In 2014, Ricci played the title character in Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, a Lifetime film inspired by the true story of Borden, who was tried and acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother in 1892. She reprised the role—and received her first executive producer credit—in 2015 for the eight-part television series The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, which received generally positive reviews; Jane Borden of Vanity Fair called it "playful, wicked brain candy," adding that "Ricci was born to play [a] 19th-century ax murderer." Writing for The New York Times, Neil Genzlinger described Ricci as "gleeful and ruthless," while Keith Uhlich of The Hollywood Reporter felt that she and co-star Clea DuVall had "a delectable rapport not too far removed from Bette Davis and Joan Crawford at their hag-horror peak in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?", adding: "There's a winking self-consciousness to [Ricci's] portrayal of Lizzie that works to the character's advantage; she's like an out-of-time avenging angel, a feminist icon (before there were words to describe it) lashing out at patriarchy the only way she knows how". Ricci went on to receive a nomination for the 2016 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries.
In the 2018 psychological thriller Distorted, Ricci starred opposite John Cusack as a woman suffering from bipolar disorder. The film received a mixed reception from critics, who cited Ricci's performance as a highlight. Her next film projects were The Matrix Resurrections (2021), in which she re-teamed with the Wachowskis to play a colleague of Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves), and the 2022 supernatural thriller Monstrous, where she starred as a mother trying to protect her son from evil forces in 1950s California. In their review of the latter, Screen Rant said of Ricci: "The key to this film's success rests on [her] shoulders … She can play into the darling quaint lifestyle of a 50s woman and then let out a shrill scream of fear and terror that can put most scream queens to shame. But her natural gift is her ability to act with her eyes; a single glance, a slight twitch, or a dead-on stare do more to communicate [her character's] feelings and situation than any piece of dialogue in the script. To that end, Monstrous utilizes [her] talents brilliantly."
Christina Ricci (/ˈriːtʃi/ REE-chee; born February 12, 1980) is an American actress. Known for playing unusual characters with a dark edge, Ricci works mostly in independent productions, but has also appeared in numerous box-office hits. She is the recipient of Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and Primetime Emmy Award nominations.
Ricci's big-screen debut was in 1990's Mermaids, where she co-starred as Kate Flax, the little sister of Winona Ryder's Charlotte and youngest daughter of Cher's Rachel. She also appeared—alongside her co-stars—in the music video for "The Shoop Shoop Song", which featured on the film's soundtrack. The following year, Ricci appeared as the morbidly precocious Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family, Barry Sonnenfeld's big-budget adaptation of the cartoon of the same name. She reprised the role for the 1993 sequel, Addams Family Values. Both films were financially profitable, grossing over US$300 million between them. Critics singled out Ricci's performance as a particular highlight of Values, with Variety believing she brought "a depth to her character well beyond her years".
In 1997, Ricci starred in the Disney remake of That Darn Cat, which was a moderate success at the box office. Later that year, she made a shift into "legitimate adult roles" with her portrayal of the troubled, sexually curious Wendy Hood in Ang Lee's critically acclaimed art film, The Ice Storm. The part was originally given to Natalie Portman, who pulled out when her parents decided that the material was too provocative. In his review for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers wrote, "The sight of the [film's] young stars ... fiddling with each other may shock '90s prudes, but Lee handles these moments with dry wit and compassion ... The adolescent members of the cast do their characters proud, with Ricci a particular standout. Her wonderfully funny and touching performance, capturing the defiance and confusion that come with puberty, is the film's crowning glory."
In 1999, Ricci starred for a second time with Johnny Depp, in Tim Burton's gothic fantasy-horror film Sleepy Hollow. The film was a commercial and critical success, and Ricci received that year's Saturn Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Katrina Van Tassel. On December 4, 1999, Ricci appeared as the guest host on Saturday Night Live, and performed parodies of Britney Spears and the Olsen twins. During one of her skits, she accidentally punched actress Ana Gasteyer in the face. Other film appearances around this time included the New Year's Eve-set comedy 200 Cigarettes (1999); supernatural horror film Bless the Child (2000), where she played the drug-addicted younger sister of Kim Basinger; and The Man Who Cried (2000), in which she co-starred again with Depp—their third time working together—as a Jewish girl fleeing Soviet Russia. Critic Elvis Mitchell described her as "transfixing" in the latter, while Rolling Stone felt that her "dark-eyed loveliness" conveyed a "lifetime of sadness." In 2001, Ricci headlined Prozac Nation, a drama based on Elizabeth Wurtzel's best-selling memoir. The film—Ricci's first outing as a producer—received mixed reviews, but critics agreed that Ricci was the highlight, with Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine describing her as "splendid."
