Christina Ricci, co-star of the "Cursed" Movie!
Christina is one of the most prominent movie stars in her generation. She has demonstrated consistent success throughout her acting career, and she keeps on impressing and solidifying her status with every new movie. The daughter of a lawyer and a former Ford model and the youngest of four children, Ricci was born in Santa Monica, CA, on February 12, 1980. Following her family's move to New York when she was eight, Ricci got her start acting in commercials. Her big screen debut came shortly after, when director Richard Benjamin cast her as Cher's younger daughter in Mermaids. Although much attention went to Winona Ryder, who played Ricci's older sister, the young actress made enough of an impression to land more work: The following year, she starred as the morbidly precocious Wednesday Addams in the hit film adaptation of The Addams Family. The role would help to establish Ricci as an actress known for playing dark, unconventional characters; she went on to play Wednesday again in the film's 1993 sequel Addams Family Values.
Following a series of films both good and bad, including Now and Then, in which she played the young Rosie O'Donnell, and the critically panned but commercially successful Casper, Ricci starred as the troubled, sexually precocious Wendy Hood in Ang Lee's widely praised The Ice Storm. The actress handled the part with uncanny maturity, leading many observers to conclude that she was truly beginning to come into her own. This assessment was solidified with Ricci's subsequent roles in films like Buffalo '66 (in which she played Vincent Gallo's unwitting abductee-turned-girlfriend), John Waters' Pecker, and Don Roos' The Opposite of Sex, the last of which cast her as Dedee, a delightfully loathsome girl who wreaks tabloid-style havoc on everyone she encounters, whether they be dead or alive. For her performance as Dedee, Ricci was nominated for a Golden Globe and attained the unofficial title of the Sundance Film Festival's 1998 "It" Girl.
Now riding high as an indie teen queen, Ricci went on in 1999 to headline the much-anticipated but ultimately disappointing 200 Cigarettes; the same year, she could be seen in Desert Blue, which featured 200 Cigarettes co-stars Casey Affleck and Kate Hudson, and Sleepy Hollow, in which she played Gothic princess Katrina Van Tassel opposite Johnny Depp's Ichabod Crane in Tim Burton's adaptation of Washington Irving's ghostly tale.
In 2000, Ricci starred in Sally Potter's The Man Who Cried, in which she played a young Jewish woman who flees from Germany to Paris during World War II, and Bless the Child, a supernatural thriller that also starred Kim Basinger and Rufus Sewell.
Though rumors of a stateside release date for Ricci's 2001 drama Prozac Nation continued to linger, the dark young starlet would move on to such unconventional efforts as The Laramie Project (2002) and the offbeat romantic comedy Pumpkin, which found her as a popular sorority girl who risks becoming a social outcast after falling for a mentally disabled young athlete whom she has volunteered to help train. Though subsequent efforts as Miranda and The Gathering (both 2002) fell beneath the radar at the box office, Ricci was a hit with Ally McBeal fans when she appeared in a recurring role in the Fox show that same year. Audiences who caught Woody Allen's 2003 comedy Anything Else found her as charming as ever (despite her sometimes shrill characterization in the film). At festivals that year, Ricci could be seen in supporting roles in actor Adam Goldberg's dark drama I Love Your Work, as well as in director Patty Jenkins' Aileen Wuornos biopic Monster.
Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg talk Craven's Cursed
Reshoots are an integral part of the moviemaking process – even essential in some cases. But when more things change than remain the same once editors, producers, and executives take a look at the first spate of footage, it usually augurs a bad sign as much for the audience as for the filmmakers involved. Such was the case with Cursed, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson's werewolf epic, which releases in theaters this week with a flurry of behind-the-scenes drama that threatens to overpower the allure of their historically fruitful collaboration.
Craven and Kevin Williamson evidently overhauled the story completely after principal photography didn't cut together well, and the finished film is a melange of material culled from production work almost two years in the making. Unfortunately, Craven and Williamson were unavailable at press time to discuss the once and future status of their recent collaboration, but IGN FilmForce was fortunate enough to sit down with Cursed's stars, Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg, for a fruitful discussion about what makes a horror movie work – and definitely not work.
"It changed quite a bit," confesses Ricci, who plays Ellie, a personal assistant who finds men groveling at her feet after the curse of a werewolf makes her irresistible to the opposite sex. Speaking alongside her co-star on and on-screen brother, played by Eisenberg (Roger Dodger), she says, "We weren't related in the original version. We just both happened to be involved in this crash. Then, when we came back we were brother and sister."
"Josh [Jackson] wasn't in the original one," she adds. "And there was no club that anybody was opening."
Eisenberg corroborates her story. "No, there was a wax museum," he says, going on to suggest that much of the retained early footage contained effects-heavy but not necessarily story-intensive material. "They were able to keep some of the great effects, but the story, I think, is improved. I think the final product is now better, but I think they were able to keep some of the great effects or some of the more expensive things that still fit into the story."
