Francis Ford Coppola denies asking 'Dracula' actors to insult Winona Ryder

Gregory Wakeman
Francis Ford Coppola denies Winona Ryder's Dracula claims (Image by Columbia Pictures)

Francis Ford Coppola has denied Winona Ryder’s claims that he asked various actors on the set of Dracula to hurl insults at the young actress in order to make her cry.

Ryder made these claims during a recent interview with the Sunday Times, recalling that Coppola called her a “whore” during filming.

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““I’m supposed to be crying,” she added. “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. I was, like, really? It kind of did the opposite.”

Coppola responded to Ryder’s comments through a statement to People, which read, “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.”

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 03: Francis Ford Coppola presents the Hollywood Supporting Actor Award onstage during the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 03, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for HFA)

“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.”

Far from being outraged by Coppola’s denial, Ryder decided to release her own statement, which actually saw her agreeing with the director. However, she suggests that Coppola wanted the improvisation from her co-stars to be much more intense. 

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"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."