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Christina Ricci's Best TV And Movie Roles

Christina Ricci has been working in Hollywood for over three decades now, and as expected, her acting resume runs both vast and deep. According to IMDb, Ricci has 89 onscreen acting credits as of this writing, including newer projects like "The Matrix Resurrections,"  the horror movie "Monstrous, and the sci-fi thriller "The Dresden Sun." While her career has had its ups and downs, Ricci has never stopped working since she first began in 1990.

The actress got her onscreen start with a guest stint on the sitcom "H.E.L.P.," and that same year made a splash with her movie debut in "Mermaids," opposite Cher and Winona Ryder. She became an in-demand child actor soon after, stealing scenes in family films like "The Addams Family," "Casper," and "Now and Then." Ricci utilized her atypical (for Hollywood) looks and sardonic personality to her advantage during her teens and 20s, choosing offbeat characters in movies like "The Opposite of Sex," "Pecker," "Monster," and "Black Snake Moan."

While Ricci has remained active in film over the last decade, she has been more present on television, where she has dazzled in leading roles in shows like "Pan Am" and the currently-airing "Yellowjackets," and in miniseries like "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles" and "Escaping the Madhouse: The Nellie Bly Story." Here are some of Christina Ricci's all-time best television and movie performances.

The Addams Family & Addams Family Values

Christina Ricci played smart, sarcastic, morbidly dark Wednesday Addams in both 1991's "The Addams Family" and its 1993 sequel "Addams Family Values," and she was so good that it is hard not to associate her with the role, even 30 years later. The Addams family movies were based upon the 1960s television show, itself based upon a cartoon, which followed the exploits of a gothic family of lovable weirdos. 

The youngest family member and only daughter of Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston), Wednesday and her brother Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) spent most of the first film bonding with an imposter pretending to be their uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd). Reviews for the film were mixed, but Ricci's performance was generally considered a highlight. "Best of all is the scene-stealing Christina Ricci, who plays Wednesday with the adorable, saucer-eyed disengagement of a demon child from Neptune," wrote Entertainment Weekly's reviewer. "Beneath her pigtails, Wednesday is every bit her mother's daughter — it's just that where Morticia likes receiving pain, Wednesday enjoys giving."

The second film again saw the family dealing with another menacing outsider – a serial killer named Debbie Jellinsky (Joan Cusack) – as well as a new baby, Pubert. It also shipped Wednesday and Pugsley off to a summer camp, where Wednesday was cast as Pocahontas in a Thanksgiving play, punished for non-compliance, led a full-on coup, and found her first boyfriend. "The cast is uniformly wonderful, with young Ricci providing a depth to her character well beyond her years," said Variety in their review of the second film.

Now and Then

Two years after "Addams Family Values," Christina Ricci starred in a pair of moderately successful family films – "Casper," based upon that friendly ghost we all know and love, and "Now and Then," a coming-of-age dramedy written by I. Marlene King, who would go on to develop the "Pretty Little Liars" television world. Ricci was good in both movies, but it was "Now and Then" that allowed her to better shine as a moody teen dealing with the death of a parent and the onslaught of unwanted puberty.

Ricci's character Roberta Martin was one of four girls at the center of "Now and Then," shown in flashbacks to the summer of 1970, and contrasted with present-day scenes of their adult counterparts (Rosie O'Donnell played Roberta as an adult). While audiences like the film far more than critics (see Rotten Tomatoes, where it has a 30% critic score and an 82% from audiences), they were much kinder to the young actors than the adult ones. Variety called it "a showcase for four fine actresses in their early teens" and legendary critic Roger Ebert said in his Chicago Sun-Times review that "the four young actresses ... are wonderfully talented."

The Ice Storm

Christina Ricci was fantastic in Ang Lee's 1997 drama "The Ice Storm," a vastly underrated movie that centered on two families during Thanksgiving weekend 1973, the Hoods and the Carvers. Ricci played Wendy Hood, daughter of Ben (Kevin Kline) and Elena (Joan Allen) Hood, who are busy fighting over Ben's affair with Janey Carver (Sigourney Weaver) and attending a neighborhood "key party." With no supervision, Wendy heads over to the Carvers to see their son, Mikey (Elijah Wood), who has left the house in the ice storm. Since her usual paramore is not around, she instead gets naked and drinks vodka with his younger brother Sandy (Adam Hann-Byrd).

