Women In Cinema: Christina Ricci

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This is a special week for me writing Women in Cinema. It’s not because of the actress I am spotlighting but why I have chosen this actress. In honor of my husband taking a huge step in his career, I have decided to spotlight his favorite actress. His favorite actress is, Christina Ricci.

Most famous for her role as Wednesday Addams, Christina Ricci was born February 12th, 1980 in Santa Monica, California and was the youngest of four children of a lawyer father and realtor mother. Ricci attended Glenfield Middle School in New Jersey and soon after, enrolled at the Professional Children’s school after appearing in a school play.

After enrolling at the Professional Children’s School, Ricci appeared in many commercials at the age of six, soon after she made her big screen debut in Mermaids (1990) as Cher’s younger daughter.

Ricci’s role in Mermaids proved to be a stepping stone, and Ricci landed the part of Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family (1991). The film proved to be a hit and in 1993 the sequel, Addams Family Values was released with Ricci reprising her role as Wednesday Addams. Ricci played the morbidly precocious character perfectly and established a reputation for playing dark roles very well.

 Wednesday Addams is one of my favorite characters that Ricci ever took on. She mezmorized the audience with her dark portrayal of the young, moody, emotional, mature Addams with her intense stare. One of my favorite scenes from Wednesday was out of Addams Family Value; Wednesday is forced to sit in the harmony hut and watch Disney films and musicals all day with the hope of the camp members her attitude will change. She steps out and forces a smile that was both fake and scary and startles her fellow camp members.  She proved that her acting in the first Addams Family wasn’t a fluke, but what the future held for the talented young actress.

In 1995, Ricci starred in two films; Casper and Now and Then. Both films proved to be a box office success for the young actress. In Casper she played Kat, the young teenager who befriends Casper the friendly ghost. Ricci and costar Bill Pullman made the movie a fun, relaxing adventure to sit back and enjoy. From a child’s point of view it’s entertaining and pure fun. From an adults point of view it’s a warm, touching, sweet movie about the relationship between Kat and her friendly ghost Casper. It was refreshing to watch Ricci do what should be considered a dark film and be warm and lively.

Now and Then could be considered the girl version of Stand by Me and I absolutely adore this film and Ricci in it.  Now and Then is the story of a bunch of women who return to their old tree house and reminisce about the one summer that truly changed their lives. Ricci playing the younger version of Rosie O’Donnell (I don’t get it either) shows the attitude and spunk of a young teenage girl with regular teenage problems. She has never been more real then she was in this film.

Through the years Ricci was seen in a few films such as Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain (1995), Bastard Out of Carolina (1996), and That Darn Cat (1997) before taking on the role as Wendy Hood, a 14 year old wannabe anti-war elitist who is coming to terms with her own sexuality in Ang Lee’s, The Ice Storm (1997). After The Ice Storm was released, Ricci was no longer considered a child actor.

Still a teenager, Ricci took on a new role as an adult actress. In 1998, she went on to star in the sexually based film, The Opposite of Sex. Ricci’s Dede Truitt earned Ricci her first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Unfortunately, the underrated performance never went further than the Golden Globes and Entertainment Weekly considered it the worst Oscar snub of the year.

Ricci went to appear in a number of films before landing a supporting role in the chilling fantasy horror tale, Sleepy Hollow (1999). Ricci played Katrina Van Tassel, an innocent, self spoken young woman who has many secrets that guide Ichabod Crane to figuring out the mystery of the Headless Horseman. Just like The Addams Family, this dark role seemed perfect for Ricci’s look and acting. What made this performance wonderful was how she possessed so many secrets, but wasn’t evil and because of her mysterious look and her secrets, the audience and Ichabod don’t know what to think. She portrayed that beautifully and complimented Johnny Depp’s Crane very well.

After Sleepy Hollow was a box office hit, Ricci slipped into the background and her choice in movies wasn’t what audiences who called her the next big thing expected. She appeared in movie such as The Man Who Cried (the only good movie she chose), All Over the Guy, Prozac Nation, Pumpkin, Miranda, The Gathering and Anything Else. I enjoyed Anything Else, but when you star in a Woody Allen film that his mostly disliked by critics and audiences, it’s not a good thing.

