Winona Ryder & Keanu Reeves
by Rob Chilton
Sci-fi thriller A Scanner Darkly stars Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves. Here, they talk about becoming animated, love scenes and Big Brother.
Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves agreed to appear in the thought-provoking new science-fiction movie A Scanner Darkly for greatly reduced fees because they loved the story so much. Written and directed by hot indie moviemaker Richard Linklater and set in the future, the movie deals with paranoia and the ever-growing surveillance in our society. The movie is based on the book by Philip K. Dick, whose writings inspired the classic Harrison Ford movie Blade Runner. A Scanner Darkly is shot in the captivating semi-animated style seen previously in Linklater's film Waking Life. Starring alongside Winona and Keanu, whose characters fall in love in the movie, are Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson.
Why did the two of you take these roles for substantially less money?
Keanu: Great story. Great role. Important story. This way we could get it done.
Winona: Keanu and Richard [Linklater]. I feel really lucky. Usually the movies that you do for a lot less money are the ones you enjoy more. I didn't give it a second thought.
Winona, were you pleased to be able to work with Richard Linklater?
I feel so lucky that I got the part because I was such a huge fan. I was completely drawn to it, and I was just lucky that he picked me.
Winona, what did you make of your character?
I saw her in a very hard position, starting to really care about someone. She is sort of stuck and not allowing herself to let go and follow her heart. It's complicated. I'm trying not to give anything away [laughs].
The book deals with Big Brother-esque ideas of surveillance. Do you think this is a good or bad thing about our world?
Winona: Bad. I think it is dehumanizing watching people like that. They become less human, they become little things walking. For me, it's pretty scary. I know there are some cameras on certain areas on the street of England and the crime rate did go down because of that. Computers nowadays too -- that's crazy.
Because of all the data they collect?
Keanu: It's also being used and abused. That is the sinister aspect of it.
Winona: A lot of what you read in the papers just isn't true. They say, "Well, we are doing this because this is what will help us catch this person." Like it's an okay thing to do.
Keanu: It's misinformation.
Winona, how was it working with Keanu? Did you play your role like you were in love with Keanu?
Oh, I am! [laughs] He knows it, I tell him all the time.
Keanu: Aw, shucks! [laughs]
Was it frustrating not to have a real love scene?
Winona: I was frustrated because we didn't get to make out!
Keanu, you've done a number of sci-fi films. What is it about the genre that you like?
I guess it's the questioning in them. I find these films and the genre itself is about questioning: where we are, where will we be, what's going on, who are we.
Winona: I never saw this as a sci-fi movie. Weird! I just see it as an incredible story. Very heartbreaking, very emotional. I see how it can be seen as sci-fi, but I think it's heartbreaking.
What did you think when you saw yourself animated in the movie?
Keanu: I thought it was really well done, and in terms of the representations of the performances, I think it was very successful.
Winona: That was pretty cool. It's great to say I was animated!
What were the most challenging scenes for you, Keanu?
The part that was challenging was also what was interesting. [I'd ask the director] "Richard, am I doing enough? What do I do here?" Sometimes I just didn't know how to. That was really cool.
Keanu, did you use your personal experiences to get into character?
Yes. My job is to try and personalize. For this particular role, I used the novel as a template for what I was doing.
There's a great scene on the couch where there was intimacy, but it was almost suppressed. Why do you think people are so afraid of intimacy?
Winona: If you get it, and then it gets taken away -- it kills you. Sometimes you can never really recover from that.
Keanu: It was deliciously painful. All that yearning in love, that was unrequited. It's part of the tragedy -- it's part of the great things about this work, that this is a comedy and a tragedy.
Was Richard Linklater open to you guys trying out things in front of the camera?
Keanu: Well, there were riffs, but they were articulated, calculated riffs.
Winona: [Richard] made me feel like I could try anything. I probably drove him nuts, but it was so exciting to have such a great story and a great group of people.
Keanu do you read your reviews? You've gotten great ones with The Lake House recently.
I don't read reviews usually. That's nice to hear, though. If I did a play on Broadway, I'd probably wake up early and get a cup of joe [and read the review].
Do you know what you are doing next?
Winona: I just came from work actually. I'm doing a movie called Sex and Death 101. It's from the person who wrote Heathers. We will be doing a sequel to Heathers next. This is something different. It's very twisted. I'm Death in this film -- literally!