Francis Ford Coppola and Winona Ryder clarify account of verbal abuse on Dracula set
During a recent interview with the Sunday Times, Ryder addressed a rumor from her time shooting the 1992 film. During a dramatic scene in which she was supposed to be crying, Ryder said, Coppola directed the male actors on set to call out insults from off camera.
Coppola, however, has now said that wasn't what happened. "While I think Winona is a wonderful actor, the incident she described is not how it happened, and shouting or abusing people isn't something I do as a person or as a filmmaker," he said in a statement provided to EW. "In this situation, which I remember clearly, I instructed Gary Oldman — in character as Dracula — to whisper improvised words to her and the other characters, making them as horrific and evil as he could. I don't know what was said, but improvisation is a common filmmaking practice."
In turn, Ryder corroborated Coppola's version of events. "Winona and Francis are in agreement and his recollection is correct," a spokesperson for the actress said in a statement to EW. "He asked the actors in character to say horrible things to Winona as a technique to help her cry for the scene. Although that technique didn't work for her, she loves and respects him and considers it a great privilege to have worked with him."
Ryder had told the Times, "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 [Reeves] wouldn't, Anthony wouldn't… the more it happened, I was like… It just didn't work. I was, like, really? It kind of did the opposite. Ryder had also said she and Coppola are "good now."
The story, reflecting the long friendship between Ryder and her costar Reeves, quickly made headlines. It's not surprising given that he set of Dracula has been a hotbed for Hollywood stories. It's also the root of Ryder's previous assertion to EW that she and Reeves were accidentally married for real by the Romanian priest in the movie's wedding scene.
Now that story Coppola has confirmed — at least according to Reeves. "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," he said while appearing on The Talk in 2019.