim Burton

Frankenweenie, from director Tim Burton and screenwriter John August, is a charming, macabre and heartwarming tale, about Victor (voiced by Charlie Tahan), a young boy who, after unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life, but quickly faces unintended and sometimes monstrous consequences for his actions. The voice cast also includes Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder and Atticus Shaffer.

At the film’s press junket, actress Winona Ryder talked about what it was like to reunite with Tim Burton again (it’s been 22 years since Edward Scissorhands), how she found the experience of doing voice-over work, the messages that she connected to in the story, her impressions from the first time she worked with Burton on Beetlejuice, and why she’s always gravitated towards dark films and characters.

Question: What was it like to work with Tim Burton again?

WINONA RYDER: Oh, it’s always amazing! I’m trying to think of like new adjectives to use because it truly is just such a special experience, every time. He’s one of my favorite people, in the world, to be around, so it never really feels like work, in that way, even though it is very creative. But, working with him is very different than other directors. Tim is very unique and very expressive. We never finish a sentence with each other. Even if he’s not verbal, you always feel very safe.

If you feel like you want to talk about something, you can. You just don’t need to. It’s that telepathic thing that happens. With all of the darkness that’s associated with him, there’s so much heart, in all of his movies. With Ed Wood, I sobbed. With Frankenweenie, I was crying. With Edward Scissorhands, I always cry. There’s always an incredible amount of purity, even if they look a certain way. Elsa was based on Lydia from Beetlejuice, a little bit. The reason that Lydia could see the ghosts was because she was young and not caught up in everything the way her parents were. That’s why, when little kids come up and say, “Are you the girl from Beetlejuice?,” it’s such a wonderful, warm, amazing feeling for me. Being associated with those films makes me so happy.

How did you find the experience of doing voice-over work?

RYDER:  For me, just to be asked to be a part of something that was so personal to him, and that I’d actually been hearing about for 25 years, was just a huge honor.  He is also someone that I have just a deep love for.  He’s someone that’s very special to me, and that I feel really gave me a career, in a big way.  He’s maybe just one of my favorite people to be around.  So, what was nice about doing the voice-work, which I haven’t done a lot of – just a couple episodes of The Simpsons and Dr. Katz. 

If Tim was doing this film and I wasn’t in it, I would have been trying to be there anyway, just to hang out.  It doesn’t feel like work, really.  It does when you’re doing it, but it’s not that, “Oh, god, when are we going to wrap?,” kind of feeling.  You can do it forever.  And he’s the same guy who I met, 25 years ago.  Obviously, life has happened and he has a family and we’ve all grown up, but he still directs the same.  I got the same direction that I did on Beetlejuice.  Elsa is sort of a younger Lydia, in a way, and I drew on that and on my feelings for Tim, for Elsa’s feelings for Victor. He has this shorthand with his actors, and you just get it. It’s magical. It’s telepathy.

What did you most closely connect with, in regard to this story?

RYDER: It made me think about how technology can be used for so much good and for exposing corruption, but then there’s this other weird side that’s more just opinions. The message with science is such a beautiful message. A lot of people have had these relationships with their animals. I did, and that loss is very deep. There’s that letting go.

What was it like to become a recording artist for this?

RYDER: I don’t know if I have a future in that.

What do you recall about your first impressions of working with Tim Burton, back on Beetlejuice?

RYDER: I vividly remember meeting him. I had black hair. I was talking to someone in the waiting room for awhile, just about movies and music. And then, after about 30 minutes, I was like, “Do you know when this Tim Burton guy is showing up, ‘cause I may be in the wrong building?,” and he was like, “Oh, that’s me.” I had no idea that a director could be so cool, in that way. I had only worked with more authoritative directors. On the set for Beetlejuice, it was before people would go watch on monitors, and directors would be next to the camera. Tim would be watching you, and it was very peripheral while you were trying to be in the moment. And then, the first monitor came and it was a little TV. I heard, “Wait, someone’s in the shot!,” and it was Tim. That’s the first time I’ve told that story.

You’ve often gravitated towards dark films and characters, and have never really tried to fill the Hollywood sex symbol role. Why is that?

