The IESB sat down with a group of journalists and talked with Christina Ricci about SPEED RACER and her role as loyal girlfriend TRIXIE!
Read the interview in its entirety below! SPEED RACER opens in theaters May 9th!
Q: Beautiful dress.
Christina Ricci: Thanks. It’s Yves Saint Laurent.
Q: How did you like Trixie’s fashion sense?
CR: I enjoyed it immensely. A lot of pink. Pink and red which is kind of awesome. I liked her clips and her makeup. It was really fun. It’s fun to play someone who’s a little bit cartoonish. They dressed me up like a doll, but then they let me go and fight people and race cars and fly a helicopter so it was fun.
Q: You’ve played a character that was a comic strip creation with ‘The Addams Family’. Did you have to think twice on this or were you really eager to work with the Wachowskis?
CR: No, I didn’t think twice. That didn’t even occur to me. That was so long ago. I was like ten years old. So, no. I was just really excited. I wanted to work with the Wachowskis and I’ve been hearing about ‘Speed Racer’ for the past ten years and people have said for a really long time that I should play Trixie and that I look like Trixie. So I thought, ‘Awesome. I’ll go in and read for this.’
Q: Did you see the resemblance when you finally saw the source material?
CR: Well, people have told me that I looked like anime for a long time and so after a while you’re like, ‘Okay, fine.’
Q: What does that mean?
CR: I have big eyes and a small chin, I would imagine. You don’t see it?
Q: I don’t watch a lot of anime.
CR: Me neither.
Q: Can you talk about what it is in a script that makes you want to do a film? Can you talk about that process?
CR: Well, I think it’s different with every movie. With this movie it was like, ‘Oh, wow. A “Speed Racer” movie. That’s exciting. It’s exciting that I’m being called in to read for that. Oh, it’s the Wachowski Brothers directing? I’ve always wanted to work with them.’ So then you read it and make sure that there’s nothing offensive in it and then it’s kind of like a no brainer really. Of course I’d want to be in this movie. But with other scripts, it’s like, ‘Does anything in this movie seem like it’ll be fun? Is there anything about this character that’s challenging for me or something that I’ve never done before?’ I think you’re constantly looking for something new and different unless it’s, as I said, a director that you’ve always wanted to work with or an actor that you’ve always wanted to work with or a genre that you’re not often thought of for.
Q: What was it like when you first saw the visuals of this, saw what it was going to look like?
CR: Well, they tried to prepare us and they showed us a lot of images and we could know as much or as little as we wanted to about everything. As much as you know or you think you know it’s all really very specifically in their heads. When the whole cast got there, the first time we all arrived Larry [Wachowski] took us through the art department and tried to show us how this thing was done, what this concept was and what that concept was and showing us the sort of concept of the bubble where they go and shoot everything in three hundred and sixty degrees and then they put us in it. Now how much of that I actually understood I’m not sure, but you get a sense from these directors that the vision they have in their head is so complete and so intricate and complex that it really inspires a great deal of trust and confidence. Also, there’s the knowledge that I’d be doing myself a great disservice if I even attempted to think that I knew what they were thinking in their heads and to not just do what they were telling me to do. The only way to make sure that you fit into what their vision is and what will ultimately be manifest onscreen is to do what they tell you to do. So there’s really a sense on set that everyone does exactly what the Wachowskis tell you to do.
Q: So it takes a lot of trust?
CR: Yes, it does. But for people who inspire that trust it’s not very difficult. In a way, once you kind of let that control go it allows you to just sort of play and have fun and it couldn’t have been a more playful set. It was complete imagine time. It was like an imagination Christmas and we’re all in these funny costumes and laughing at each other, making jokes and the cast was having a great time and we all loved each other so much. Our confidence in them really freed us up to commit to this style of acting and the kind of dialogue that we had to deliver in a way that I don’t think we would’ve if we were busy trying to control things.
Q: As far as their idea and their imagination went, are there any scenes that you’d want to be different from what they are now?
CR: No. For me personally I would’ve loved to have done more action stuff but that’s just me wanting to have fun. As far as the movie goes though they did such an amazing job. I think it’s so delicately balanced and balanced in such a perfect way.
Q: Did you know Larry and Andy beforehand?
CR: I did not.
Q: They’re so mysterious. Were they everything that you expected as you got to know them?
CR: Well, I didn’t really know what to expect. But then I was really, really happily surprised that they’re just two great guys who are really funny and warm and two people at a party who are probably the most interesting guys that you’ll get to talk to. They’re just great. Good guys and fun. They want people to be happy on their sets and have a good time and do the job. They’re genuinely affectionate people. It was just a really warm environment.
Q: Are you hoping to bring back the phrase ‘cool beans’?
CR: My sister says cool beans and I said, ‘Okay. This might not be so hard. I have heard my sister use this term before.’ So I think it’s already here and I don’t need to bring it back.
Q: Would you like to direct?
CR: Uhm, no. I like being an actress.
Q: How was working with Emile Hirsch?
CR: He’s great, just great. He’s really wonderful. I read with him at my very first audition and he already had the part and he was just so generous and helpful and sweet. As I said, we had such a great time on set and there was a lot of funny boy humor going on and Susan [Sarandon] and I were sort of up for that and we had a good time.
Q: Did you two come up with a back story for your characters?
CR: No. No [laughs].