While Ricci confesses doubts that the producers will ever see fit to let the excised footage ever see the light of day on DVD, she contends it was their expertise that initiated the reshoots in the first place. "[Actors] weren't seeing dailies, and I think it was everyone who was watching the dailies who could see that it wasn't really working," she says. "When you're not seeing what's actually on camera, sometimes it's hard [to know if it's working]. I mean, the final product of any movie usually feels like a totally alien thing than what you've been shooting anyway, so we wouldn't really be able to have that perspective or the objectivity to know that it wasn't really going quite right."
Because filming began two years ago this March, Ricci reveals that during reshoots, director Craven often showed the early sequences to the actors to make sure continuity was preserved. "If the case was you've exited the door in a scene that we shot five months ago and now it's the scene that happens right after, where you come through the door, then I would watch," she admits. "He would show us what we were following so we could kind of get back into that."
That said, however, the material itself works in fits and starts of both comedy and horror – a combination that could potentially kill (no pun intended) if played right. Ricci credits Craven with the film's oddball approach to genre material. "I think that was more Wes's decision later on," she says, referring specifically to one moment when one of the werewolves makes an unkind hand gesture. "A lot of that stuff, like the werewolf flipping the bird, that's not something we saw."
"We knew about it, but we didn't see it," she continues. "A lot of that stuff, the way you edit things, it ends up influencing the tone so much. I think that it's a scary movie and we went for it, and of course some things were meant to be funny." Eisenberg succinctly agrees: "Yeah, there was an emphasis on comedy," he says. "Scream did it the same way – it was able to bridge that gap easily and jump back and forth smoothly. And there's an emphasis on that in this."
While much of the film proved to be a fun challenge for the actors, Ricci and Eisenberg say they do regret the loss of some of their original co-stars, who dropped out due to commitments after principal shooting was completed. Eisenberg says, "I think the part that [Ulrich] was originally doing was eliminated essentially, he says of the changes. "So I think the interest for him, whatever that was at the time, may have not carried over to that new character." Ricci continues, "When we first were shooting, Skeet Ulrich was in the movie, and by the time they had reworked the script and everything, he didn't like the way his character had been changed. So, he didn't want to be involved anymore, and that was sort of sad. He was a love interest of my character; it was the three of us involved in a crash, and then he and I become attracted to each other. But the way it was rewritten, he just didn't feel like there was enough to make him really want to be in the second version."
At the same time, they admit that the fundamental change in their on screen relationship – namely, that they were made brother and sister – added immeasurably to the emotional weight of the film. "It kind of grounded it emotionally, whereas the first story was about strangers who meet and have to join together and stuff, which seemed to work, because I read the script and really liked the first one," Eisenberg says. "I think that worked as well, but I guess whoever's decision it was to change it didn't think it worked as well. But having a family as the focus of the movie, and the family suffers a loss – our parents had been killed prior to the movie – it certainly grounds it emotionally."
Eisenberg also says that he didn't mind the reshoots, particularly since he didn't feel like he did a great job to begin with. "I never feel that way, so I was kind of excited to get another shot at it," he says. "Actually, I think a lot of the stuff that I did in the first version was kind of retained. I think most of the stuff I had done was out of the context of the old story, so yes, so the stuff in the beginning – the stuff on Hollywood Boulevard – I think was there, and I think a more significant scene, the fight with the golden retriever, that was also retained." Part of that, he observes, was likely due as much to the expense of the footage as its potential impact on audiences. "I know that was important to keep because it's really exciting and also probably an expensive venture."
With this venture finally finished and finding its way into theaters this weekend, the pair are jokingly optimistic about the prospect of a sequel. "We start on the sequel next week, so we don't have a choice," says Eisenberg. Ricci continues, more seriously acknowledging the question, "these kinds of movies are really fun to make. I think as an actor sometimes you're in the mood to be really serious and do something really hard and thought provoking. But then the other side of it is, 'Oh, but I could just have a great time running around doing action-y types of things and being chased by something.'
"Or," she adds impishly, "I could do that in my spare time.
Christina Ricci Finds the 'Man Who Cried'
At 21, Christina Ricci is far older than her age suggests. In this exclusive interview, Ricci talked to Paul Fischer in Los Angeles.