RYDER: It’s interesting because, even with Beetlejuice, I was an awkward kid. I started at puberty, and went through it on film. Lydia was one of my favorite roles because I related to her a lot. That did lead to Heathers, but I had to really fight quite hard to be cast in Heathers because I wasn’t considered attractive enough to be a popular girl. But, I have just been really lucky that the directors that I’ve worked with don’t gravitate that way.

I was watching First Wives’ Club, and there’s this line where one of them is like, “There are three roles in Hollywood for women — babe, district attorney and Driving Miss Daisy,” and I was like, “Oh, my god, that’s not funny!” What Tim has given me is the in between. I remember being offered the rookie cop on the trail of a serial killer, but I didn’t buy myself as a rookie cop. I did have a few opportunities to try to go that way, but it didn’t make sense for me. I just did what I found interesting. I was so lucky that I was able to do that, especially in the ‘90s. I was really able to have a life to go back to. The experience itself is the reward. It’s about being present, in that moment. I’ve been very, very blessed and very lucky.

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whiskybars 5th-Oct-2012 08:07 pm (UTC)
That did lead to Heathers, but I had to really fight quite hard to be cast in Heathers because I wasn’t considered attractive enough to be a popular girl

ugh i need her to make an epic comeback already.
manicpixiegirl 5th-Oct-2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
i honestly don't think she wants a big comeback. she seems happy with the smaller roles she's getting now.
moddchicc 5th-Oct-2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
I think so too
whiskybars 5th-Oct-2012 08:14 pm (UTC)
yeah i know that after being huge for a while and working nonstop for years she's happy with the way things are rn but i'm a selfish stan who wants more of her in films/magazines etc
greyfilm 5th-Oct-2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
Seriously. She was (is) so beautiful.
the_wolski 5th-Oct-2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
xtinkerbellax 5th-Oct-2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
enema_recipe 6th-Oct-2012 12:04 am (UTC)
Yeah, that is ridiculous! I've always considered her one of the most attractive actresses ever tbh
masterofmystery 5th-Oct-2012 08:08 pm (UTC)
The voice cast also includes Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder

dear god, tim burton, other actors DO exist in this world that aren't this lot, your wife, and your lover johnny depp. break out a little, for heaven's sake
moddchicc 5th-Oct-2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
At least Johnny and HBC aren't in this one though, lol
masterofmystery 5th-Oct-2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
probably because they were doing the stupid lone ranger together lmao
yurasama_love 5th-Oct-2012 08:16 pm (UTC)
I think that's impossible for him.
reidacted 5th-Oct-2012 08:25 pm (UTC)
and your lover johnny depp

artemisbones94 7th-Oct-2012 05:45 am (UTC)
true, but im halfway glad to see names that haven't really been seen in a burton movie in a while.
vanishingbee 5th-Oct-2012 08:10 pm (UTC)
jfc I thought it was tina fey in that picture
the_wolski Re: 5th-Oct-2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
omg i would luv for them to play sisters now that i think about it

like tina this uppity ice queen, and winonna like this free spirit party girl
kristinized 5th-Oct-2012 09:14 pm (UTC)
I would pay to see that movie
enema_recipe 6th-Oct-2012 12:09 am (UTC)
That would be fabulous tbh! Winona is fantastic at comedic acting. She was my favorite part of The Ten.
manicpixiegirl 5th-Oct-2012 08:10 pm (UTC)
ilh but she has such psycho eyes now
greencancer 5th-Oct-2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
it's the eyebrows, I am certain she's done something to her face
toilandblood 6th-Oct-2012 06:05 am (UTC)
i think its just some of those awards photos. i just saw candids of her from earlier this month and i thought she looked gorgeous.
moddchicc 5th-Oct-2012 08:11 pm (UTC)
Winona ♥ Looking forward to seeing Frankenweenie this weekend
glittergunshot 5th-Oct-2012 08:12 pm (UTC)
but I had to really fight quite hard to be cast in Heathers because I wasn’t considered attractive enough to be a popular girl

