Winona Ryder Says Keanu Reeves Refused Direction to Verbally Abuse Her on Dracula Set

The actress claimed that director Francis Ford Coppola tried to "get all of them to yell things that would make me cry, but Keanu wouldn't"

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

Winona Ryder is recounting a time when pal Keanu Reeves defended her against an alleged hurtful request from director Francis Ford Coppola.

In a new interview with The Sunday Times, the actress, 48, recalled shooting a scene for the 1992 film Bram Stoker's Dracula, where she was required to act in terror and shock.

When Coppola wanted more tears from her, Ryder said the director began shouting insults — including "You whore!" — to try to make her emotional. He also called on her male costars to join in, according to Ryder.

"To put it in context I’m supposed to be crying,” Ryder said. “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 wouldn’t, Anthony wouldn’t. ... It just didn’t work."

She added: "I was, like, really? It kind of did the opposite."

The Stranger Things star said the shared experience led to her long-time kinship with Reeves, and that she and Coppola, now 81 — best known for the Godfather trilogy — are "good now."

Coppola later denied Ryder's version of events in a statement to PEOPLE.

“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. 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," the statement read.

Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder Dracula
Zoetrope/Columbia Tri-Star/Kobal/Shutterstock

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories

Since Dracula — which starred Oldman as the titular vampire and won three Academy Awards — Ryder and Reeves remained good friends. The pair even worked as costars again on A Scanner Darkly (2006), The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009) and Destination Wedding (2018).

Reeves, 55, previously gushed about Ryder to PEOPLE, calling her a "lovely person and a talented actress." He added, "I think we make a good couple."

Back in August 2018, Ryder joked that she may have technically tied the knot with the John Wick actor on set of Dracula. She explained that during production of the movie, Coppola "used a real Romanian priest" to preside over their characters’ nuptials, which they filmed from beginning to end.

RELATED VIDEO: Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves Reveal How They First Met — and More Secrets of Their 30-Year Friendship

"We actually got married in Dracula," she told Entertainment Weekly at the time. "No, I swear to God, I think we’re married in real life."

During an appearance on The Talk in January 2019, Reeves joked that Ryder has fully committed to their union, revealing that she occasionally refers to him playfully as "husband."

"Once in a while, I will get a text: 'Hello, husband,'" he said at the time. “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."

Related Articles