Christina Ricci arrives a fashionably 45 minutes late for our interview. Casually attired sporting jeans and a small top, one notices that as diminutive and youthful she is, there is a brooding adult waiting to jump out. Her top partially masks a tattoo on her left shoulder and carrying a packet of cigarettes, Ricci wants it known that she is no longer the teen of yesteryear, insisting that "’I haven’t played a teenager in quite a while." Ricci is an actress who thrives on challenges, though, rarely playing the same character twice. In her latest film, Brit director Sally Potter’s 1930s-set The Man Who Cried, Ricci is cast as a Russian Jewish immigrant in search of her father. The actress won’t be drawn into the difficulties of being drawn into the spirit of a character who seems at opposite ends of this actress. "If you read a script and you don’t get the character by the time you’re done with it, then you shouldn’t be playing that part, so obviously I understood this character enough from the screenplay to play the part." Obviously. But what did she understand about this young woman, one further asks. "Well, you saw the movie. What did you understand by the end of the movie? Reading a script is the same thing. You get to experience what they go through. This is a person who’s had intense suffering in her life, but is still persevering and surviving and plotting ahead."
Perhaps Ricci had a greater affinity with this character after all. Coming from a split family, in therapy as a teenager and coping with adulation and fame from a young age, all of which has to have had its toll. Not to mention that, like Suzie in this movie, she had to do an awful lot of growing up relatively quickly. "I know that people think I did because I started acting as a child, but there’s a reason I started acting as a child." She was "always equipped to do this job. For some reason, the mentality that I’ve always had ever since I was a kid has always been one of being able to deal with a lot of pressure by not even comprehending that it is pressure or stress. I’ve never really taken anything that seriously in my life and a lot of that is the fact that I’ve always had a very easy life, so I don’t feel like I ever had to do that. Certainly, this character does. In a reasonably short period of time, she comes to really understand what’s going on around her and where her place is and what’s happened to her in the past, and that’s something that takes some people years and, of course, because it’s a movie, it must happen rather quickly and she really figures out her situation."
The Man Who Cried centres around a little girl (Claudia Lander-Duke) in the late 1920s who is driven from her home in a tiny Russian village and lands in Britain, given a new name, Suzie, and is forbidden from speaking or singing in Yiddish. Years later Suzie (now played by Ricci) gets a job as a dancer in Paris, surrounded by misplaced people like herself -- a chatty Russian flatmate (Cate Blanchett), a vain Italian tenor (John Turturro) and a Gypsy horseman boyfriend (a gold-toothed Johnny Depp). All the while Suzie carries with her memories of her long lost father (Oleg Yankovsky) who may be waiting for her in America. All of this as the Nazis are advancing through Europe. Susie is an outsider in this tale of misfits, and as Ricci herself has rarely played the Hollywood game, perhaps the actress sees herself in that light. "I’m a successful actress who lives in L.A. I don’t think I’m an outsider at all. It would be horrible for me to be like, ‘Yes, I’m plagued.’ No, no, I’ve been incredibly lucky in my life and I don’t feel like an outsider."
Surprisingly shy in real life, one of the appeals of this script, was its relatively limited use of dialogue. She is a listener here, very much an observer. "I like that very much. I find that most scripts are overwritten and you end up saying so many things as an actor. The camera is like a foot away from my face, like people aren’t going to read my expression and get what’s happening? We have to drive it in by a terribly heartfelt line of dialogue? It seems to me like so many times I end up arguing over dialogue and how it’s a little too expository." Christina doesn’t shy away from an argument. "I end up arguing a lot with people over dialogue." In particular the bigger Hollywood movies, "which are usually the ones that aren’t written as well, so you end up fighting a lot more on those." Ricci has no time for any director who won’t listen. "Filmmaking should be a collaborative experience. You get some crazy egomaniacs who feel that because they’re the director that everyone should listen to what they say and enjoy doing what they’re told to do, so some people don’t respond well, but those are usually the people who don’t have a lot of experience. The more experience you get, I think, the more you realize that you’re going to work with tons of different people and lots of people don’t agree with you, some people do agree with you and there’s an ongoing argument all the time on sets."
One has the distinct impression that Ms. Ricci does not suffer fools gladly. She can’t abide stupidity from any quarters, including the press. Recently asked about her views on pornography, she gave a sarcastic retort which was then misinterpreted. "That guy was strange and sarcasm is all I had left. I come from a family that thrives on sarcasm."
On The Man Who Cried, Ricci works for the third time with pal Johnny Depp. The difference this time around, is that they that some tough sex scenes together "by just laughing about it. What are you going to do? We had strange, theoretical sex scenes in this movie. They’re violent and awkward and just strange. There’s no sexual tension between us whatsoever, so we just kind of laughed." But dealing with on-screen sexuality is not one of her favourite things. "I don’t think you really deal with sexuality onscreen. There are like 50 people watching you and you’re just like, "Uh, I hope my ass looks good." There’s no deep dealing with sexuality. Physically, it’s just embarrassing, really. There’s no other way to put it. It’s embarrassing."
