Christina Ricci

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Christina Ricci
Christina Ricci by David Shankbone.jpg
Ricci in May 2008
Born (1980-02-12) February 12, 1980 (age 38)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress, producer
Years active 1990–present
James Heerdegen (m. 2013)
Children 1

Christina Ricci (/r/; born February 12, 1980)[1] is an American actress and producer. She made her film debut at the age of nine in Mermaids (1990), which was followed by a breakthrough role as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family (1991) and its sequel (1993). Subsequent appearances in Casper and Now and Then (both 1995) brought her fame as a "teen icon".[2] At 17, she made a successful transition into adult-oriented roles with Ang Lee's The Ice Storm (1997).[3]

Throughout the late 1990s, Ricci appeared in small-scale films such as Buffalo '66, Pecker, and The Opposite of Sex (all 1998), receiving a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for the latter. She found mainstream success with a starring role in Tim Burton's big-budget Gothic fantasy Sleepy Hollow (1999), and received critical acclaim as the girlfriend of Aileen Wuornos in the Oscar-winning biographical drama Monster (2003), and for her portrayal of a nymphomaniac in Black Snake Moan (2006). Her other credits include Woody Allen's Anything Else (2003), Wes Craven's Cursed (2005), Penelope (2006), the Wachowskis' Speed Racer (2008), and Bel Ami (2012). Despite being known predominantly for her work in independent features, Ricci has appeared in many box office hits—to date, her films have grossed in excess of US$1.4 billion.[4]

On television, Ricci appeared as Liza Bump on the fifth and final season of Ally McBeal. In 2006, she received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role as a paramedic on Grey's Anatomy. From 2011–12, she starred as a stewardess on the short-lived period drama series Pan Am. In 2014, she played the titular role in the TV biopic Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, and reprised the role for the limited series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (2015), on which she also served as executive producer. Her other producing credits include the films Prozac Nation (2001) and Pumpkin (2002), and the TV series Z: The Beginning of Everything (2017). In 2010, she made her Broadway debut in Time Stands Still.

Ricci married dolly grip James Heerdegen in October 2013 and gave birth to a son in August 2014.[5] She is the national spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).[6]

Early life

Ricci was born in Santa Monica, California, the fourth and youngest child of Sarah (née Murdoch) and Ralph Ricci.[1][7] Her mother worked as a Ford Agency model during the 1960s, and later became a real estate agent. Her father had a varied career, including jobs as a gym teacher, lawyer, drug counsellor, and primal scream therapist.[8] Regarding her ancestry, Ricci has stated, "The Italian blood has been bred out of me. There's an Italian four or five generations back who married an Irish woman and they had all sons. So they married more Irish women, there were more sons, and more Irish women. Now I'm basically Scots-Irish".[9]

Ricci's family moved to Montclair, New Jersey, where she grew up attending Edgemont Elementary School, Glenfield Middle School, Montclair High School, and Morristown–Beard School.[10] She later attended Professional Children's School in New York City.[11]

Her siblings are Rafael (born 1971), Dante (born 1974), and Pia (born 1976).[12][13] Ricci's parents separated when she was 13, and she has not spoken to her father since.[14] She has been vocal about her childhood in interviews, particularly her parents' divorce and turbulent relationship with her father.[15]


Ricci at the Gramercy Park Hotel, 2007

At the age of eight, Ricci was discovered by a local theater critic when she starred in a school production of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Another child was originally cast in the role, but Ricci devised a plan to secure the role for herself. She later recalled, "I've always been a really ambitious person... [that was] the first time it really reared its ugly head".[16]

Soon thereafter, she featured in a pair of spoof commercials on Saturday Night Live. The first of these featured Ricci as a child at a birthday party in which medical waste fell out of a burst piñata, parodying the then-topical dumping of waste in the rivers of the United States' east coast. This gained Ricci her SAG-AFTRA card.[17]

Ricci's big-screen debut was in the 1990 film Mermaids, as Cher's character's youngest daughter, Kate. She also appeared—alongside Cher and co-star Winona Ryder—in the music video for "The Shoop Shoop Song", which featured on the film's soundtrack. The following year, she starred as the morbidly precocious Wednesday Addams in Barry Sonnenfeld's The Addams Family, based on the cartoon of the same name. She reprised the role for the 1993 sequel, Addams Family Values. Both films were a commercial success, and critics singled out Ricci's performances as highlights.

