09 May 2008Webmiss
From the time she was a child, Christina Ricci has proven there is absolutely no role she canï¿½t tackle. From her young roles in The Addams Family movies, and Casper to her more mature ones in The Opposite of Sex, Pumpkin, Monster, Black Snake Moan, Penelope, and scores of others, she has proven time and time again, with merely a fraction of the kind of the fanfare given to young starlets like Lindsay Lohan, that youth and talent are not always a potentially deadly mix.
Now, at the age of 28, Christina has returned to once again exceed expectations with her most unlikely role yet. Itï¿½s as girlfriend Trixie in The Wachowski Brothersï¿½ long-awaited film adaptation of the classic late 1960ï¿½s Japanese TV anime Speed Racer.
Being her most high-profile project in years, Ricci made absolutely no bones about the immense benefits that came with working on a big-budget special effects extravaganza helmed by one of the film worldï¿½s most extraordinary filmmakers.
ï¿½It was the fact that I really, really would have liked to do the job and also, Iï¿½m a huge fan of The Wachowski Brothers,ï¿½ she replies, ï¿½I loved The Matrix.ï¿½
However, she claims that despite her immense critical acclaim, Christinaï¿½s initially social awkwardness during her tryout almost caused her chances for the role to be passed up.
ï¿½I was very nervous,ï¿½ Ricci recalls, ï¿½I didnï¿½t talk much during my audition. They said they were worried about hiring me because I didnï¿½t talk much. I was like, ï¿½I was nervous, people. Come on.ï¿½ï¿½
Ricci also notes she made another potentially embarrassing misstep when she was ignorant of the fact that the role required her to learn martial arts.
ï¿½I had to do some kung fu,ï¿½ she says, ï¿½I didnï¿½t know I had to. And a lot of the script was action sequences, just pages of describing the races and action sequences and I didnï¿½t read those pages because it was a little dense. And I had to audition in 24 hours.ï¿½
ï¿½So when I got to set, the stunt coordinator came to see me and I was like, ï¿½So youï¿½re going to do some kung fu.ï¿½ï¿½ Christina adds, ï¿½And I was like, ï¿½What? Really? I fight in this?ï¿½ And he was like, ï¿½Yes, we fight in this.ï¿½ And I was like, ï¿½Oh, right, of course! I totally forgot about that.ï¿½ï¿½
However, once she started, the actress soon enjoyed learning martial arts for the film.
ï¿½So when they started, I had a couple of training sessions and it was really fun,ï¿½ Ricci says, ï¿½The stunt guys were awesome and really fun to deal with and work with and I had a really good time. I love that kind of thing, so it was great. I tend to be very competitive and athletic, so itï¿½s awesome.ï¿½
A highly unique aspect of Speed Racer, the actress claims, was how much of the scenes involved acting behind green screen. Ricci notes that The Wachowskisï¿½ confidence as filmmakers enabled her to eliminate any self-doubt in filming under such a process.
ï¿½They explained as much as they could,ï¿½ Christina says, ï¿½You were certainly willing and able to go and find out as much as you wanted to or you could know as little as you wanted to. I think that thereï¿½s no real way of knowing exactly what itï¿½s going to be like because itï¿½s very much in their heads. Larry and Andy, itï¿½s their personality, itï¿½s their ideas and vision thatï¿½s stamped all over the movie. But the thing is with directors like them, is that you get such a great feeling of the fact that they know exactly what they are going to be doing.ï¿½
ï¿½They have this world worked out completely,ï¿½ she continues, ï¿½You could ask any minute question about minutia in the world and theyï¿½d know, of course, theyï¿½d answer. So when people are like that, it tends to inspire a lot of confidence and a lot of trust. And also, this idea like if I argue with them, I have no ground to stand on, because I have no idea whatï¿½s in their heads, so itï¿½s not like you can say ï¿½I donï¿½t think this would go with whatï¿½s happening in the background, because you donï¿½t know what the hell is happening in the background.ï¿½ So youï¿½re really in a place where Iï¿½m going to do what they tell me and if I donï¿½t do what they tell me, I probably will not fit with the rest of the film.ï¿½
We asked Ricci whether working in a more action-driven environment made acting easier or harder for her.
