For Goths who came of age in the ‘90s, there’s an immediate appeal to seeing Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves on screen again in this month’s Destination Wedding. Atop both being two of the defining Gen-X stars of that earlier decade, Reeves and Ryder have starred together once before—in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Francis Ford Coppola’s fever dream was kind of like how we imagine a Victorian’s worst fear might appear. It came with vampires, werewolves, hypnotic seduction… and a wedding. A destination wedding, in fact.
During the midpoint of that movie, Winona Ryder’s Mina Murray flees the influence of Dracula to be reunited with her weakened but living fiancé Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves), and the two are soon married inside a Romanian Orthodox church. However, while promoting Destination
Wedding this weekend, Ryder brought back to attention—and apparently to Reeves’ surprise—that it was an actual wedding ceremony they conducted in Dracula in the Greek Orthodox style. So, technically speaking, she and Reeves are really married, at least in a spiritual sense if not a legal one.
“We actually got married in Dracula,” Ryder recently told Entertainment Weekly. “No, I swear to God I think we’re married in real life…. In that scene, Francis used a real Romanian priest. We shot the master and he did the whole thing. So I think we’re married.”
EW reported at first Reeves smiled it off, deadpanning, “It’s lovely to see you again.” But when Ryder reminded him that they each said “I do” on a Valentine’s Day shoot in 1992, Reeves conceded, “Oh my gosh we’re married.”
This is obviously a cute story to tell in relation to their new romantic comedy, Destination Wedding, in which Reeves and Ryder play two loners of a certain age invited to a mutual friend’s wedding and forced to sit together. Hijinks ensue. However, in addition to celebrating that Aug. 31 release, it confirms a story Coppola himself has told for years. Indeed, The Godfather director can back up what Ryder said while discussing the scene in the 20th edition DVD release of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
The filmmaker, who personally considers Greek Orthodox Christianity, which is also practiced in Romania, to be more beautiful and truer to the original rites of Christianity than the Roman Catholicism which he grew up with—something he described as “oppressive and mean” and having more to do with the Roman Empire than Christianity—felt compelled to film a real wedding ceremony between Ryder and Reeves after principal photography had concluded.
“We didn’t have the scene on the first shoot,” Coppola recalled on the commentary. “I think we did it with one of those stylized ways where you didn’t really have anything but some shadows on the wall. And looking at the film, I decided having the real wedding ceremony as it might be in that religion would be beautiful.” So he filmed the whole ceremony at a Greek Orthodox church in Los Angeles. “This is pretty authentic and I think very beautiful, because we actually did the ceremony and had the priest do the ceremony. So in a sense, when we were all done, we realized that Keanu and Winona really are married as a result of this scene and this ceremony.”
Many happy returns for the reunited couple. Their next matrimonial rendezvous Destination Wedding, opens on Aug. 31.
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