Winona Ryder Says Keanu Reeves Refused Directions to Verbally Abuse Her While Filming Dracula
Update June 25, 2020: Francis Ford Coppola issued a statement clarifying previous reports that he instructed actors on Dracula to verbally abuse Winona Ryder. Coppola explained that he had asked Gary Oldman — while in character — to say "horrific and evil" things to Ryder and other characters during filming.
"While I think Winona is a wonderful actor, the incident she described is not how it happened, and shouting or abusing people isn’t something I do as a person or as a filmmaker," the director told People via a statement. "In this situation, which I remember clearly, I instructed Gary Oldman — in character as Dracula — to whisper improvised words to her and the other characters, making them as horrific and evil as he could. I don't know what was said, but improvisation is a common filmmaking practice."
A representative for Ryder also issued a statement, which read, "Winona and Francis are in agreement and his recollection is correct. He asked the actors, in character, to say horrible things to her as a technique to help her cry for the scene. Although that technique didn't work for her, she loves and respects him and considers it a great privilege to have worked with him."
In an interview with the Sunday Times, the actress discussed shooting a scene for the 1992 film, during which she was required to act in terror and shock. When director Francis Ford Coppola wanted her to be crying more, he began yelling "You whore!" to her off-camera, urging her male co-stars (including Reeves) to join him.
"But Keanu wouldn’t," Ryder said, adding that neither did her other co-stars, Anthony Hopkins and Richard E. Grant.
She went on to say that she and Coppola "are good now," and the experience seems to have solidified her friendship with Reeves, with whom she eventually worked on three other movies (2006's A Scanner Darkly, 2009's The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, and 2o18's Destination Wedding, which she admitted to the Sunday Times "got the worst reviews").
During the interview, conducted during lockdown from her L.A. home, Ryder told the reporter, "I love Keanu. We’re great friends. I miss him so much, and it’s hard because he’s not far, just over there," at which point, the interviewer noted, she "points wistfully out of the window."
Upon suggestion that she go for a socially distanced walk with him, Ryder replied, "That’s the hardest thing, I don’t know with this virus, can you just go over and …?" After being prompted by the interviewer, she apparently "brightened" and said, "I’m going to call Keanu!"
Was there ever a more important duo?