Her next project, the live-action adaptation of Casper (1995), was her first in a lead role. The film received mixed reviews, but was a success at the box office, being the year's eighth highest-grosser.[18] Ricci then starred in the adventure film Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain (1995), and as the younger version of Rosie O'Donnell's character, Roberta, in the coming-of-age drama Now and Then (1995). The latter is often cited as the "female version" of Stand by Me,[19] and has gained a cult following since its release.[20] She also had a supporting role in Bastard out of Carolina (1996), which was the directorial debut of Anjelica Huston, whom Ricci had previously worked with on the Addams Family films.

In 1997, Ricci starred in the Disney remake of That Darn Cat, which was a moderate success at the box office.[21] Later that year, she made a shift into more "adult" roles with her portrayal of the troubled, sexually curious Wendy Hood in Ang Lee's critically acclaimed drama, The Ice Storm. In his review for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers wrote, "The sight of the [film's] young stars [...] fiddling with each other may shock '90s prudes, but Lee handles these moments with dry wit and compassion [...] The adolescent members of the cast do their characters proud, with Ricci a particular standout. Her wonderfully funny and touching performance, capturing the defiance and confusion that come with puberty, is the film's crowning glory".[22]

Next, she had a small role in Terry Gilliam's offbeat road movie, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), which marked her first collaboration with Johnny Depp. The same year, she had leading roles in the independent drama Buffalo '66, in which she played Vincent Gallo's unwitting abductee-turned-girlfriend; John Waters' satirical comedy Pecker; and Don Roos' black comedy-drama The Opposite of Sex, as the acid-tongued, manipulative Dede. For the latter, Ricci won acclaim and was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress. Variety's Todd McCarthy described her as "deadly funny", and felt that she delivered her dialogue with "the skill of a prospective Bette Davis".[23] Entertainment Weekly singled out her portrayal of Dede as one of the "Worst Oscar Snubs Ever".[24]

In 1999, Ricci co-starred for a second time with Johnny Depp, in Tim Burton's supernatural horror-fantasy Sleepy Hollow. The film was a commercial and critical success, and Ricci received a Saturn Award for her portrayal of Katrina Van Tassel. Other film appearances during this period included 200 Cigarettes (1999), Bless the Child (2000), and The Man Who Cried (2000; her third time working with Depp). She then starred in Prozac Nation (2001), a drama based on Elizabeth Wurtzel's best-selling memoir. The film—Ricci's first outing as a producer—received mixed reviews, but critics agreed that Ricci was the highlight, with Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine describing her as "splendid".[25]

In 2002, she guest-starred in seven episodes of the final season of Ally McBeal, as lawyer Debbie 'Liza' Bump.[26] The same year, she produced and starred in Pumpkin, a black comedy about the relationship between a developmentally-handicapped young man and a sorority girl, played by Ricci. In his review for The Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert wrote, "Pumpkin is alive, and takes chances, and uses the wicked blade of satire in order to show up the complacent political correctness of other movies in its campus genre. It refuses to play it safe. And there is courage in the performances... [for example] the way Ricci sails fearlessly into the risky material".[27]

In 2003, Ricci had leading roles in the British horror film The Gathering, and the Woody Allen comedy Anything Else. That same year, she starred opposite Charlize Theron in Monster. Ricci played Selby Wall, a character based on the real-life companion of serial killer Aileen Wuornos (played by Theron).[28] Speaking of her decision to take the part, Ricci said it posed a challenge as it "goes completely against who I am [as a person]", and described the filming experience as "dark and depressing".[29] The film received rave reviews upon its release, with most critics directing their attention toward Theron, who went on to receive an Academy Award. She acknowledged Ricci during her acceptance speech, calling her the film's "unsung hero".[30] Of Ricci's performance, Roger Ebert said, "[she] finds the correct note for Selby [...] so correct [that] some critics have mistaken it for bad acting, when in fact it is sublime acting in its portrayal of a bad actor. She plays Selby as clueless, dim, in over her head, picking up cues from moment to moment, cobbling her behavior out of notions borrowed from bad movies, old songs, and barroom romances. Selby must have walked into a gay bar for the first time only a few weeks ago, and studied desperately to figure out how to present herself. Selby and Aileen are often trying to improvise the next line they think the other wants to hear".[31]

