Winona Ryder is sitting in a grungy Harlem motel dissecting the finer points of getting it on with a puppet. Don’t alert the religious right. The 34-year-old actress is just on break from filming The Ten, an upcoming movie from alt-comedy maestro David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer) that uses the Ten Commandments as the source material for a series of satirical shorts costarring the likes of Jessica Alba, Paul Rudd, and Famke Janssen. (There’s no release date yet.) The indie icon interrupted her dinner for a rare chat with EW (”You should feel lucky,” she laughs) on subjects ranging from her offbeat new movie to worries about her legacy to the upcoming Heathers sequel.
EW How did you end up in The Ten?
WR I actually replaced Amy Poehler. I can’t remember how I got the script, but I got David [Wain’s] number and called him. You know, it’s not a script that I think a lot of agents would offer, and those are always the scripts that I always want.
EW You mean your people don’t give you the material you want to do?
WR Yeah, they literally don’t pass [those scripts] to me, I have to get them myself. I tend to be drawn to things that some agents might try and dissuade me from doing.
EW This is your first comedy in a while, right?
WR The first funny one! The movie is obviously satirical and dirty, but it’s not mean. It actually does teach the Ten Commandments…just in a very ridiculous, funny way. I’m in a few segments. In one, I fall in love with a reporter, we go on our honeymoon, and go to a ventriloquist show. [That’s where] I fall in love with the dummy and we run away together. Yesterday I was humping the dummy. That vignette is for ”Thou Shalt Not Steal,” which is great. [Laughs] I was keeping my fingers crossed for that one!
EW The producer said that wasn’t an intentional reference.
WR Really! I didn’t know, I figured it was.
EW Why haven’t you done a big Hollywood movie in years?
WR I hate it when actors talk about independent films when the truth is that they can’t get studio jobs. [Laughs] So, I’ll make it clear, it’s a choice. I’ve been getting offers, but I’d rather not work, frankly, than do something that isn’t great. Once I made that decision things got so much easier for me. That’s why I didn’t have an agent for a long time, because I didn’t want to have to do some movie that I was getting offered a lot of money for.
EW Are you happy with that decision?
WR Yeah, but it’s scary. You go away for a while and they move on, but you can’t base your happiness on the business. This is my 20th year making movies, and everyone has their ups and downs. Nothing is worse than the feeling of going into a video store and having to hide your movies.
EW Do you turn them over?
WR Oh, yeah.
EW Which ones?
WR Ummmm… [Shakes head] Uhh-uhh. We’re living in a time when we can be rented and rewound and that’s forever! To compromise and do something for the money, that’s gonna go down in history. What if some guy in Sweden thinks he knows me, but the only thing they have there is [2000’s horror flick] Lost Souls?