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Christina Ricci tried -- and failed -- to fit Hollywood's mold. Lucky us

Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

A: I am a small woman who apparently is adorable to people who like to touch me and not take me seriously and like to assume I'm stupid before I open my mouth. And I'm an actress who didn't go to college, so I must be really dumb. But I can't be directly hostile or directly confrontational. I deal with my anger in a very passive-aggressive way as well when I'm out in public or in the streets or dealing with someone in the parking lot who's cut me off. So I very much related to that, and I love the idea of getting to show that because I don't feel like I've ever played anything where I got to show that manifestation of rage.

Q: Yet she's also a sociopath whose manipulation and ruthlessness serve her well in a live-and-let-die setting.

A: The pack is not wrong to shun her. They sense there is something wrong with her, which is why she's not allowed into the fold. It is a really great, fair, complicated character because you kind of empathize with the fact that she's always wanted to be accepted and never has been. But then she shows you exactly why she's not accepted and invited to the party.

Q: And her unfortunate sense of style doesn't help endear her to the crowd.

A: Sammi [Hanratty, who plays the younger version of Misty] and I have both talked about this. When we put on the glasses and the wigs, all of a sudden people would start treating us differently. People would start teasing me and making corny jokes, dismissing me. I was no longer important, and, in some cases, I was invisible, even though I was like No. 3 on the call sheet. It didn't matter. People react to seeing someone who so clearly has no social value and seems so innocuous. She and I talked about how it's so informative to be treated that way and to then apply that to playing a character that's been treated this way her whole life.

Q: From "Yellowjackets" to "Hacks" to "I May Destroy You" to "Never Have I Ever," the expressions of female anger are becoming more nuanced, varied and raw.

A: 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. 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."

Q: You've been acting since you were a kid and have played so many interesting and offbeat characters, but I'm assuming those roles were not easy to find. Now there are projects like "Yellowjackets." Have you and your castmates talked about the way things have changed for you as performers as the culture has changed?

A: We're very aware that we're getting to play more and more interesting characters because of the time where we are. We have 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."

 

Q: I assume you were deemed "difficult" when you didn't want to take on stereotypical roles. Was there ever a point where you thought of packing it in?

A: I've done this my whole life, so there's nothing else I'm really going to do. I've always felt that way. 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.

Q: What was the most challenging aspect of working on "Yellowjackets"?

A: Misty is a character who expresses herself in a way that people are unfamiliar with. Sometimes people would feel that what I was doing would not be recognizable because it wasn't traditional. "How do we know she's angry if she's smiling?" There would be discussions about making her more relatable, but I felt like, we're in a time and place now where you don't have to see yourself in the character to be interested or even sympathize. It was tough for me because I like to be bold, to make very strong choices and kind of ride the edge. Sometimes maybe it's too much. Finding that balance where people felt that she was still "relatable," while still being true to the character that I wanted to play, was difficult.

Q: The soundtrack of "Yellowjackets" is so fantastic, from Hole to Liz Phair to Salt-N-Pepa.

A: Mazzy Star is in there and some other great bands and songs that I forgot about. I was a big PJ Harvey fan as a teenager, and I actually lived in New Jersey up until 1994, and I was playing on a girls soccer team. That's totally what I was listening to and what I was doing. It's kind of funny.

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