Christina Ricci became a movie star at the age of eleven, when she starred in The Addams Family, a big-screen adaptation of a campy classic TV show. Seventeen years later, the now 28-year-old Ricci stars in this weekend’s new release, Speed Racer, a big-screen adaptation of a campy classic cartoon show.

As Ricci returns to the original formula of her success, let’s examine the five reasons she’s been able to hold on to it:

1. She’s a child star done good.
So many child stars are forced into early retirement by the time they’re old enough to drive. Jimmy Workman, who played Ricci’s brother in The Addams Family, is a perfect example of a kid who didn’t get the chance to finish growing up on screen. It takes a shrewd, talented, prematurely mature young person to prove she can grow as an actress while she’s still growing as a person. Ricci accomplished this, and unlike the Macauly Culkins of the world, she did so without turning to drugs or wild behavior in her adolescence to make up for her lost childhood. You have to respect those Hollywood survival skills.

2. She didn’t turn into Rosie O’Donnell.
In the 1995 chick flick Now and Then, Ricci starred along with Thora Birch, Gaby Hoffmann, and Ashleigh Aston Moore as the preteen incarnations of four reunited childhood friends. This movie led us to believe that Birch would grow up to become Melanie Griffith (that didn’t happen); Hoffmann would become Demi Moore (ironically, Hoffmann would be a more age-appropriate match for Demi’s current husband, Ashton Kutcher); Aston Moore would become Rita Wilson (Aston Moore hasn’t been seen since Now and Then, so for all we know, this could be accurate) and Ricci would turn out just like Rosie O’Donnell. WHAAT? Luckily, that didn’t happen.

Now and Then was one of the last kiddie roles Ricci took on. Just two years later, she shed her child star image in Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm. The following year, she cemented her status as reigning teen-indie queen of the ’90s in The Opposite of Sex. Today, to the relief of everyone who sat in a theater in ’95 and thought, “No, that won’t happen to her!” she’s as uniquely lovely as ever. She’s also the only Now and Then actress still working steadily, in either age group.

3. She’s a very special guest star.
In addition to her film career, Ricci’s given two memorable guest performances on two major television shows. In 2006, she began a two-episode arc in the post-Superbowl Grey’s Anatomy episode, “It’s the End of the World,” as a frightened EMT whose finger is the only thing keeping a bomb from exploding out of a patient’s chest. Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t get better than this episode, and Ricci was terrific as the freaked-out EMT. But my favorite Ricci performance of all time was a voice stint she did on The Simpsons in the 1996 episode, “Summer of 4 Ft. 2,” as lonely Lisa’s first real friend. It would take someone as cool as Ricci to appreciate nerdy, needy Lisa Simpson. I dare anyone not to shed a tear when the Simpson family station wagon, temporarily covered in seashells, leaves their summer home, and Lisa’s new friend behind.

4. She’s been in three movies with Johnny Depp that weren’t about pirates.
Ricci shared the screen with Depp in Sleepy Hollow, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and The Man Who Cried, and reportedly considers him a friend. He’s also a perfect role model for Ricci, who has emulated his style of making room for edgy indies, epic blockbusters, and kid-friendly fairy tales in her career.

5. She’s the good kind of famous.
We’ve been following Christina Ricci’s career for seventeen years now, and during that time we’ve never seen her flash any body parts while getting out of a limo, go to rehab, or serve a ridiculously short prison sentence for a DUI. Despite all her years of on-camera experience, she knows how to keep her private life off-camera, and that surely has something to do with why we’ve never gotten sick of her. As long as she keeps it up, we’ll still be interested in her thirty years from now, when she’ll probably have a role in a big screen adaptation of the campy classic TV show Desperate Housewives.