Disney’s new Haunted Mansion movie was full of easter eggs and references to the classic Disneyland attraction. However, that was far from the only that the movie added a little something special to the horror-comedy. In addition to the major stars in the Haunted Mansion cast, the film also included an excellent cameo from the star of another iconic horror-comedy, Beetlejuice’s Winona Ryder.
It’s a bit surprising when you’re midway through Haunted Mansion and suddenly Winona Ryder is on the screen with no warning. And yet, she sort of fits perfectly. Her role isn’t particularly spooky, but it is hilarious. Director Justin Simian told THR Ryder was somebody he wanted in the movie from early on, and he was able to make the schedule work, though he jokes he had to trick her into telling her she was filming a sequel to Beetlejuice. Simian said…
(Laughs.) We kidnapped her. We told her that she was shooting Beetlejuice 2, and she just went with it for a while until she caught on. No, she was someone that we wanted from the outset. Carmen Cuba, the casting director, myself, and the studio were really enamored with this idea of plugging in classic faces in these cameo roles, and it just felt so right that she’d be the tour guide at the end of the movie. She was just so delightfully weird and funny in her performance, and it was a super magical time having her on this project. We were shooting for quite a while, so she had time to rest up and regroup [from Stranger Things 4] and then join us.
The Netflix series and Haunted Mansion were both shooting in Atlanta around the same time, with the Stranger Things Season 4 Volume 2 ending production just before Haunted Mansion started its shoot there, giving Winona Ryder a bit of time to rest before taking on her role.
She appears in one of the few scenes in Haunted Mansion that takes place outside the titular house. Owen Wilson and Lakeith Stanfield’s characters make a trip to an old manor, which has been converted into a B&B and museum, looking for something that will help them with their own ghost problem. Ryder appears as Pat, one of the owners of the establishment, who is giving the guests a tour of the house. She and Stanfield have several hilarious interactions as he keeps asking if any of the display items are actually historical, and she responds that they are all reproductions, while trying to figure out just what this weirdo is up to.
While actual Beetlejuice 2 details are slim, the long-rumored sequel is actually in development and Winona Ryder is set to reprise her role as Lydia. The film was shooting, but now that writers and actors are both on strike it’s unclear what its status is. The movie was set to release next year but if filming was not completed before the strike, it may be delayed.