Empire – 1999
An insolent teen within the competitive Hollywood star system is refreshingly rare; Christina Ricci comes across as a punk rocker in Tinseltown, a genuinely rebellious spirit. She is her own person, not a heavily groomed, perfectly packaged movie star, plus she makes bold statements and opines wildly. Recent articles relish her scandalous quotes. Careless observations: “I’m obsessed with incest”, “It’s such a natural thing to have sex with members of your family” or “I was so perverted when I was a little girl…I wanted to kill people,” are all said for shock value. Clearly she wants to ruffle and provoke. Such outrageous statements are wonderful in their extremity and apparent naivetÃ©. You can’t take what she says seriously, nor can you expect she does either. After all, she is still a teenager which, she maintains, gives her licence “to sound illiterate and make stupid comments”.
Ricci is far more interesting than most actors of her generation. Only Natalie Portman and Claire Danes can match her. Although she is often up for the same roles as Portman and Danes, Ricci is, in fact, in a class of her own. (Portman was apparently too intimidated by the content of The Ice Storm to take the role while Claire Danes successfully competed with Ricci for Romeo And Juliet.) It was her darkness and solemnity that initially led her to The Adams Family films. She claims she didn’t even have to act, that she is at her most relaxed when she doesn’t have to smile or talk to anyone. Behind those huge, deep brown eyes, petulant mouth and that habitual frown lies a murky soul. Playing Wednesday Addams permitted her to delve into her dark side and that’s the place she’s always been the most content. Ricci, however, doesn’t know where the perception that she has an angry persona originates.
“I don’t feel that I’m angry. I get annoyed a lot, but who doesn’t? Everybody who thinks enough isn’t gonna be incredibly happy all the time, but I’m fairly okay.” Ricci has been in the acting game for almost half her 18 years and has an impressive quota of 23 films to her name. She personifies the most intriguing paradoxes; simultaneously innocent and insolent, virginal and vampish, cute and intense. Suddenly that little kid who played Wednesday with such po-faced aplomb has come of age and effectively slaughtered her precocious child image with three sexually promiscuous, bad-girl roles in The Ice Storm, The Opposite Of Sex and Buffalo 66. Over the last two years Ricci has made no fewer than seven films. Standout performances include a cameo as a runaway teen artist in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas opposite Johnny Depp, and this month a supporting role as a workaholic laundress who likes rough sex in John Waters’ Pecker. But her most notable role of late is as a destructive and ruthless nymphet in The Opposite Of Sex, the tale of a mean teen queen. Ricci doesn’t consider such an unlikeable character to be a risky career move (“I don’t really think about what other people think about what I’m doing, I just think about what I’m doing, if I’m having fun, if I’m interested in the part”) and admits it’s not a stretch to play a convincing rebel.
“I guess I’m a little rebellious. Like, I don’t do what I’m supposed to do and I don’t like it when people tell me what to do, so I do the opposite. Sort of contrary. I’ve always been like that.”
Glimpses of her private life indicate that Ricci is a fairly ordinary person. In her spare time she likes to sleep a lot, go to the cinema, listen to bands such as the Pixies and King Missile, and watch cheesy TV sitcoms (“I’m very easily entertained”).
She lives with her two cats and one struggling actor/waiter boyfriend Matthew Frauman, and has formed her own production company, Blaspheme Films. She is writing and directing her debut film, Asylum, due for release later this year. It is based on the premise that childhood is an asylum from reality, that some survive it and become reborn into maturity while others aren’t. It’s unclear as to which camp Ricci thinks she belongs in – growing up in the public eye was a lonely process, devoid of role models.
“I learned very early on that idols will eventually fall down, so I didn’t have any.”