Winona Ryder opens up about ‘big challenge’ filming Beetlejuice sequel

Winona Ryder has opened up about the “big challenge” she faced revisiting her beloved Beetlejuice character Lydia Deetz for the upcoming sequel Beetlejuice Beetlejuice.

The new film reunites Ryder with director Tim Burton and Michael Keaton, who starred in the original 1988 horror comedy, along with new cast members including Jenna Ortega, Willem Dafoe, Monica Bellucci and Justin Theroux.

Speaking to Empire, Ryder, 52, said she struggles “to find the words” about how it feels to return to the character of Lydia after 36 years.

“It’s just one of the most special experiences that I’ve ever had,” said Ryder. “The fact that we’re coming back to it, it’s… It’s beyond. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt this way. This is a first for me. I’ve never revisited a character, ever.”

In the sequel, Lydia is the host of her own television series, Ghost House With Lydia Deetz, and has a daughter, Astrid, played by Wednesday star Ortega.

“I went through so many stages of, ‘Who is she now?’, but I always wanted to have it be Lydia. She can’t lose who she was,” explained Ryder. “She can’t be the same person, she can’t be just completely deadpan, she has to have evolved, but she also has to have kept that thing she had when we first met her. So that was the big challenge for me.”

Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz in ‘Beetlejuice Beetlejuice’ (Warner Bros/YouTube)
Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz in ‘Beetlejuice Beetlejuice’ (Warner Bros/YouTube)

The Stranger Things actor added she drew on her own life for inspiration. “My lived experience, even though it’s very different… You know, you grow up, and things change,” she said. “Life happens.”

Earlier this year, Burton revealed the much-anticipated sequel was inspired by his own journey “from cool teenager to lame adult.”

The Edward Scissorhands director, 65, told Entertainment Weekly that getting Keaton back into the iconic costume and makeup was “a weird out-of-body experience.”

“He just got back into it,” Burton said. “It was kind of scary for somebody who was maybe not that overly interested in doing it. It was such a beautiful thing for me to see all the cast, but he, sort of like demon possession, just went right back into it.”

Burton added he and Keaton had discussed a sequel for years, but that “unless it felt right, he had no burning desire to do it.”

Burton continued: “I think we all felt the same way. It only made sense if it had an emotional hook.”

He said they found that hook in Ortega’s character Astrid.

“I so identified with the Lydia character, but then you get to all these years later, and you take your own journey, going from cool teenager to lame adult, back and forth again,” explained Burton. “That made it emotional, gave it a foundation. So that was the thing that really truly got me into it.”

Last year, Burton told The Independent that working on the Beetlejuice sequel had reawakened his love for film-making.

“On this last one, Beetlejuice 2, I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I tried to strip everything and go back to the basics of working with good people and actors and puppets. It was kind of like going back to why I liked making movies.”