Ricci with Emile Hirsch in 2008 at the premiere of Speed Racer

In 2005, Ricci starred in the Wes Craven horror film Cursed, which gained notoriety for its troubled production history.[32] The following year, she made a guest appearance as a paramedic on the ABC medical drama series Grey's Anatomy, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award.[33] She then starred as the title character in Penelope, a romantic comedy-fantasy based on the legends of pig-faced women. The role required Ricci to wear a prosthetic nose; "We had a couple different noses that they tested at one point [...] this really hideous, awfully unattractive snout [...] then there was this really cute Miss Piggy snout [...] we ended up meeting somewhere in the middle".[34] Empire called the film a "lovely fairy tale",[35] while Andrea Gronvall of The Chicago Reader felt it was "a worthy vehicle" for Ricci.[36] Similarly, David Rooney of Variety felt that Ricci gave "the fanciful script more grounding than it might otherwise have had",[37] and critic Eric D. Snider said it was "fun to see her in the most light-hearted role she's played since... well, almost ever".[38]

In 2007, Ricci starred opposite Samuel L. Jackson in Black Snake Moan, as a young woman suffering from sexual addiction. Ricci lost several pounds in order to make her character look "unhealthy".[39] The film was deemed controversial because of its dark and exploitative themes,[40] but critics felt that Ricci was impressive.[41][42][43] Writing for Film Comment, Nathan Lee called her performance "fearless, specific, and blazingly committed", adding, "She's the white-hot focal point of [director] Brewer's loud, brash, encompassing vision".[44] That same year, she starred again with Jackson in Home of the Brave, a drama following the lives of four soldiers in Iraq and their return to the United States.

In 2008, Ricci played the female lead in the Wachowskis' big-budget action film Speed Racer, based on the 1960s Japanese anime and manga series of the same name. The film received negative reviews upon its release and was deemed a financial failure; however, it has since been reappraised as a "masterpiece" by some critics.[45][46][47][48] Also in 2008, she appeared in the anthology film New York, I Love You, with Orlando Bloom.

The following year, Ricci signed on for three episodes of TNT's Saving Grace, during its second season.[49] She co-starred as Abby Charles, a detective who teams up with lead character Grace, played by Holly Hunter. Next, Ricci appeared alongside Liam Neeson in the psychological thriller After.Life (2009), and in the comedy Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (2010), which was written by Adam Sandler. She also made her Broadway theatre debut in Donald Margulies' drama, Time Stands Still, opposite Laura Linney. Her first public performance was on September 23, 2010 at the Cort Theatre. She replaced Alicia Silverstone, who played the role of Mandy during the play's initial run in 2009. The New York Times described Ricci as "confident" and "appealing".[50]

From 2011 to 2012, Ricci starred as Margaret "Maggie" Ryan on the ABC drama series Pan Am, set in the 1960s and based on the iconic airline of the same name. The series was generally well received by critics but, due to a decline in viewing figures during its initial run of 14 episodes, the producers decided not to proceed with a second season.[51]

Ricci returned to the stage in April 2012, playing Hermia in an off-Broadway revival of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.[52] The same year, she starred with Robert Pattinson in the period drama, Bel Ami, based on the 1885 French novel of the same name.

She next appeared in the Australian film Around The Block (2013), and provided voices for the animated films The Smurfs 2 (2013) and The Hero of Color City (2014). She also starred as the title character in Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, a Lifetime television film inspired by the true story of Lizzie Borden, who was accused, tried, and ultimately acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother in 1892. The following year, she reprised the role for the eight-part limited series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. The latter received mixed reviews, but critics praised the performances of Ricci and her co-star, Clea DuVall. Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Keith Uhlich said the actresses "have a delectable rapport not too far removed from Bette Davis and Joan Crawford at their hag-horror peak in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?"[53]

