Having worked in the entertainment industry since she was a child, when she appeared in the Cher-Winona Ryder movie Mermaids and in The Addams Family as Wednesday Addams, Christina Ricci has noticed that things are changing for women.
“We’re very aware that we’re getting to play more and more interesting characters because of the time where we are,” Ricci, now 41, told the Los Angeles Times in an interview, published Friday, about her new Showtime series, Yellowjackets. “[The cast has] discussed the way that things have changed just in terms of being an actress — what you’re allowed to request for yourself. A lot of the younger girls on this show are very much able to stand up for themselves and say, ‘No, I won’t do that. I don’t want to do that. I don’t like how I’m being treated.’ And to witness that, having been their age on film sets, was sort of like, ‘Oh, my God, this is amazing. So are we all allowed to do this?’ It’s so fun not to be hampered by all the traditional requirements that there used to be for female characters … in terms of what you are allowed to express as a working actress that would not throw you into the realm of “difficult.'”
Ricci herself was described that way as she avoided many mainstream roles and tropes, instead choosing to play more complicated characters, such as Dedee in 1998’s The Opposite of Sex and Rae in Black Snake Moan eight years later. Still, when asked, she said she never considered leaving the profession.
“I’ve done this my whole life, so there’s nothing else I’m really going to do. I’ve always felt that way,” Ricci said. “But there was definitely a period of time when I didn’t fit into anything that was being made. I was constantly being asked or having to go and audition for rom-coms and the things that were available for actresses in my age range, and I didn’t fit into any of them because, I don’t know, I’m just a different kind of actress. It was a very tough period of time. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the presence of mind that young women have right now. I tried very hard to change myself and make myself so that I would fit into those kinds of parts and movies, and it just never worked.”
She noted that her character on the series, which is about a girls soccer team whose plane crashes in the wilderness on their way to a tournament, forcing them to survive in the wilderness, has a lot of rage inside of her that she’s unable to show. It’s not unlike what Ricci remembers reading about women of the past.
“When I was a teenager, I read biographies of famous women, and they always seemed to have these mental breakdowns and they’d have to go to an insane asylum,” she said. “I was obsessed with this as a child. Like, ‘Wow, it’s really crazy that women just were going insane all the time!’ That’s what I thought. As I got older, I was like, ‘Oh, no, she was just having a normal reaction to her life but was not allowed to express rage, wasn’t allowed to express unhappiness.'”
One of Ricci’s co-stars is Juliette Lewis, another actress who began her career as a child star. She talked about the new show here: