Christina Ricci was a celebrated child actress through the 1990s, with movies such as The Addams Family and Now and Again under her belt. In recent years she has become more of a serious actor, unafraid to push the envelope with movies such as Buffalo 66 and Black Snake Moan.
Growing up, Ricci's psychiatrist father performed 'shrieking therapy' with his patients, which Ricci acted out for the benefit of her mother. Her parents divorced in 1993, and she hasn't spoken to her father since. She candidly admits to cutting and burning herself and consciously becoming anorexic.
Ricci's first professional acting experience was in Mermaids with Winona Ryder and Cher. She also briefly appeared in The Hard Way with Michael J Fox and James Woods. However, her breakthrough as an actress was in The Addams Family, where she held her own with seasoned actors such as Raul Julia and Angelica Huston. Her characterisation of Wednesday Addams led to a plethora of acting roles, and will most likely be the role she is most remembered for.
In 1995 Ricci played the young Roberta Martin in Now and Then with Gaby Hoffman1, Demi Moore and Roseanne. Now and Then is sometimes proclaimed to be the girl's version of the 'coming of age' story, just as Stand By Me is considered to be the quintessential boy's 'coming of age'. In her teens she accepted roles in popular teenage movies such as Casper and That Darn Cat, claiming that she took the roles in order to work up to the point when she could choose movies that she was enthusiastic about.
As Ricci grew older and more famous she was able to choose projects that suited her independent nature. She co-starred in the art-house movie Ice Storm, which explored suburban life in the 1970s, and which also starred actors such as Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline, Tobey Maguire and Elijah Wood. When asked to explain her transition from child-star to respected actress she claimed:
I think the main reason a lot of child stars don't make it is that it's hard to see someone as cute, and then all of a sudden see them as having more depth. I guess I was just lucky that, when I was little, nobody thought I was that cute.
Her first 'risque' movie was Buffalo 66 with Vincent Gallo in 1998, in which she played Layla, a young tap dancer abducted by Gallo's character and forced to pretend to be his wife before actually falling in love with him. The dark solemnity of the movie is typical of some of her later movies.
In 1997 Ricci formed her own production company, Blaspheme Films, which in 2002 would produce Pumpkin, in which she played a young college sorority girl who meets a disabled young man and falls in love with him, much to the disapproval of everyone else involved, and in 2001 Prozac Nation, which is based on Elizabeth Wurtzel's best-selling book about her own depression. Prozac Nation was the first movie in which Ricci performed a scene naked.
In 1998 Ricci had a small part in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas alongside Johnny Depp. Also in 1998 Ricci starred in The Opposite of Sex, a black comedy in which she played a pregnant 16 year old who manipulates her rich gay half-brother and his boyfriend. She co-starred with Depp again in 1999 in the popular Sleepy Hollow and in the art-house The Man Who Cried in 2000. She counts Johnny Depp among her good friends. In 2003 she co-starred in the critically-acclaimed Monster alongside Charlize Theron, who won a Golden Globe for her role as the prostitute-turned-serial killer.
Ricci guest-starred in a number of different television shows, including The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle and Grey's Anatomy, the last of which earned her an Emmy Award nomination.
Ricci's most controversial role to date was in Black Snake Moan alongside Samuel L Jackson in 2006. She played a young nymphomaniac and spent a good deal of the movie half-naked and wearing an 18kg chain around her waist. The movie received mixed reviews. At the time of writing Ricci's film Speed Racer is in post-production.