Q: How was it working on the ‘Speed Racer’ videogame?
CR: It was good. I liked it. I like doing voice work. It’s sort of funny, the instructional part. You’re like, ‘To complete a three sixty jump â€“’ is really fun.
Q: How do you do that jump?
CR: I don’t know. I forgot.
Q: What’s the fastest you’ve ever gone in a car?
CR: Maybe eighty.
Q: You’re not going around race tracks?
Q: Are you much of a driver?
CR: Yeah. I drive. I don’t love it. My car is kind of broken right now.
Q: What’s the drawback for someone your age in this business when you have to commit to this amount of time on a movie shooting in another country?
CR: Yeah, but this is what I live for. Movie making is my life so I feel like the waste of time is the time spent not making movies.
Q: But in terms of other projects that come along, things that you might miss, are you apprehensive about that at all?
CR: No. If you’re happy with what you’re doing then it’s the greatest thing in the world. I’m in such a lucky position. So many people want to live their dream and do the thing that they dreamed of doing their whole lives and they don’t get to. The fact that I get to do this is still an amazing thing to me.
Q: So you’re not concerned about other projects that would come along that you’d have to say no to?
CR: Do you have something specific in mind? Is there something that you know that I don’t know? No.
Q: Do you think your passion for doing what you do has helped you to avoid some of the other traps that people who’ve gotten fame early on in their life have fallen into?
CR: Not really. I went through the same sort of growing up pains and partying and everything in my late teens and early twenties, but there wasn’t the level of scrutiny and media attention and paparazzi then that there is now. So I got to go through all of that without people taking pictures of me and judging me. I did it already and I’m not interested in that anymore, but I think that had there been the same amount of media attention I would certainly would be in as much trouble as everyone else is these days. I mean, you’re a teenager and in your early twenties. You do stupid things, really dumb things. If people are there documenting the whole thing that’s going to add a whole level of self-consciousness and confusion and shame that leads to more trouble.
Q: You’ve always had a good sense of humor though. Has that helped?
CR: Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn’t help that much. Sometimes the sarcasm doesn’t really translate. It’s true.
Q: I always got it.
CR: I appreciate that.
Q: You said that you wanted to do more action stuff, but you did get a fight scene and got to drive the car.
CR: I know, but I want more.
Q: What was it like to do the kick ass things and be a girlie girl at the same time?
CR: It was great. It was really fun and it was something that I loved because that really is the sort of ultimate feminist thing where you can be as girlie as you want to be, but you’re still as capable and as able to do everything that the boys can do. But I still want more. Yes.
Q: What kinds of action things in a movie would get you excited to do?
CR: I would like to be a spy.
Q: Retro ’60’s type or high tech and current?
CR: High tech and current. Like, I love the boy movies. I love them. That would be awesome, doing something like that.
Q: What kind of training did you do for the stunts in this?
CR: It was specific karate stuff, training. There was three weeks of it. It wasn’t that many sessions, but it was fun.
Q: Did you do most of your own scenes?
CR: The stunts? Yeah, I think I did, but they didn’t use a lot of my fight stuff. I was sad.
Q: Will we see more on the DVD?
CR: Oh, I don’t know.
Q: Was there any driving school at all?
CR: No. We were on a gimble. They were like, ‘Turn left hard!’ You don’t need much schooling for that.
Q: Some actors do that because they want to know the world or something.
CR: Yeah, I know, but not with this. It’s not a real world anyway and the thing is that if you went and you were like, ‘I’m going to be really method about this â€“’ and think everything through and then you’re sitting in the car and they asked you do something and you went, ‘That’s physically impossible.’ The brothers would be like, ‘Uh, huh. Thanks. Do it anyway.’ The two things don’t go well.
Q: Did you have any affinity for the pop style that they use in this movie?
CR: Yeah, I actually do. I find that incredibly gratifying and satisfying because you get to see all these colors and the flashbulbs breaking into hearts and stuff. It’s stuff that people wouldn’t normally do in film because they think, ‘Well, you can’t really do that.’ But they did it. They were like, ‘We want sparkles. We want hearts and rainbow colors.’ It’s just like, ‘Yeah, sparkles!’ I found the whole thing to be so fun. It’s indulgent but a really fun indulgence. It was like, ‘We’re going to do whatever the hell we want to and it’s going to be awesome.’
Q: Have you seen the whole thing together now and how does that compare to what you saw on set?
CR: Yes. It’s totally different and crazy. There is no putting the two together. Sometimes I look at it and I’m like, ‘What? I was never on camera with him. So I don’t understand. It’s confusing.’
Q: Did you spend a lot of time with the monkey?
CR: No. I didn’t spend a lot of time with the monkey.
Q: Was there a crew on set shooting behind the scenes, extras for the DVD?
CR: There was an EPK crew on set at all times, but that’s something that we knew about.
Q: Was it a fun set? Did you guys play jokes on each other?
CR: Yes, but it had nothing to do with the DVD guy.
Q: None of that is in the extras?
CR: No. I don’t think so.
Q: There are more and anime type cartoons with big eyed boys and girls coming out. Did they ever talk about doing a sequel to this?
CR: Yes. There is a plan to make sequels based on how well this movie does, but as far as other cartoon movies with big eyed girls I don’t know.
Q: How did you like working with Kick Gurry?
CR: It was fun. We all had a good time.