Christina Ricci talks Robert Pattinson, stage fright and Bel Ami…

You must have enjoyed playing such a coquettish character in Bel Ami?

I liked the idea of playing someone who you get the impression is an inherently happy person, who has never really known a day of angst or unhappiness in her life, but then as an audience we get to see her experience her first heart ache, her dealings with pain and anguish on screen and throughout the film. That was interesting to me.

Was it easy to forgive her infidelity; it seems understandable in context?

Yes. At that time it was expected and accepted that people would have extramarital affairs and as long as it was handled with discretion and not flaunted, theses things were accepted and not frowned upon.

The clothes were great; though probably difficult to wear, right?

It was a fun piece to do. It was a costume drama, which I love, and yes the clothes are just wonderful. In truth, they are uncomfortable after a couple of hours but it is still fun to do and to dress up like that. It is lovely to dress up in beautiful clothes and wigs. Our hair and make up department were so talented and the fashion design was so beautiful so to be amongst all of that was just lovely.

How did it work with two directors shooting on one film?

Nick and Declan work very specifically. Nick is much more involved in the production design and the shot design and blocking and lighting and Declan works more with the actors and performance.

The film takes a satirical swipe at the media…

Yes. I think if you work in the press you see that more than if you don’t work for the press, because I never noticed it until I saw the reaction from some critics. And then everyone started talking about it. Then I thought, ‘Well, yes.’

What did you make of Robert Pattinson’s anti-hero, Georges?

I think he is an incredibly unhappy man and he is someone who will never find happiness and that is because of his selfishness. I don’t see him as a misogynist, per se. I see him as a user and it doesn’t matter if it is a man or a woman – he sees that he can use women more easily because of his looks. I think the women are nicer to him than the men. The men are not kind to him because of the way he looks and the women are kind to him. If the men were kind to him he’d use them too.

How did you enjoy working with Robert; it was a bit of a sideways step for him?

He is great. He is wonderful to work with and he is incredibly talented and he’s lovely on set. He and I had quite a bit of fun together. We laughed a lot. We were both very self-effacing and liked to make fun of ourselves. We joked about a lot on set and just generally had a good time together.

Did that make the love scenes easier to shoot?

It helps if you are with someone who you can laugh with a lot, because that way you can make fun of the situation, otherwise everything gets a bit too serious and weird.

Who have been some of the important women in your life?

My sister has been very important to me and has been a role model for me. Also I have had the same agent since I was ten years old, Tanya, and she has always been like a mother to me, a real role model. My sister is four years older than me. She is a schoolteacher in Los Angeles.

You live there, too?

Yes, though I spend a lot of time on the East Coast, too, especially since I have been doing Pan Am. I have been living in Brooklyn and then with doing the play on Broadway, Manhattan, I am staying in Brooklyn for longer.

It’s taken you a long time to come to the stage. Why is that?

I have had fairly bad stage fright throughout most of my life and then at a certain point I was still having stage fright but it wasn’t quite as crippling and I felt like I could probably handle and maybe it was time to tackle it.

When were you first aware of it?

Always. I have always been terrified of public speaking or anything like that.

But you started out doing plays when you were young?

Yes. But I was so young at that point that I didn’t do anything live after that for such a long time. And any time after that if I had to do public speaking when I was older, it was horrifying, so the idea of doing live theatre? It just made me sick too the stomach.

Have you conquered the fear now you have done a stint on stage?

It was scary each night but I certainly got used to it and you just keep going and you do rehearse enough so you know what you are doing. I want to do it again and I want to keep learning and changing and become the best actress I can possibly be.

Do you remember an epiphany moment that turned you on to acting or were you too young?

I remember working for a long time and when I was 14 I was on set and I just decided. I looked around and thought, ‘There is never going to be anything I love to do as much as this’ so I did it for the rest of my life.

Were there any disadvantages in starting out so young?

I don’t think so. I don’t think I would have started it as an adult, though. I would have found it too daunting because there are too many adults who want to be actors.

With your fear of public speaking, doing press must have been awful when you were young?

Press wasn’t as daunting. It was just the public speaking. But journalists do forget your age sometimes when you are a young actor. I can remember being asked questions and wondering why anyone was asking me them. I was such a young person for those questions. I often thought it was ridiculous so I would say something obnoxious or sarcastic. I will never live those answers down!

What further ambitions do you have outside acting? You have produced and directed…

I am really happy just acting right now and I would like to focus on being the best I can be as an actress.