Francis Ford Coppola and Winona Ryder Agree He Didn't Direct Keanu Reeves to Verbally Abuse Her

Francis Ford Coppola is sharing his perspective into the filming of Bram Stoker's Dracula with Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves

Francis Ford Coppola, Winona Ryder
Francis Ford Coppola and Winona Ryder. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty;

Francis Ford Coppola has denied the claim that he instructed Winona Ryder’s male costars to shout insults at her during the filming of Bram Stoker's Dracula.

During an interview with The Sunday Times, which was published earlier this week, the actress, 48, recalled shooting a scene for the 1992 film where she was “supposed to be crying.” She claimed that in order to make her cry more, Coppola, 81, called on her male costars to insult her.

“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,” the director told PEOPLE in a statement.

“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,” Coppola said.

A rep for Ryder tells PEOPLE in a statement, "Winona and Francis are in agreement and his recollection is correct. He asked the actors, in character, to say horrible things to her 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."

Oldman's rep did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

While recounting the experience in The Sunday Times interview, the Stranger Things star said her costars refused the alleged direction.

“Literally, Richard E. Grant, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu [Reeves] … Francis was trying to get all of them to yell things that would make me cry, but Keanu wouldn’t, Anthony wouldn’t. ... It just didn’t work,” she said. "I was, like, really? It kind of did the opposite."

Ryder went on to say that she and the Godfather trilogy director are “good now.”

Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder Dracula
Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder in Dracula (1992). Snap/Shutterstock

In the interview, Ryder also said that the experience led to her lasting friendship with Reeves.

Besides staying close off-screen, the pair have gone on to work together again in 2006's A Scanner Darkly, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009) as well as the 2018 film Destination Wedding.

“Winona is a lovely person and a talented actress,” Reeves, 55, previously told PEOPLE. “I think we make a good couple.”

Updated by
Benjamin VanHoose

Benjamin VanHoose is an Associate Editor on the Movies team at PEOPLE. He's worked at PEOPLE for over three years as a writer and reporter across our Entertainment, Lifestyle and News teams, covering everything from the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial to the Oscars. He regularly covers red carpet events and has interviewed stars like Drew Barrymore, Ryan Reynolds and Kirsten Dunst. He previously worked as a copy editor at Topix Media Lab.

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