In 2016, Ricci appeared with Susan Sarandon and Sharon Stone in the film Mothers and Daughters. She then starred in the Amazon Video miniseries Z: The Beginning of Everything, which presented a fictionalized version of the life of American socialite Zelda Fitzgerald. Ricci served as a producer on the series, which, she later acknowledged, is how she got the lead part; "I can tell you that in my experience, I have never, ever been cast in a role like this and I would never get this part normally [...] I'm just not seen in that way. There are categories that people fall into, and types, and I was never a romantic lead. Basically, you couldn't get five people in a room to agree that I should be a romantic lead. I could get one person, but there's always more than one person whose opinion matters".[54]

In 2018, Ricci starred opposite John Cusack in the mystery-thriller Distorted. The film received mixed reviews, but critics agreed that Ricci's performance was its biggest asset.[55][56][57]

Other ventures

On December 4, 1999, Ricci appeared as the guest host on Saturday Night Live, and performed parodies of Britney Spears and the Olsen twins. During one of her skits, she accidentally punched actress Ana Gasteyer in the face.[58]

Ricci made a cameo appearance on Beck's 2005 album Guero, providing vocals for the track "Hell Yes".[59]

Ricci is listed in several art publications as one of artist Mark Ryden's muses. Her image has appeared in several of his oil paintings and sketches.[60][61][62]

Charity work

Ricci is the national spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).[6][63]

Personal life

"It's such a different world than it was when I was coming of age. I don't know how these young people keep it together with all the demands on them with social media and the internet. I had normal growing pains and issues and it was difficult but not disastrous. But I feel like if I was trying to do that in this environment, the way that society is now, I would probably be a total disaster."

— Ricci in June 2014[64]

Ricci began dating actor Owen Benjamin in 2008 after they met on the set of the film All's Faire in Love. They became engaged in March 2009, but ended the engagement two months later.[65] In February 2013, Ricci announced her engagement to dolly grip James Heerdegen, whom she met while working on the series Pan Am in 2012.[66] They married on October 26, 2013 in Manhattan, New York.[67] They have a son named Freddie (born August 2014).[68]

After making the top of PETA's worst-dressed list[69] and receiving a letter from them, Ricci decided to give up wearing fur.[70]

Ricci has tattoos of a lion on her right shoulder blade (a reference to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a favorite novel of hers as a child); an Edward Gorey figure on the inside of her right wrist; a pair of praying hands on her left hip (this tattoo was originally a bat); the name "Jack" on her right thigh for a deceased pet; a sparrow on her right breast; and a mermaid on her left ankle. She also had the words "Move or Bleed" on the left side of her rib cage, as well as a bouquet of sweet peas on her lower back.[71][72][73]



Year Title Role Notes
1990 Mermaids Kate Flax
1991 The Hard Way Bonnie
The Addams Family Wednesday Addams
1993 The Cemetery Club Jessica
Addams Family Values Wednesday Addams
1995 Casper Kathleen "Kat" Harvey
Now and Then Roberta Martin
Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain Beth Easton
1996 Bastard out of Carolina Dee Dee
The Last of the High Kings Erin
1997 Little Red Riding Hood Little Red Riding Hood Short film
That Darn Cat Patti Randall
The Ice Storm Wendy Hood
1998 The Opposite of Sex Dede Truitt
Buffalo '66 Layla
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Lucy
Small Soldiers Gwendy Doll Voice role
Pecker Shelley
I Woke Up Early The Day I Died Teenage Hooker
Desert Blue Ely Jackson
1999 200 Cigarettes Val
No Vacancy Lillian
Sleepy Hollow Katrina Van Tassel
2000 Bless the Child Cheri Post
The Man Who Cried Suzie
2001 All Over the Guy Rayna Wyckoff
Prozac Nation Elizabeth Wurtzel
2002 Pumpkin Carolyn McDuffy
Miranda Miranda
2003 The Gathering Cassie Grant
Anything Else Amanda Chase
I Love Your Work Shana
Monster Selby Wall
2005 Cursed Ellie Myers
2006 Penelope Penelope Wilhern
Black Snake Moan Rae Doole
Home of the Brave Sarah Schivino
2008 Speed Racer Trixie
New York, I Love You Camille Segment: "Shunji Iwai"
2009 All's Faire in Love Kate
After.Life Anna Taylor
2010 Alpha and Omega Lilly Voice role
2011 California Romanza Lena Short film
Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star Kathy McGee
2012 Bel Ami Clotilde de Marelle
War Flowers Sarabeth Ellis
2013 The Smurfs 2 Vexy Voice role
Around the Block Dino Chalmers
2014 The Hero of Color City Yellow Voice role
2016 Mothers and Daughters Rebecca
2017 Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Terra Voice role
2018 Distorted Lauren Curran Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1990 H.E.L.P. Olivia Episode: "Are You There, Alpha Centauri?"
1996 The Simpsons Erin (voice) Episode: "Summer of 4 Ft. 2"
2002 The Laramie Project Romaine Patterson HBO movie
2002 Malcolm in the Middle Kelly Episode: "Company Picnic: Part 1"
2002 Ally McBeal Liza Bump Recurring role, 7 episodes
2005 Joey Mary Teresa Episode: "Joey and the Fancy Sister"
2006 Grey's Anatomy Hannah Davies Episodes: "It's the End of the World", "As We Know It"
2009 Saving Grace Offcr. Abby Charles 3 episodes
2011–12 Pan Am Margaret "Maggie" Ryan Main role, 14 episodes
2012 The Good Wife Therese Dodd Episode: "Anatomy of a Joke"
2014 Lizzie Borden Took an Ax Lizzie Borden Lifetime movie, titular role
2015 The Lizzie Borden Chronicles Lizzie Borden Lead role, 8 episodes
2017 Z: The Beginning of Everything Zelda Fitzgerald Lead role, 10 episodes