Well fuck me gently with a chainsaw. No in all seriousness Winona is stunning.
supehsunny 5th-Oct-2012 08:19 pm (UTC)
seriously, what is their damage?
jasonbeast 5th-Oct-2012 09:16 pm (UTC)
They had brain tumors for breakfast.
daddyissues 5th-Oct-2012 09:50 pm (UTC)
yeah i always found her quite pretty
iamalreadyinuse 5th-Oct-2012 08:16 pm (UTC)
winona forever
curlycutie016 5th-Oct-2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
I'm convinced she did something more than the shoplifting and pissed off the wrong people (I don't know what because she's practically perfect) because I can't understand why she was blacklisted for so long over a scarf or whatever it was she stole.
lucifersam 5th-Oct-2012 08:25 pm (UTC)
my theory is that gwyneth engineered a coup lol
greyfilm 5th-Oct-2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
ugh, I wouldn't put it past her

but then again, I just like blaming Gwyneth for everything :D
manicpixiegirl 5th-Oct-2012 08:26 pm (UTC)
she was apparently difficult to deal with on sets and abused prescription drugs a lot. the shoplifting just acted as a easy reason to blacklist her.
jeugd1 5th-Oct-2012 08:55 pm (UTC)
I still want to know why she shoplifted and I agree
Some actors have done worse and are still getting parts
jasonbeast 5th-Oct-2012 09:18 pm (UTC)
I've heard various stories about her being vile to people on-set when she was younger. It wasn't just the scarf; she was very mean-spirited for a while.
run_atreyu 6th-Oct-2012 10:46 am (UTC)
There was a site I read ages ago which had collected a load of blind items and allegedly they were all about Winona. The main thing I remember was her being a nightmare to work with and basically getting blacklisted in Hollywood. I agree that there has to be something more going on than the shoplifting. Hollywood is relentlessly hard on any woman not presenting as perfect, but I struggle with the idea that someone as high profile as Winona can vanish completely as a result of a shoplifting trial, no matter how profile.

Edited at 2012-10-06 10:47 am (UTC)
greyfilm 5th-Oct-2012 08:20 pm (UTC)

That’s why, when little kids come up and say, “Are you the girl from Beetlejuice?,” it’s such a wonderful, warm, amazing feeling for me. Being associated with those films makes me so happy.

Hell yeah! Beetlejuice is flawless!
jenslore 5th-Oct-2012 08:45 pm (UTC)
That really makes me love her. She and Darlene from Roseanne were my goth chick idols growing up lmao
greyfilm 5th-Oct-2012 09:35 pm (UTC)
Like, I would be so freaking proud to have been in some of the stuff she's been in. Glad she appreciates how awesome those projects were.
highwayended 5th-Oct-2012 08:20 pm (UTC)
love her
ms_mmelissa 5th-Oct-2012 08:24 pm (UTC)
I feel like if Tim Burton hadn't hooked up with Helena Bonham Carter, Winona would have played her roles in the last few movies.

I can totally imagine Winona as the Red Queen or Mrs. Lovett.
moddchicc 5th-Oct-2012 08:26 pm (UTC)
He's been trying to work with Winona again for years. She was the first choice for Sleepy Hollow before Christina Ricci got cast.
ms_mmelissa 5th-Oct-2012 08:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, cool I didn't know. She would have been great in that!
hemsworth 5th-Oct-2012 09:13 pm (UTC)
ooh i didn't know that. while i loved christina ricci in that film i think seeing winona would be just as amazing
greyfilm 5th-Oct-2012 09:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that always weirded me out that Winona and Christina played sisters (Winona obvs being the older one) in Mermaids and that Johnny was a mutual leading man.

I don't know if that makes sense, but ... yeah.
mynamehere07 5th-Oct-2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
I can't picture anyone but her as Veronica in Heathers. She had the right balance of beauty and "darkness" for the role. I thought the whole point of Veronica was she was an "outsider" who got taken in by the "cool group."
xtinkerbellax 5th-Oct-2012 08:31 pm (UTC)
She'll always be one of my faves. Beetlejuice and Mermaids were two of my favorite movies when I was younger.
greyfilm 5th-Oct-2012 09:32 pm (UTC)
God, YES. LOVE!!!
toilandblood 6th-Oct-2012 06:11 am (UTC)
me too. not only as an actress but as a person too i thought she was so cool because she had great taste in music and always dated such attractive people.
the_wolski 5th-Oct-2012 08:32 pm (UTC)
winonna has like the best filmography i luv it<3

i remember when i saw the black swan premiere at TIFF they waited to introduce her till the end, and announced her as "the icon, winonna ryder" and everyone stood up and applauded<3 it warmed my heart i was so exited<3 lol
prophecypro 5th-Oct-2012 08:37 pm (UTC)
Bettlejuice was the shit
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