Sometimes, young actors can end up fizzling out before they can get their careers off the ground. This wasn’t the case for Christina Ricci, who started her career at the age of 10, making her film debut opposite Cher and Winona Ryder in Richard Benjamin’s Mermaids (1990). The next year, she made her debut as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family. Over the next few years, Ricci kept her film career going, starring in Casper (1995), Bastard Out of Carolina (1996), with more films in between. Ricci then shifted towards more adult roles by starring in 1998’s The Opposite of Sex and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. She also received critical acclaim for her role opposite Oscar winner Charlize Theron in Patty Jenkins’ 2003 film Monster.
Ricci is no stranger to television, as she can be seen in Ally McBeal, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, and Grey’s Anatomy (for which she was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series). These days, Ricci can be found in the much-discussed Showtime series Yellowjackets, a drama series that finds a group of soccer players stranded after their plane crashes in the wilderness while also exploring their adult selves that still have lingering traumas from the crash. Ricci plays the older version of Misty Quigley, a character who is used to being alone and not taken seriously as a person, both in her younger and older self. Misty is a character that challenges the norms of how female characters can act, which Ricci describes as a “really fun” experience.
Tyler Doster: What was it about the show that made you want to dive into it? Was it the scripts, the creators, hearing about the other actresses?
Christina Ricci: I really loved the concept of the show. And then I read [the script]. But originally, when I heard about the show, [executive producer] Drew Comins, I had a general [meeting] with him and Jackie [Sacerio], and they sort of pitched… Not pitched, but told me the show, and that they were waiting to go to pilot and all this stuff. And then they sent me the pilot with the character that they wanted me to play. And I really loved her. I just thought she was such a great character, such a wonderful opportunity as an actress. So I was super excited.
TD: When it comes to Misty, what do you think resonates with people, and why do you think people are so interested in what she’s doing?
CR: Well, I think she’s a really fun character, and she does extremely outrageous things. But I think she’s also… The specific way that she expresses her anger, I think, is relatable. She’s extremely passive aggressive because she has no way of expressing her anger in any other way. I think when you consider certain things like a basic thing like physiology, well, she’s a tiny woman. Not a physical threat to anybody, and has found that if she keeps up this sort of – if she plays into how harmless she is, then she can get more in life. And so she’s completely passive aggressive, completely bottled up, and will never directly express her anger. And I think that people can relate to that, I think especially women, of always having to stifle your anger. Because for so long, anger is not considered an attractive emotion for a woman, first of all. And then also just, you are not a physically threatening presence. So it isn’t safe for you to be openly aggressive or hostile.
TD: How much fun is it to tap into that level of passive aggression?
CR: Really fun, because I am a very small woman, and I am passive aggressive, because I cannot be openly angry and hostile in public with strangers, it’s not safe.
TD: And how do you access the character of Misty?
CR: Well, I mean, the character is on the page. And just by understanding basic things about how she operates, how self-aware she is, how much she’s willing to show others. All of those little things. Then as you play the writing, it just sort of all comes together I think.
TD: How collaborative was this role with Samantha [Hanratty], the actress who plays the younger version of Misty?
CR: We didn’t work together that much at all really. I mean, we never actually worked together. But I mean, we never worked on the character together. We had a lunch where we met and we discussed what we had been given from the EP’s, what references she was given, what ones I was given, conversations we’ve both had about the character, how she was planning on playing the character, what I felt the difference would be between her character and mine. Those kinds of things, we discussed. But only really once.
TD: What were those initial notes that you were given by the directors and the EP’s about Misty?
CR: We had a lot of conversations about her self-awareness because I think that’s the biggest thing as an actor when you’re playing a character, is how self-aware is this character? Because if they’re doing very extreme things, then that is a very necessary question. Does this person just operate and have no sense of self, and what they’re doing, and that what they’re doing is wrong? Or does this person know what they’re doing is wrong, and everything else they show is a conscious effort to deceive people. And so I think you have to… We had a lot of conversations about that topic, because that’s when… There are different shades of bad or evil, and I think you’re self-aware, and how aware you are of what you’re doing has a lot to do with whether we see the character as a bad person or someone who can’t help themselves. So that was a lot. We talked about that a lot. And just different things about the levels of vulnerability she has, and all those things. And yeah, that kind of stuff.
TD: When you were reading the scripts, and you were getting the scripts, were you trying to figure out the mystery as it happened, or were you trying to just let it unfold over you?
CR: I just let it unfold. And I’m also one of those people who enjoys to be surprised by things. So I’m kind of like, I don’t really have that absolute need to know what happens. I don’t know, I have a more passive sort of like, “What the?” You know? I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. But I don’t feel insane about knowing.
TD: Yeah, I have a very passive version of viewing myself. I like to just watch things and be surprised by them. I don’t try to figure them out as they’re happening.
CR: Yeah, unless it’s something where it’s fun to guess and there’s going to be a definite answer at the end, like the whodunnits. That’s fun to guess. But yeah, I think in general, with this kind of complicated story, it’s more fun to just be like, “Oh my God, what kind of insanity are they going to write?”
TD: How was it working with the other actresses who played the older versions of the girls, Juliette Lewis, Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress?
CR: It was great. I mean, we all formed a really nice bond, and talked all the time, and would… Because most of our scenes are not together. Well, me and Juliette are together. But a lot of our stuff, we’re on our own. And so we would discuss issues we were having, or get advice from each other about things. And that was really lovely, I’ve never quite had that on any other project.
TD: You got to spend a lot more time with Juliette [Lewis] than the other ladies. Tell me about that relationship. Did you guys bounce ideas off each other when you were acting? How did you guys set the scene for each other?
CR: We spent a lot of time talking and hanging out and working together. But we sort of just worked really naturally together, and we blocked the scenes based on our character’s different needs. And her character is a bit more complicated than mine. I mean, I feel like Misty, in her blocking, is always very straightforward. And then very much, Misty, for that storyline, is there as a support to Natalie’s character really. It’s Natalie’s storyline for much of that. And so I felt very much there to support her in those early scenes, and let her set the tone for a lot of those scenes. And then later, there were more… Later, as the sort of relationship grew outside of that storyline, and it was less her storyline, then we just worked really naturally well together. And I think you just have a sense when the scenes about your character, you’re more… You drive the sort of blocking more. When it’s not about your character, you sit back and you let the other person say what they really need. But we just had a very naturally easy way of working together.
TD: So it is television awards season. I’d be remiss if I wasn’t going to ask you what you are watching.
CR: Well, I was one of the hoards of people obsessed with Squid Game, I loved Squid Game so much. And I just started watching Under the Banner of Heaven, which I think is really fascinating. It seems really well made. I loved Mare of Easttown. I live for Kate Winslet. So I just ate up that whole series. I think I watched it immediately again afterwards with my husband.
TD: Ooh, wow. Watching an intense series over and over again.
CR: Yeah, it was really good. So good.
TD: Well, I hope that you enjoy the rest of Under the Banner of Heaven, it’s really good.
CR: Yeah, it seems really great. I’m two episodes in, and there’s such incredible talent in it too.
The first season of Yellowjackets is currently available to stream on Showtime. Christina Ricci is Emmy eligible for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
Source: Awards Watch