In 2003, Ricci took on the roles of a young amnesiac wandering through England on foot in the British horror film The Gathering; the former girlfriend of an up-and-coming movie star in Adam Goldberg's I Love Your Work; and that of a vain, vindictive love interest in Woody Allen's Anything Else, where she co-starred with Jason Biggs. In his review of the latter, A. O. Scott of The New York Times described the film as an "antiromantic comedy," and said that Ricci played her role with "feral, neurotic glee."
In 2005, Ricci provided vocals for "Hell Yes", a track from the album Guero by American singer-songwriter Beck. Also that year, she headlined the Wes Craven horror film Cursed, which gained notoriety for its troubled production history. The following year, Ricci appeared as a paramedic in two episodes of Grey's Anatomy, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. Next, she played the title character in Penelope (2006), a romcom based on the legends of pig-faced women. The role required Ricci to wear a prosthetic nose: "We had a couple different noses that they tested at one point ... this really hideous, awfully unattractive snout [and] then there was this really cute Miss Piggy snout ... we ended up meeting somewhere in the middle." Empire called the film a "lovely fairy tale," while Andrea Gronvall of The Chicago Reader felt it was "a worthy vehicle" for Ricci. Similarly, David Rooney of Variety felt that Ricci gave "the fanciful script more grounding than it might otherwise have had," and critic Eric D. Snider said it was "fun to see her in the most light-hearted role she's played since... well, almost ever."
Due to public backlash after PETA named Ricci on their 'Worst Dressed' list in 2006 for wearing reindeer fur on the cover of W, Ricci announced that she would stop wearing animal fur altogether. In response, PETA removed her from the list.
On television, Ricci appeared as Liza Bump in the final season of Ally McBeal (2002), and had a guest role on Grey's Anatomy in 2006, for which received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress. She also starred in the ABC series Pan Am (2011–12), and produced and starred in the series' The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (2015) and Z: The Beginning of Everything (2017). In 2021, Ricci began playing Misty Quigley on Showtime's Yellowjackets, for which she received her second Emmy nomination, this time for Outstanding Supporting Actress. In 2022, she appeared as Marilyn Thornhill in the Netflix series Wednesday.
Ricci has been the national spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) since April 25, 2007. She wrote an article for The Huffington Post in 2009, where she spoke about how her work with the organisation had affected her: "[Victims] tell me of the struggles they face every day", she said, "and the hurdles they've had to overcome".
Ricci began dating comedian and actor Owen Benjamin in 2008 after they met on the set of the film All's Faire in Love. They became engaged in March 2009, but ended the engagement two months later.
In 2009, Ricci appeared in three episodes of TNT's Saving Grace during its second season, as a detective who teams up with Holly Hunter's lead character. Also that year, she co-starred with Liam Neeson in the psychological thriller After.Life, with Fangoria stating that she embodied her character—a teacher who dies in a car accident—"in compelling fashion." Next, Ricci made her Broadway debut in Donald Margulies' play Time Stands Still, opposite Laura Linney. Her first public performance was on September 23, 2010, at the Cort Theatre. While she admitted to suffering from extreme stage fright during the show's four-month run, The New York Times described her portrayal of Mandy as "confident" and "appealing."
In 2010, Ricci made her Broadway debut in Time Stands Still. She is the national spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). She married hairdresser Mark Hampton in 2021 and the couple have two children.
