“I’m very small (5-foot-1) but I’m surprisingly strong,” says Christina Ricci, 33, who tackles murder in Lifetime’s Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (Jan. 25). “Everyone was impressed with my ax-swinging skills – until I swung the ax backwards, and it was so big and heavy that I hit myself on the back of my spine. It made quite a horrendous sound. I didn’t know my spine would sound hollow if you hit it with a big chunk of metal.”

Ricci plays the title character, the infamous woman acquitted of her parents’ 1892 murders. “I’ve always been obsessed with true crime,” Ricci says.

Plus, she wanted to try and get to the bottom of Borden’s extreme behavior.

“This role is so perfect for me. I’m interested in people who are troubled. Their behavior comes from their neuroses. I loved the idea of living inside someone so villainous and trying to express the person everyone can relate to. Lizzie was guilty, but the jury couldn’t see their way to convict her. Very little is known about what went on in the family, but obviously she was a very troubled girl. You don’t kill your parents if you’re happy.”

Ricci, on the other hand, is quite happy with life as a newlywed and aspiring chef.

“I’ve really gotten into cooking,” she says, “and that meant for a while my hands and forearms were burned by pots. During the holidays I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for brining a turkey. I like to yell to my iPad when she commands me to do things: ‘Martha, hold on!'”