ï¿½The spectacle is not there when weï¿½re acting,ï¿½ she replies, ï¿½Weï¿½re just acting and then, they put in the spectacle later, so it doesnï¿½t really change your acting. Itï¿½s not there to get in the way. If it was, then maybe youï¿½d get a little overwhelmed, I donï¿½t know.ï¿½
ï¿½It really wasnï¿½t something we had to put too much thought to,ï¿½ Christina continues, ï¿½These directors are so detail-oriented, they production design everything right down to the performance that it takes a huge amount of pressure off of you because youï¿½re going to do exactly what they tell you to. Because they take so much pressure off of you, youï¿½re then able to really play and theyï¿½ll tell you if itï¿½s right or wrong. Itï¿½s much easier.ï¿½
She says the hardest experience for her on the film came up not with an action sequence, but through a rather bizarre incident with the real-life chimpanzee who plays the family pet Chim-Chim.
ï¿½The chimp jumped over and grabbed my left breast and hung off of me in the middle of the first take I was in the first day of shooting,ï¿½ Ricci recalls, ï¿½And they all turned around towards the door, so they did not get the chimp any crazier and tried to stay cool. I just sort of said, (in soft voice) ï¿½Help! Help! Ow! Ow!ï¿½ And John [Goodman] thought that was hilariously funny and proceeded to imitate me for the rest of the film, which I can appreciate.ï¿½
Notably, child actress Ariel Winter, who plays Trixieï¿½s younger self in the film, is eerily reminiscent of Christina back in her child star days, which is not lost on the former child star.
ï¿½Thatï¿½s always a weird thing, because Iï¿½m like, ï¿½Well, but people already know what I looked like when I was nine.ï¿½ You know what I mean?ï¿½ Ricci remarks, ï¿½Sometimes, people will choose people who really donï¿½t look like I did. And Iï¿½m sort of like, ï¿½Uh, OK.ï¿½ You know thereï¿½s footage out there of me, alright? But in this case, they chose a girl whose like, ï¿½Yeah, she pretty much looks like me.ï¿½ She looks like Trixie.ï¿½
Christinaï¿½s character of Trixie is a mystery in itself and how she fits in so easily with the racing world around Speed Racer. We attempted to ask the actress if she could figure out for us how Trixie fits into the scheme of things and whether she made any attempts to as well.
ï¿½Use your imagination. Do you need everything handed to you?ï¿½ Ricci quips, ï¿½I donï¿½t need more. They wrote this character and she made sense to me and this is her car culture and you got to think that he raced a lot of rallies in his young racing life and sheï¿½s part of the team and thatï¿½s what she does. Thatï¿½s what the whole familyï¿½s like.ï¿½
Another unique aspect of Trixie is how more stylish and overtly feminine she is from Christinaï¿½s previous roles. We asked her whether she embraced this aspect of her.
ï¿½Oh, yes, I did,ï¿½ she exclaimed, ï¿½I was the only girl in it, so I was like their doll. They dressed me up and they sent me out there to do things. Itï¿½s fun. When somebodyï¿½s using you as their dress-up doll, thereï¿½s something about that thatï¿½s incredibly endearing.ï¿½
ï¿½Itï¿½s interesting,ï¿½ Ricci continues, ï¿½I thought I had very doll-like makeup. I really enjoyed my helicopter outfit. I really liked my Loverï¿½s Lane outfit a lot, too, that was pretty fun.ï¿½
Trixieï¿½s vehicle of choice in the film is a helicopter. We asked the actress whether she actually drove one in the film.
ï¿½No,ï¿½ Christina replies, ï¿½But they did teach me what it would look like if I had to drive a helicopter, which was really fun, because you get to lean in and do turns and use your whole body. It was pretty funny.ï¿½
The rather serendipitous aspect for Ricci in playing an anime heroine character is the rather unusual position of being made into both a doll and an action figure. When we brought up this face, we asked which of the two toys with her likeness she likes more.
ï¿½Iï¿½d love to have an action figure, but Iï¿½m perfectly happy with a Barbie,ï¿½ she replies.
Finally, as we closed, we asked Christina to admit whether she was one of the handful who often abused their Barbies as little girls.
ï¿½Yes, I did,ï¿½ Ricci says, ï¿½Me and my sister gave them Mohawks and my brother set them on fire. I know, I know, itï¿½s a shame.ï¿½
From The Cinema Source