In February 2013, Ricci announced her engagement to dolly grip James Heerdegen, whom she met while working on the series Pan Am in 2012. They married on October 26, 2013, in Manhattan. They have a son, born in August 2014. On July 2, 2020, Ricci filed for divorce after almost seven years of marriage. In her divorce filing, Ricci stated that she was subjected to "severe physical and emotional abuse" by Heerdegen and that "many of these acts of abuse" took place in front of their son. The Los Angeles Police Department had previously responded to a call at Ricci and Heerdegen's Woodland Hills home on June 25, 2020. Heerdegen was not arrested, but Ricci was granted an emergency protective order against Heerdegen the day before she filed for divorce. The order prohibited any contact between the couple. In January 2021, Ricci was granted a Domestic Abuse Restraining Order against Heerdegen. In April 2021, Ricci was granted full custody of their son, while Heerdegen was given visitation rights.
Ricci has no formal acting training. "People explained things to me in very simple ways when I was a child on set", she said in 2012. "Then as I got older I started understanding things in more complicated ways and [created] my own mind games, methods and rules in my head". She later explained, "It's such a weird, completely internal [thing]. Every actor works in a different way … [Personally] I just take the script and I figure out a way to deliver what needs to be delivered".
Ricci played a kindhearted waitress in Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (2011), a comedy written by Adam Sandler. The film was universally panned by critics. Writing for Variety, Andrew Barker called it "one of the most astonishingly unfunny films of this or any other year," but commended Ricci, who he felt gave her role "more than it deserves." From 2011 to 2012, she starred as stewardess Maggie Ryan on the ABC drama series Pan Am, which was set in the 1960s and based on the iconic airline of the same name. The series garnered generally positive reviews, but, due to a decline in viewing figures during its initial run of 14 episodes, the producers decided not to proceed with a second season. In April 2012, Ricci returned to the stage, playing Hermia in an off-Broadway revival of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Ricci made her film debut at the age of nine in Mermaids (1990), which was followed by a breakout role as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family (1991) and its sequel, Addams Family Values (1993). Subsequent appearances in Casper and Now and Then (both 1995) established her as a teen idol. At 17, she moved into adult-oriented roles with The Ice Storm (1997), which led to parts in several independent features, such as Buffalo '66, The Opposite of Sex, Pecker (all 1998), Prozac Nation (2001), Pumpkin (2002), and Monster (2003). She also starred in 200 Cigarettes, Sleepy Hollow (both 1999), Anything Else (2003), Cursed (2005), Penelope (2006), and Speed Racer (2008). In 2021, she had a supporting role in The Matrix Resurrections.
In August 2021, Ricci and her boyfriend, hairstylist Mark Hampton, announced that she was pregnant with her second child. Two months later, on October 9, Ricci announced her marriage to Hampton. They have a child together, a daughter, born in December 2021.
Ricci told a journalist in 2022 that casting directors were often reluctant to place her in certain projects when she was younger: "At that time, I did a lot of indies because, in mainstream movies, there was still a lot of leading-lady standards that I didn't fall into". She told NME that same year: "My agents [used to say], 'We have to be so careful you don't become a character actress. If we're not careful, you're going to end up just like Jennifer Jason Leigh'. I was like, [but] 'I like her'. They were so afraid of me not being a leading lady, of me not being sexually attractive to people".
In March 2022, it was announced that Ricci had been cast in the Tim Burton-directed Netflix series Wednesday, detailing the school years of Wednesday Addams, who Ricci played previously in the 1990s. Ricci appeared as series regular Marilyn Thornhill, a botanical science teacher at Nevermore Academy. Speaking of her involvement with the project, she said: "I knew there would be comparison between the old [Addams Family] movies and Wednesday. That's a natural inclination. But the 'who was a better Wednesday?' thing is unreal. I loved being Wednesday. I'm very proud of that role … [but] I also think [series star] Jenna Ortega is amazing. She is so brave, so cool, and really doing the part justice. Wednesday is her part now". The show received critical acclaim and was a substantial ratings success when it premiered in November 2022.
In August 2023, Ricci starred as a frightened homeowner whose bedroom is haunted by a razor-clawed “Doja Devil” in the music video for "Demons," a song by American rapper and singer Doja Cat. Charisma Madarang of Rolling Stone described the video as "a stunning flex of macabre," noting its homages to various classic horror films.