Winona Ryder: ‘I credit Tim Burton for my career’

Friday, Sep 28, 2012

Winona Ryder has praised Tim Burton, going so far as to credit the director for her success.

From Tim Burton comes ‘Frankenweenie,‘ a heart-warming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life – with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous. A visually stunning black and white, stop motion animated film in 3D, the voice cast for ‘Frankenweenie’ includes Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell and Winona Ryder. Disney will release the film on October 5th in the US and October 17th in the UK. ‘Frankenweenie’ is the first animated film that Tim Burton has directed for Disney. The screenplay is by John August, based on an original idea by Tim Burton. My interview with Tim Burton for ‘Frankenweenie’ can be read here.

Speaking to Tim Burton, he said he really wanted to work with people he hadn’t worked with in a while on ‘Frankenweenie,’ people that he loved. You two in particular have a great background….

Winona Ryder: Yeah. I’ve known Tim Burton for 25 years, and I credit him with my career – I really mean that. I don’t know if….acting was sort of an accident for me, I wasn’t going on auditions and trying to be an actor. I was actually sort of discovered in San Francisco and I’d done only two movies, small parts, and I remember my parents were very picky (laughs) – because we had to drive from Northern California for ‘Beetlejuice,’ it was like 9 hours to get there, and I remember very well when I first met Tim. I was sitting, waiting to meet him and this guy came in and started talking, talking about movies and music and 25 minutes later I was like, “When is this Tim Burton guy coming?” And he was like, “That’s me!” And I was like, “OH….” (Laughs) I had no idea that a director could actually be so cool and I could easily hang out with them, you know?

What was the experience like re-teaming with him on ‘Frankenweenie,’ how was your relationship?

Winona Ryder: Tim has always been a very special person to me, I love being around him, it never feels like work – I know it’s work for a lot of people, and growing up in the movies, you realise how much work it is. But when you’re a kid you kind of don’t see all of those levels (laughs). He’s so special and I think our relationship, in a very strange way, it’s the same, which is wonderful, but then it’s also different – he’s made so many movies, he’s so prolific. But yet, it’s still the same, that love is still there, it’s the same Tim Burton from that wonderful day.

I can imagine it was special working on something so personal to him?

Winona Ryder: Definitely. I’m so grateful to be part of this movie ‘Frankenweenie,’ in particular, because it is so personal to him. ‘Frankenweenie,’ it’s really about him and his dog. It’s a special one, you know (laughs)? There’s movie that you do and you talk about them, but then there’s the ones that you REALLY love. And all of the three films I’ve made with Tim Burton, I really love, but this one I have to say, I just saw it and I was crying, I was losing it (laughs). I loved it. I would do anything for Tim, I would read the phonebook and I’m sure he would make it into a brilliant piece of art (laughs). I was incredibly touched and humbled that he asked me to be a part of such a personal project. That meant a lot to me.

Can you tell us about your character in ‘Frankenweenie,’ Elsa Van Helsing? How was it singing?

Winona Ryder: Sure. Elsa, she’s Victor’s neighbour and she goes to school with him. I think they do have a sort of connection, in a way they’re kind of kindred spirits. And the singing, that was great fun because I got to work with Danny Elfman personally. I remember on ‘Beetlejuice’ I visited him when he was scoring the movie with a giant orchestra, that was very exciting. I’m a huge fan of his, but to actually work with him directly, that was very very exciting. It was great too because the song….I’m singing it as a very nervous little girl, who actually doesn’t want to be doing it (laughs), she’s kind of being forced into it. So I didn’t have to belt out some amazing voice (laughs).

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