by CHRIS ROGERS
She dominates the search results for “Winona.” The local brewery named a beer after her, and she captured the imagination of generations with performances in everything from “Beetlejuice” to “Stranger Things.” Now, city officials say Winona Ryder will appear in a national commercial being filmed in Winona this week. A member of the production team said that if everything goes according to plan, it will be a Super Bowl ad.
Film crews are taping a national commercial for a technology startup company, and Winona Ryder will be in it, Winona Mayor Mark Peterson said. Winona City Manager Steve Sarvi also reported that Ryder would be in the commercial.
“I can’t deny. I can’t affirm,” Anne Healy of Anne Healy Locations said when asked about Ryder. Healy is working on the commercial for a production company. Representatives for the production company itself were not immediately available for comment.
On Tuesday, a group of onlookers craned their necks from behind a police car to catch a glimpse of the shoot. When a director yelled “action” and a diminutive woman resembling Ryder appeared in the front of the camera, the onlookers whispered, “It’s her!”
Here is what Healy can say about the ad: “It’s a Super Bowl commercial. It’s a website company, and they’re building a website about Winona.” The product the commercial is selling is called Page Builder, Healy stated.
Peterson is appearing in the ad as himself, the mayor — one of several locals cast. Streets were closed off downtown yesterday as crews filmed. Winonans reported seeing the film crews at several spots around town. “We’re using the Methodist Church for the church hall; we’re going to stage a craft fair. We’re using a road by the equestrian center,” Healy said, rattling off various locations.
Why did the company pick Winona for this commercial? “I think they just loved the architecture and the town because every single building in town is just gorgeous,” Healy stated. “They liked the snow, they like the cliffs. Oh, we shot at a houseboat this morning, so they like the Mississippi River.” If Minnesota had better incentives for filmmakers, tons of movies would be made here, she added.
Beyond that, the details of the commercial have been hush-hush. Local residents involved in the ad said they had to sign non-disclosure agreements promising not to talk about it. City officials worked with the production company to permit the filming, but did not publicly discuss the news until Monday and have remained mum about details.
“I think it’s exciting,” Peterson said. He added, “I think anytime Winona can get on national television is a good thing — for the right reasons anyway.”