How Christina Ricci Chooses Her Characters and Why She Loves ‘Yellowjackets’

Christina Ricci shares how she picks her roles, what makes her characters unique and what she enjoys about playing the Misty in Yellowjackets.

Christina Ricci Yellowjackets

“I didn’t go to any school for acting or do any kind of training to become an actor… I just take the script and I figure out a way to deliver what needs to be delivered.” – Christina Ricci

Because she has bounced between high-profile productions and small independent films, it often seems like Christina Ricci disappears from the acting scene for periods of time — but in truth, she has worked steadily since making her film debut in the 1990 film Mermaids. Recently, Ricci was nominated for her second Emmy Award — her first as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series — for her role on the Showtime drama Yellowjackets. She spoke with Slant about her curious role on the series and how she manages to regularly choose strong material.

Her character in Yellowjackets, Misty, has a caring side because she is a nurse but is also very manipulative. Ricci says that drew her to the character, explaining, “I’m always interested in playing things that I haven’t seen before. Doing a version of something that’s new. And so when I read the script, I loved how specifically written Misty’s character was. She only had that one scene in the pilot, but what she does in that scene implies so many other things. So the idea of taking that character and extrapolating from that scene, I just felt like she was going to be such a fun, challenging, interesting character. And she proved to be.”

However, Ricci is quick to dismiss the idea that her performance as Misty is based on any particular method — mainly because she began acting at such a young age without formal training. She shares, “It’s such a weird, completely internal [thing]. Every actor works in a different way. Everybody is different in the way that they conjure those things. I didn’t go to any school for acting or do any kind of training to become an actor, so I don’t really have any kind of name for it, really. [As a child], it was a lot of just learning as you went. And for me, I just take the script and I figure out a way to deliver what needs to be delivered.”

In fact, Ricci points to her experience in independent film while she was a teenager as the main reason why she developed into an adult actor and didn’t just stay a child star. She says, “I got really lucky that, at the time, when I was 15, 16, 17, it was when independent film was just about to turn into the huge thing that it did. And they wanted to cast teenagers to play teenagers, which they weren’t really doing before. So that was something relatively new. And I was perfectly positioned at that time as this teenager. [Former child stars] have been working forever and actually could help [filmmakers] finance their movies, because of the box office I had from Addams Family and Casper and all those movies. So it was a really good time for me in terms of just being in the right place at the right time. And that helped me build my career because all the independent films. They were all serious, adult, real acting jobs.”

As to why she thinks she has been so lucky with her selection of compelling roles, Ricci admits that it’s not an exact science. She explains, “It’s different for different projects. Some you do because you really want to work with a director. Some you do because you love the story or the subject matter or the script in general. Sometimes it’s a character you’ve always wanted to play or something you didn’t know you wanted to play. Like, ‘Oh, wow, that would be amazing. I’m so interested in who that [character] is.’ But mainly what I do look for is playing characters that are really different than ones I’ve seen before. Having a different take on a character that I’ve seen before. I just try to do things that I think are interesting and different and challenging.”

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