The Ingenue: Christina Ricci
Talking to Christina Ricci is, strangely, like chatting with an old friend, albeit one who is insanely cool, effortlessly beautiful, and a magnetic Hollywood star. I tell her this and she laughs – that slightly husky, almost sardonic laugh we know so well from her movies – and before long, we’ve gone down a rabbit hole recalling the films of my childhood, and the ones that made Ricci famous: Mermaids (1990) The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993), Casper (1995), Now and Then (1995), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Sleepy Hollow (1999).
Indeed, so much about Ricci, now 36, seems familiar – that laugh, the enormous eyes, her voice – that I wonder if it’s odd for her, being known so well by so many strangers, having been part of their lives through film and television for almost three decades. It’s not really, she says: she has nothing to compare it to. Ricci has been famous since she was seven years old. Discovered by a scout who was in the audience of her school Christmas play, she landed a few TV commercials before her film career took off with Mermaids, alongside Cher and Winona Ryder, and she quickly became the most in-demand child actress of her generation. As a teenager, she earned a reputation for darkness after she made inflammatory statements about incest and death to the press. Today, she acknowledges this as ‘lashing out’ – she was, after all, just a teenage girl with ordinary insecurities, often placed in extraordinary situations.
Now, as well as being a busy wife and mum – she married camera technician James Heerdegen in 2013 and they welcomed a son in 2014 – and a spokesperson for RAINN, America’s largest anti-sexual violence organisation, she’s created an intoxicating new role for herself. Reading Therese Anne Fowler’s 2013 book Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Ricci was so enchanted by Zelda’s life, particularly her complicated marriage to the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, that she called her agent to ask who owned the film rights. No one did, so Ricci pounced. Season one of Z: The Beginning of Everything premiered on Amazon in February, and a second season is already in the works. And it seems Ricci was on to something: it’s recently emerged that Ron Howard is directing a film about Zelda, with Jennifer Lawrence in the starring role. Ricci and I spoke about the show, how she got under Zelda’s skin, growing up famous and why she doesn’t believe in complaining.