It seems like Winona Ryder has been around forever, but that’s because she’s grown up in the public eye. At the Venice Film Festival, on the red carpet for the premier of her latest film ‘The Iceman’ her ethereal beauty belied her 40 years, with a little help from Dolce&Gabbana.
She shot to stardom with Tim Burton’s ‘Beetlejuice’ way back in 1988 and became one of the 90s’ brat packers that could do no wrong with turns in cult hit ‘Heathers’ and ‘Reality Bites’ (Directorial debut of none other than Ben Stiller). She garnered both critical acclaim and box office success with films such as ‘The Age of Innocence’ and ‘The Crucible’.
However for a time, it seemed Winona wasn’t paying any attention to the quality productions she was appearing in and was just hovering up work as the traditional jobbing actor does, which resulted in more than her fair share of turkeys – ‘Autumn in New York’ and ‘Lost Souls’ (2000), ‘Mr. Deeds’ and ‘S1mOne’ before a certain shoplifting incident and subsequent humiliation of a very public trial forced her to take a hiatus from acting to take stock.
It was, it seems, exactly the right move as when she returned she was better than ever. Choosing her roles with seemingly more consideration, she hasn’t forgone her mass appeal or her indie flick credentials. ‘A Scanner Darkly’ (2006), based on the novel of family friend Phillip K. Dick, was her first foray into what has been described as an ‘astonishing comeback’, which included a Cameo in the latest ‘Star Trek’ film as Spock’s mother and Ron Howard’s ‘The Dilemma’, culminating in her triumphant portrayal of Beth McIntyre, an ageing ballet star in ‘The Black Swan’ and her re-emergence was complete.
Was a comeback ever in doubt? Hardly, you see the thing about Winona is she’s not only a Hollywood beauty, she’s an eminently talented actor as well. Her hails from American Jewish intelligencia. Her mother is an author, producer and editor while her father is an author, editor, producer an antiquarian bookseller. Her middle name Laura comes from family friend wife of Aldous Huxley, Laura Huxley and her godfather was LSD guru Timothy Leary. Other intellectual family friends include Beat Poets Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Her latest film ‘The Iceman’, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, is a film based on the true story of Mob hitman Richard Kuklinski who was arrested in 1986 and subsequently convicted of over 100 murders. It was a 2006 documentary when he told his story of how he lived a dual life of ruthless hitman while acting the perfect father in suburban paradise to his wife and two daughters that inspired Israeli Ariel Vromen to direct. Ryder plays his seemingly clueless wife who is completely unaware of his clandestine activities. The lead role is played by Michael Shannon while Ray Liotta returns to the gangster genre with a menacing portrayal of the Mafia boss who recognises Kuklinski’s potential.
While playing the role of the wife, Ryder used a script that contained none of the other scenes of the movie and had to stay away from the set on days when the other action was taking place. In researching the role she didn’t attempt to speak to the real life character Deborah Pellicotti who denies any knowledge of her husband’s activities and has since changed her name, saying “I just don't know that I would have learned that much from her.”
On her apparent lack of knowledge about the hitman's other life Winona has her doubts. "I don't think you can be married for that long and go to sleep every night with someone, especially when he is getting up in the middle of dinner and going out and killing ... she's doing laundry, there's got to be blood," she said.
Winona’s next projects are rumoured to be a much-anticipated reunion with Heathers co-star Christian Slater in a sequel and a reunion with Tim Burton. She stars alongside James Franco in ‘The letter’, which is already in the can and expected to be released later this year.