Who's Keanu Kissing Now?
Who's that nibbling Winona Ryder's neck? Is it Johnny, is it Keanu, or is it a blood-thirsty Transylvanian vampire?
Stephanie Osfield gets her teeth into the amazing new movie, Dracula, and discovers how the legend all began.
In case you haven't noticed, vampires are cool and the head blood-sucker is about to hit our screens in a creepy new version of Dracula. With its cast of celebs and spine-chilling storyline, this $4 million blockbuster is set to make garlic the latest fashion accessory. It stars Winona and Keanu and it's directed by Francis Ford Coppola (who directed all The Godfather films) which means it's bound to be mega. So don't let Dracula catch you unprepared brush up on your Drac facts, and keep a wooden stake handy.
How It All Began
In 1897, Bram Stoker wrote a novel called Dracula. It was based on lots of blood-sucking superstitions and a real person called Vlad The Impaler, who was a king in Transylvania (now known as Romania). When Bram Stoker's Dracula was published, it did for vampires what crotch-grabbing did for Madonna, and put them well and truly on the map. So it's no surprise the latest film version is based on that first novel. Like the book, the latest Dracula movie is heavy on the stuffy costumes and foggy atmosphere. It tells the story of a vampire who thinks he has rediscovered the girl he loved four centuries ago. When he decides he can't live without her, he sharpens his teeth and travels all the way from Transylvania to London. But a few complications get in the way of romance. For one thing, she's already got a guy (and who in their right mind would give up Keanu for a dude with pointy teeth and an attitude problem?) and, once she discovers his love-bites are more than a nibble, she's not so hot on being his eternal girl.
Keanu Reeves Plays Dracula's Enemy
Almost 11 years after he decided he wanted to be an actor, Keanu's living in the big time. But unlike most other Hollywood hunks, he hasn't tried to develop a reputation as a sexy bad boy. Keanu's not afraid of puckering up for on screen kisses with the likes of River Phoenix and he doesn't mind playing characters who aren't big on cool.
In Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure, Keanu won himself a cult following and showed he had a talent for comedy.
"Bill and Ted aren't going to be lawyers or politicians, but look at the world they're in. So they say 'Let's play some music and do what we want.' They're the perfect example of best friends who totally understand each other - they're cool." Despite the success of this excellent film and it's sequel, Bill And Ted's Bogus Journey, Keanu's been careful not to become typecast. He's done heaps of small roles in films like Dangerous Liaisons and Parenthood. And, in more recent films like Point Break and My Own Private Idaho, he plays everything from undercover cop-turned-surfie to male prostitute. So, who would guess that in his spare time he likes nothing better than an in-depth chat?
"I love to learn. When I talk to intelligent people, I feel that I'm being taught. For me, that's the some kind of natural high that surfers get when they catch 'that' wave. I met these guys while I was filming Point Break and when they surf they're at one with the elements - it's very spiritual, they're out of their bodies and yet totally alive. I didn't grow up in a family that was very spiritual in any way but in the past few years I've started to believe in spirituality more and more."
When you consider the sorts of movies Keanu's name has recently been linked with, his spirituality could be all that keeps him in the land of the living. At the moment, he's considering a part as a schizophrenic maniac with 17 different personalities, in a flick called Crowded Room. And, in Dracula, he gets tangled up in a tale about blood-sucking insomniacs! As Winona's on screen husband, he assumes an English accent and romps around in period costume. But do he and Winona get down to some heavy-duty smooching, or does Keanu turn out to be another necknibbling fiend? We're not telling - you'll have to see the film to find out.
Winona Ryder Is Dracula's Love Interest
When it comes to offbeat movies, Winona will try her hand at anything weird and wonderful. At the tender age of 16, she went against everyone's advice to star in an unusual teen flick called Heathers. And her parents weren't the only ones advising her, not to take the part.
"Agents were on their knees telling me my career would be over if I made Heathers. But it's so simple. You do what makes you feel proud." As well as giving her the chance to hang out with Christian Slater, Heathers made Winona hot property and led to a stack of fantastic roles.
In Great Balls Of Fire, she played the teen bride and cousin of rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, and she followed it up with parts in Welcome Home Roxy Carmichael, Edward Scissorhands (opposite then fiancé Johnny Depp), Mermaids and Night On Earth.
"I'm lucky I've had the chance to do varying types of characters. Actresses my age usually have labels. I don't. I've never been put into any category, except maybe as someone who always plays weird, dark roles."
With a successful career and a guy most girls would kill for, Winona was the girl we all envied. But in 1990, when things were going really well, she realised the pitfalls of her perfect life. After flying to Italy to co-star in The Godfather, Part III, she checked into a hotel, crashed out and woke up later too exhausted to get out of bed. Doctors found she was suffering from over-exhaustion and there were also rumours that she was having problems with Johnny. So it was back home for lots of rest and a break from movies.
"I felt bad - I still feel really bad. I was so bogged down and so overworked, I couldn't tell what to do. But I learnt a big lesson. I won't make movies back to back. I won't get so worn out I can't function. I'm going to slow down a lot."
This year, Winona's been back on the big screen doing what she does best.
"I'm at that stage where most actresses really screw up. I need to find roles that are middle ground - not a kid, not a lawyer."
For some time, the 20-year-old actor has been after roles that are more grown up than her previous teen characters. And in her last few films she's been making that transition. In Night On Earth, she co-starred as a tomboy who passed up a film role for cab driving and, in Dracula, Winona scored the much-sought-after role of Dracula's love-interest. During the making of the film her romance with Johnny Depp hit the rocks, but she didn't sit around and mope. She broke out the garlic, sharpened her vampire-killing stakes and brushed up on her Drac attack skills. And by the time she started work on her next flick, Age Of Innocence, the rumours were flying about her affair with co-star, Daniel Day Lewis.
Behind The Scenes Of Dracula
Want to know all the inside goss? Here's what went down on set while Dracula was being filmed.
Keanu raged on. Rumour has it he partied so hard during filming that Brad Pitt was put on standby to replace him.
Dracula met Silence Of The Lambs: Winona took her answering machine onto the Dracula set and asked Anthony Hopkins to record a spine-chilling message In his Hannibal The Cannibal voice. Apparently the result was pretty freaky.
Keanu fell in love. Sofia Coppola had her first taste of the big screen when Winona dropped out of The Godfather, Part III and Sofia's dad, Francis Ford Coppola, cast her in the role of a Mafia daughter. But this time around, Sofia was hanging out behind the scenes of dad's latest film and that's where she met Keanu. By the time Dracula was finished the two were well and truly an item, although Keanu thought they didn't have much in common: "She's pretty shy, actually, and she's very mature and serious - not like me at all."
Winona sizzled. People can't stop talking about the scene where she kisses Dracula's bare chest!