Other works

Music videos
Video games
Audiobook[citation needed]
  • Gossip Girl – Narrator
  • Gossip Girl "You Know You Love Me" – Narrator

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1991 Young Artist Awards Best Young Actress Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Mermaids Won
1992 Saturn Award Best Performance by Younger Actor The Addams Family Nominated
1992 Chicago Film Critics Association Award Most Promising Actress The Addams Family Nominated
1992 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Supporting Actress The Addams Family Won
1992 Young Artist Awards Best Young Actress starring in a Motion Picture The Addams Family Nominated
1994 Saturn Awards Best Performance by a Younger Actor The Addams Family Values Nominated
1996 Saturn Awards Best Performance by a Younger Actor[citation needed] Casper Won
1996 Young Artist Awards Best Young Leading Actress: Feature Film Casper Nominated
1998 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress That Darn Cat Nominated
1998 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young Actress The Ice Storm Nominated
1998 Seattle International Film Festival SIFF Awards for Best Actress The Opposite of Sex, Buffalo '66 Won
1998 National Board of Review Best Supporting Actress The Opposite of Sex Won
1998 YoungStar Awards Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Comedy Film The Opposite of Sex Won
1998 YoungStar Awards Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Drama Film The Ice Storm Nominated
1999 Satellite Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical The Opposite of Sex Won
1999 American Comedy Awards Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) The Opposite of Sex Nominated
1999 Golden Globe Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical The Opposite of Sex Nominated
1999 Independent Spirit Awards Best Female Lead The Opposite of Sex Nominated
1999 Florida Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actress Buffalo '66, The Opposite of Sex, Pecker Won
2000 Teen Choice Awards Film – Choice Actress Sleepy Hollow Nominated
2000 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actress Sleepy Hollow Nominated
2000 B-Movie Awards Best Celebrity Cameo [74] I Woke Up Early The Day I Died Won
2000 Saturn Awards Best Actress Sleepy Hollow Won
2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Actress – Horror[citation needed] Sleepy Hollow Won
2001 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Supporting Actress – Suspense[citation needed] Bless the Child Won
2001 Young Hollywood Awards Hottest, Coolest Young Veteran[citation needed] Won
2002 Teen Choice Awards Film – Choice Actress, Comedy Pumpkin Nominated
2004 MTV Movie Awards Best Kiss (shared with Charlize Theron) Monster Nominated
2006 Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Grey's Anatomy Nominated
2008 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie Actress – Action Adventure Speed Racer Nominated
2016 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie The Lizzie Borden Chronicles Nominated


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  74. ^ "B-Movie Film Festival (2000)". Retrieved November 30, 2017. 

External links

  • Christina Ricci on IMDb
  • Christina Ricci Interview by Al Weisel, US Magazine, June 1998
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