'The Iceman' star opens up in new issue of Interview, saying she couldn't watch any of the interviews with Kuklinski because she would get creeped out.
When Winona Ryder was a teen, a casting director told her, “Listen, kid. You should not be an actress. You are not pretty enough. You should go back to wherever you came from and you should go to school. You don’t have it." New Interview magazine pictures sure prove her wrong.
For Winona Ryder, the challenge of playing the wife of a serial killer was all about what she wasn’t supposed to know.
“This was something that I’d never done before — this genre, true crime — and my biggest fear was that there would be something romantic about it,” she tells the May issue of Interview magazine.
Winona Ryder covers the May issue of Interview magazine.
“I could not watch all of those interviews with Richard Kuklinski that are on YouTube or do a lot of research, because what creeps me out even more than the guy himself is the fascination that other people have with this kind of violence. I mean, I get it, but I also see it as repulsive, because this was not a guy in a situation where this guy was war-torn and it was kill or be killed. He was straight-up murdering people for a lot of money.”
Kuklinski, who grew up in Jersey City, claims to have killed more than 100 men before he was caught in 1986. He started commuting into Manhattan to practice murder on random victims in Hell’s Kitchen in the ’50s, and worked as a hit man for the DeCavalcante and Gambino crime families. He earned the chilling nickname “Iceman” by freezing his victims after killing them to disguise the time of their deaths.
To prep for her role as the wife of a real-life serial killer in "The Iceman," Ryder says, "I just went through the script with a Sharpie and blacked out all of the scenes where he was killing people and the ones that I wasn’t in where things were happening that she wasn’t aware of."
In “The Iceman,” out this weekend, Michael Shannon plays Kuklinski and Ryder plays his wife, Barbara, though the script changes her name to Deborah.
“I thought about the wives of people like Bernie Madoff and even about ‘The Sopranos.’ But I didn’t do a lot of research, because if I had, then I think I would have played it in a way that the director did not want me to play it. I just went through the script with a Sharpie and blacked out all of the scenes where he was killing people and the ones that I wasn’t in where things were happening that she wasn’t aware of — or maybe she was aware them, but was choosing to be in denial about them,” she tells Interview.
“On some level, she had to have known, and so I think she does bear some responsibility, and that was something that I tried to infuse into the character — a sense of greed and of, like, ‘Baby, you better go do what you gotta do, because I want to buy my Valentino suits.’ It was very important to me to show that she was not this naive, wide-eyed mother. She wants to live the way they’re living. There’s also a scene where the girls come into their bedroom and Deborah says the thing about how there are too many people in the world for God to care about all of them. That’s actually a horrible thing to say to your kids . . .
“While I know that a lot of people refer to her as a victim, I don’t. Maybe she didn’t know that he was, like, shooting people in the face, but to have stayed with him for that long, she had to have known on some level.”