Mary Elizabeth Winstead on ‘Labyrinth’

Aug 02, 2010 Photography by Dan Park (illustration by) Issue #32 - Summer 2010 - Wasted on the Youth
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I definitely look back on my childhood fondly even though I was an extremely busy kid. Growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, I went to a magnet school that was out away from the neighborhood that I lived in, so when I was at home I really didn't have any friends in my neighborhood. I wasn't out riding my bike and all that stuff. I was a bit of a performing arts geek and was always onstage, so I've kind of always been working in some aspect from a young age.

I wanted to be a ballerina and I trained for hours and hours every day after school and my hair was constantly in a bun. If I was doing some sort of performance I would have to go to school with curlers in my hair and stage makeup, so I was sort of that kid. Whatever that kid is, that was me.

Still, being the youngest of five I was exposed to all sorts of pop culture things. TV was on a lot in my house. Movies were also in constant rotation. We'd tape everything off the TV on a VHS so we'd be able to watch it again whenever we wanted. But one movie that sticks out to me is Labyrinth. I watched that probably every day for several years. It's one of those obsessions that carried over into adulthood. I'm still a little bit obsessive. I have two dogs and they're actually named after characters from the movie: Ambrosius and Didymus [after the chivalrous fox Sir Didymus and his shaggy dog steed]. I love, love Labyrinth. I'm a fan of practical effects. I feel like a bit of a codger when it comes to CGI. I miss the days when you could, given the chance, touch and feel the characters and there was texture and life. I definitely appreciate that a lot. There's something to CGI and animation—it's really amazing how far they've come with it—but at the same time I would kind of rather see something that looks kind of silly and looks like it was handmade, like you could actually touch it. That's just me.

At the time I didn't know who David Bowie was. I knew him as the guy in the tight tights and the long hair. I had no clue until I was older, and then of course I got into my own David Bowie obsession, listening to his music and stuff. Still when I first saw Labyrinth I had no idea who he was.

I loved anything that had a kind of dark quality to it; anything that on some level creeped me out. For some reason that was just more enthralling to me than anything else. Now everyone's afraid to make children's movies that are dark in any way, but that's what I loved the most. I still love horror films and scary films, and anything that's sort of dark and creepy I definitely have an affinity for. As a kid those were the images I couldn't get out of my head, but in a good way. Not that it scared me, but that it just fascinated me.

(Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an actress who has starred in such films as Grindhouse/Death Proof and Live Free or Die Hard, is currently starring as Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and in 2011 will be seen in the prequel to The Thing. Read more here: www.undertheradarmag.com/interviews/maryelizabethwinstead)

(As told to Mike Hilleary. Portions of Mary Elizabeth Winstead's conversation have been abridged and edited for structure and flow.)



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