Winona Ryder

What do Brown Bunny, Eulogy, The Godfather: Part III, and Shopgirl have in common? These are all films that Winona Ryder (left, next on screen all animated-like in A Scanner Darkly, left) was either rumored to or was reported to have signed on to, but had to give up — for a variety of reasons: illness; a director’s second thoughts; and, oh yeah, that pesky shoplifting conviction.

After filming several projects back to back, Ryder backed out of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part III when she fell ill, paving the way for Sofia Coppola to take on the role of Mary Corleone. In the wake of Ryder’s shoplifting debacle, she had to pass on Eulogy with Ray Romano (not such a bad thing after all). Insurance snags allegedly prevented her and Robert Downey, Jr., from appearing in Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda (or at least we think it was that movie, since the Woodman is famously hush-hush about his impending projects and that’s the one that came next). She even initially told police her light-fingeredness was “research” for a role in Shopgirl, though it was never confirmed that she was even in the running for the role that eventually went to Claire Danes.) And, well, it turns out the director Vincent Gallo just changed his mind about her appearing in a supporting role in Brown Bunny (no, not that role).

Just six of you knew the answer. Congrats to Chris Berthelsen, Todd Dallas LaPlace, Vickie Martin, Linda Nong, James De Simas (a self-described “PopWatch addict” — awesome! — call me Pusherman), and Patrick Yearout. Your prize: a live, one-man performance of the “chainsaw” speech from Heathers by Yours Truly, Chief PopWatch Diet Cokehead. Email me for location and time. (No, not really… what, did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?)

A little guideline for future HeadScratchers: We at PopWatch HQ try hard to find an answer that is specific, simple, and straightforward. Therefore, while there might be other films, books, TV shows, actors, etc., that fit into the pattern, there aren’t many. If you’ve come up with an answer that could apply to any one of a number of films, it’s probably not the right one.

But don’t let that discourage you. You’ve done very well in the few short weeks we’ve run these HeadScratchers, and I sense you are getting smarter, which makes your daddy proud.

Stay tuned for a new HeadScratcher Friday afternoon. If you’d like to suggest a question to us (I know a lot of you want music questions — hello, Connie Chilton), feel free to email us. It’s all about sharing and caring here at PopWatch, and there are only so many hours in the day to come up with these things…