In the history of moody and dark attractive girls stands Christina Ricci at the very center. Round beady eyes with a petite frame withstanding the force of her intelligently sized head, Ricci set the tone for weird-is-the-new-sexy along with black-will-always-stay-the-new-black for generations of moody and dark attractive girls to come. Frankly put, she is what you can call drop dead gloomy. And she’s kept that image a central element in the entirety of her career thus far.
Ricci grew up in the industry, with the first of her roles opposite Cher in Mermaids at the tender age of ten. It was ultimately her breakthrough role as Wednesday Addams of The Addams Family that captured the tone of her career. Stoic and terrifyingly serious for a young child, it was as if Wednesday was made for Ricci, and not the other way around.
And we keep rooting for her in all her precociously morbid glory, too. Several years after Wednesday Addams came Ricci as Kat Harvey in the celebrated childhood nostalgia-train film Casper, in which Kat moves into a haunted home with her after-life-obsessed father. Terrified at first, she eventually becomes smitten with the friendly eponymous ghost already habitating the same house. In the film, we see Ricci’s larger than life eyes bulge out of her peach-shaped face on her first encounter with Casper. We see those same eyes glisten as she cries watching her father forget who she is. And in the film’s sadly triumphant ending, we see the smallest hint of her smile that is strangely sweet enough in her sinister aura. Moody and dark yet oddly endearing? Check, check, and check.
But while the world pigeon-holed Ricci into complicated characters only, they still saw her charm audiences in lighter-edged films, as well. In 1995, we found Ricci in Now and Then – another nostalgic treasure like Casper but centering on coming-of-age within the framework of powerful female friendships. Ricci plays Roberta Martin, the earthy tomboy force of nature in a quartet of adorably adolescent girls growing into their own. But despite the doily frills of the film’s storyline, Ricci’s signature nihilism, of course, never leaves her. She is still the resident black cloud with her ambient coarseness – a maturity bomb that juts adulthood in her girlfriends like an unwelcome elbow to the side. In Now and Then, we see Ricci in a safe suburban American world of ethereal 90’s movies lighting and pink. We also see that she is, ultimately, still her.
Time has passed since then and, like all things, Ricci grew up. She continued with stranger roles including a stint in master-of-strange-things Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow opposite Johnny Depp, while traipsing through murkier shades of complicated people as a serial killer’s sidekick in Monster. Yes, Ricci grew up. But she stayed the same.
Published by Dara Kim