Filmmaking can be a nerve-wracking experience, and it doesn’t help when the director tries to use actual emotional trauma to get the right emotions out of their actors. Winona Ryder suffered such an experience on the set of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 horror-classic Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The actress revealed that it was her co-star Keanu Reeves along with Anthony Hopkins who refused to partake in her bullying at the behest of Coppola.
“To put it in context I’m supposed to be crying. Literally, Richard E. Grant, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu … Francis was trying to get all of them to yell things that would make me cry, but Keanu wouldn’t, Anthony wouldn’t. … It just didn’t work. I was, like, really? It kind of did the opposite.”
In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Winona Ryder played the role of Mina Harker, the soon-to-be-wife of Jonathan Harker, played by Keanu Reeves. The young couple’s dreams are shattered once Jonathan comes into contact with the villainous vampire Count Dracula, played by Gary Oldman, who comes to London to claim Mina. It falls to vampire hunter Arthur Van Helsing, played by Anthony Hopkins, to save Mina from the clutches of the evil Count.
Coppola had been riding high on the success of his Godfather movies when Ryder brought the script for Dracula to his attention. The actress has since said she believes Coppola was still sore with her at the time because her sudden withdrawal from filming her role in The Godfather Part Three led to heavy additional costs incurred by the production.
Perhaps some of that ill will carried over to the sets of Dracula when Coppola was directing Ryder, leading to him shouting insults at her including ‘You whore!” to make her emotional during scenes, and telling the other actors to also yell at her.
Whatever the reason behind Coppola’s behavior, which would not fly in today’s era, Keanu Reeves seems to have lived up to his reputation for being an all-round nice guy when he refused to yell at Ryder, and neither did Anthony Hopkins.
The actress goes on to say that she and Coppola are ‘Good now.’, so it seems she has made peace with the 81 year-old-filmmaker. As for Reeves, he and Ryder continue to be good friends.
In fact, Ryder revealed a few years ago that the wedding nuptials that took place between their characters Mina and Jonathan Harker on the sets of Bram Stoker’s Dracula was presided over by an actual Romanian priest, which means the two actors technically got married for real while filming the scene. Reeves has confirmed the story in past interviews.
“I didn’t really believe her, and then Francis Ford Coppola, the director of Dracula, contacted Winona and said publicly that, yeah, that really happened, the priest did a full ceremony, and Winona and I got married.”
Since then, Reeves says Ryder still sometimes sends him playful texts where she calls him her ‘husband’. No matter how unpleasant Coppola was to her during the filming of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Ryde at least seems to have benefitted from the experience in having found an enduring friendship in her relationship with Reeves. This news was first reported by the Sunday Times.