Yet for her next film, the much anticipated Prozac Nation, Ricci did her first nude scene. "The director and I had decided to do it [because] we felt that it was important for the movie and the movie, in and of itself, is just so exploitive of me. Exploitive always has such a negative connotation, but there are some situations in which you exploit everything that you have and I did for that movie so, to me, it seemed like, why not exploit me physically as well?" Based on the best-selling book by Elizabeth Wurtzel, Ricci, who is also the film’s co-producer, was drawn to it immediately. "The book was amazing. When you think about it, one of the main problems that people suffering from clinical depression have is that it’s not an illness that is easily explained to people who don’t suffer from it. There’s the whole typical thing that we’ve heard a million times that, you can’t just get up out of bed from it and you can’t just shake it off and keep going. People really don’t understand that fully, so when I read the book, she managed to make you feel depression and make you feel the heaviness and the weight of it and at least kind of understand it a little bit better. I thought that if we could do that with the film, it would be such an amazing thing." Asked whether or not Ricci, who has undergone therapy, could identify with the material, the actress pauses reflectively. "This is a real person’s story. This is what Elizabeth Wurtzel went through. This is her story and I felt that [she was] so eloquent in telling their story and also in giving you a perspective where you could see all the bad things about her as well as the good things. I also feel that talking about my experiences takes away somewhat from the story of the film. I’m sure at some point we’ll do an expose interview and you can read all about it."
Christina, who works extensively in independent film, has her production company and uses it to develop films that continue to extend her capabilities. Appropriately, it’s called Blaspheme Films, a title that is significant to this irreverent actress, saying that it partially stems from "the fact that people decided what I was without knowing me. Just the idea that you take something that’s outwardly offensive and you think that it really is offensive all the way down to its core, just like a word. Like God really cares what we say, as opposed to what’s in our hearts, so I’ve always thought blasphemy was a ridiculous concept, but that’s, of course, me being a really obnoxious teenager. I named it when I was like 17, so I took out my soap box."
Now she can utilise that soap box as one of Hollywood’s youngest producers, a job she takes more seriously the older she gets. "I think before I really didn’t like the idea of having any responsibility. I liked being an actor because I liked acting, but also I felt that if a movie was horrible, no one would ever blame the actors. If you’re bad, it’s your fault, so I always shied away from any other kind of responsibility. With producing, you take a little bit more responsibility, but directing, I think you’re ultimately screwed if the movie’s bad, so I’m still kind of safe with the producing side." Directing is not on Ricci’s agenda any time soon. After all, she says, "I don’t think I’m ready for that kind of trauma."
Ricci Can Relate to 'Joey'
Christina Ricci, who will soon be seen fighting werewolves in movie theaters, will also drop in on "Joey" later this month.
Ricci will guest-star on the Thursday, Feb. 24 episode of the NBC sitcom, playing Joey's (Matt LeBlanc) sister Mary Teresa. Visiting Joey and her sister Gina (Drea de Matteo) in Los Angeles, Mary Teresa won't let her siblings forget that she's become a socialite and that she's loaded.
Laughs will presumably ensue.
The guest spot -- one day before the release of her latest film, the Wes Craven werewolf movie "Cursed" -- is a fairly rare one for Ricci, whose previous series work consists only of a "Malcolm in the Middle" guest appearance and a recurring part on "Ally McBeal" in 2002.
She also may not the first actress to play Mary Teresa. Mimi Lieber is credited as playing Joey's sister "Mary Therese" in the "Friends" episode "The One Where Chandler Can't Remember Which Sister," which aired in 1997.
In addition to "Cursed," Ricci's recent movie work includes "Monster," opposite Oscar winner Charlize Theron, Woody Allen's "Anything Else" and the indie film "Pumpkin."
'Prozac Nation' Delay Depresses Christina Ricci
The Hollywood version of cult novel Prozac Nation has had its release date put back again - damaging its Oscar chances and infuriating star Christina Ricci. The film - a pet project of the Sleepy Hollow actress - started filming in May 2000, but has had its release date postponed a number of times following the September 11 atrocities. Now the flick's release has been pushed back to April, way after the cut-off point for next year's Academy Awards. Christina is reported to be "very annoyed" about the developments, especially considering the buzz around the female performances in the film. A source says, "It has Christina, Jessica Lange and Michelle Williams giving some of the best performances of their careers." Prozac Nation tells the story of a young woman - played by Christina - and her fight with depression during her first year at Harvard University.
Christina And Michelle's Past Life Revelation
Actresses Christina Ricci and Michelle Williams were destined to work together and become great friends - they're slave sisters in a former life. The two pals visited a psychic during a break from filming the movie Prozac Nation in Canada and were stunned when the spiritualist insisted they were sisters. Williams says, "There was a strange, weird, innate kind of understanding between me and Christina. We talked to this psychic who told us that we were sisters in a past life, and that we were slaves of some sort, but we escaped together, and Christina masterminded the escape."