Luckily, things changed in 2003 when she costarred alongside Charlize Theron in Monster. She starred as Shelby, a young lesbian trying to figure the world out for herself. She is also known as, Aileen’s (Charlize Theron) lover. Monster is a well made, brilliantly acted film that onl y received attention for Theron’s incredible performance and transformation. I have always felt since watching the film Ricci deserved a supporting actress nomination. She nicely underplays the role of Shelby and was the perfect complement to Aileen’s abrasiveness. It’s unfortunate that Ricci’s performance was ignored by all the hype of Charlize Theron. She played an incredible supporting role and presents a sadness and vulnerability she hasn’t really shown in her other roles.

Following the success of Monster, Ricci went on to appear in movies such as Penelope (2006), Black Snake Moan (2006), Speed Racer (2008), New York, I love you (2009) and After Life (2010). She will be starring in the new television series Pan Am in the fall, a period drama where she will star as a sexy flight attendant.

Writing this biography about Ricci has made me notice a pattern. As a young actress she did wonderful films that were box office hits. Growing up, it seems she did one great movie, followed by a few bad ones, then another great movie, followed by a few bad ones. Ricci has always had the potential to be this great actress. At a young age she showed a variety of talents but growing up, it seemed she didn’t know how to handle picking the right roles and got stuck trying to be sexy in every role.

I have always enjoyed Ricci in certain roles, some including, The Addams Family, Casper, Now and Then, Monster and Sleepy Hollow, but it seems as though she doesn’t know where to take her career now that she is officially an adult.

In my opinion, instead of finding movies to star in, she should look for small but powerful supporting roles that suit her style of acting, but take it to the next level. Audiences have forgotten about Christina Ricci and she needs to make a change to remind audiences how great she is.  Throughout her career she has proven to be a better supporting actress and I think that’s where she should focus her attention.

Christina Ricci is a wonderfully talented actress who has seemed to have lost her way. I hope she finds her way soon because I don’t think my husband is the only person who wants to see her on the big screen again.

If she wasn’t so short I’d suggest she play Morticia if they ever remake The Addams Family.  Maybe?  Who knows, just a thought.

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I’ve grown up always being able to share my love of film with others. What makes it particularly important to me is that my passion started with my parents and my best friend Caitlin. Whether it has been spending the whole day at the theater with my parents, or sitting on the floor of a movie store for hours with Caitlin, this love of mine has always been a huge part of who I am. This love affair has been going strong for over a decade. My name is Anna and I’m in love with film.Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AYAwardsCircuit
  • mathieu lassalle

    Agreed to disagree! Christina Ricci is indeed a truly brilliant, brave and wonderful actor, she possesses qualities that most female A-listers her age lack completely. It is easy to see that despite her great talent, she had to bend over the years to the hollywood pressure of being focused on her looks, and that is a shame of the industry. However, she managed to retain her qualities and broaden her amazing range, and has grown into a strikingly beautiful young woman. She ‘s cracked broadway recently in a modern play, and has even taken the challenge of playing Shakespeare on the stage. Her films are not always as successful as they should be, and I see in this a lack of support from the industry, due in my opinion to the fact that she prefers independant films. Her films are always bold and different. I don’t understand why she has missed on the big awards, wether in ” adam’s families” “the ice storm” “the opposite of sex” “buffalo 66” or “monster” “black snake moan”, each of which deserving at least o a nomination. Whatever the future holds for her, she is a major talent in the industry, with a body of work that put many her age to shame, and I hope that she will always be acclaimed by her peers as she is now (Chalize Theron, Samuel l. jackson, Laura Linney, commenting publicly of their luck to work with her). I do hope that her star will shine bright as a leading actress in the future. Vivien Leigh, Natalie Wood, Elizabeth Taylor, were no taller than she is, and I am not even sure that any of these ladies possessed her wisdom, her strength and her vulnerability. personnally, I sometimes don’t go see her, even though I am a huge fan, simply because she is taking so much abuse on screen it makes me feel uncomfortable. whenever I see her, she breaks my heart!
    Thanks for the article, and well done, Christina!