"The Ice Storm" is dark and depressing (Mikey dies when out in the storm), but also beautifully crafted and acted. And while it would be easy to be overshadowed by the heavyweight adult actors in the film, Ricci more than holds her own. Variety said, "the kids are excellent, with Ricci nicely adding an emotional dimension to her patented caustic teen perf," while Newsweek called Ricci "touching, funny and a little scary" as precocious, sexually aggressive Wendy.

Buffalo 66

At the height of her popularity in the late 1990s, Christina Ricci appeared in 13 films between 1997 and 1999. Seven of these came out in 1998, an especially big year for the actress, including "Pecker," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," and "Desert Blue." One of these films, "Buffalo 66," is amongst Ricci's best — a dark crime comedy about a man named Billy Brown (Vincent Gallo), who has recently been released from prison. Billy kidnaps a young woman (Ricci as Layla) and forces her to pose as his wife for the benefit of his parents, and the two end up falling for each other.

"Ricci is perfectly cast as the fleshy and nurturing Layla, playing her as a kindred spirit to Billy's package of damaged emotional goods," wrote the Washington Post's movie critic. Other critics were equally enchanted, with Time calling Ricci "just lovely,"and the San Francisco Chronicle calling it "another amazing performance" from the young star. "Christina Ricci is like a soloist who occasionally stands up and takes the spotlight while the other players recede into the shadows, nodding and smoking," wrote Roger Ebert in his review.

The Opposite of Sex

"The Opposite of Sex" was another 1998 film from Christina Ricci, and one in which she turned out a dynamic, exciting performance different than any she had before. She plays pregnant teenager Dedee Truitt, who moves in with her gay half-brother Bill (Martin Donovan) and his partner Matt (Ivan Sergei) after the death of her stepfather. She then seduces Matt and convinces him that he is the father of her unborn child. Matt and Dedee then run off and elope, but not before Dedee steal's $10,000 and Bill's dead ex-lover's ashes. Bill and his friend Lucia (Lisa Kudrow) — who is the sister of the dead lover whose ashes have been stolen — then go on the hunt for Dedee and Matt, and Dedee's former boyfriend Randy (William Lee Scott), the real father of her baby, also resurfaces.

It is very much Ricci's film, and its success hinges on what the Austin Chronicle called her "great acting chops." And in his Chicago Sun-Times review, Roger Ebert said that Ricci is "the kind of actress who makes an audience sit up and take notice, because she lets us know she's capable of breaking a movie wide open." The National Board of Review gave Ricci the Best Supporting Actress honor for the role, and the actress was nominated for a Golden Globe award, an Independent Spirit Award, and an American Comedy Award. She also won the Satellite Award for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical.

Sleepy Hollow

In 1999, Christina Ricci went back to her inner Wednesday Addams and drew on her gothic roots when she appeared in Tim Burton's supernatural horror movie "Sleepy Hollow." The movie focuses on Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp), an 18th century constable who is called from New York City to investigate a series of decapitations that are believed to have been done by a deadly apparition known as The Headless Horseman. While in Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod is being boarded by the Van Tassel family, headed by rich famer Baltus (Michael Gambon) and his second wife Mary (Miranda Richardson). Ricci plays Baltus' daughter Katrina, who is dating egotistical Brom Van Brunt (Casper Van Dien) but becomes involved with Ichabod (and entangled in the mystery).

The New York Times reviewer wrote that, "Katrina is played photogenically by Christina Ricci, who gets through the film gamely while remaining very much a sardonic creature of her own time." And while "Sleepy Hollow" does sometimes venture into predictable territory, it is a beautifully shot film. It was also cool to see Ricci play against-type and less sarcastic than usual, in a role that earned her a Blockbuster Entertainment Award, a Saturn Award, and nominations at the Teen Choice Awards and Young Artist Awards.

The Laramie Project

Christina Ricci was focused on film for the vast majority of her early career, but in 2002, participated in an ensemble TV movie called "The Laramie Project." Based on a play of the same name, the HBO film focused on the aftermath of Matthew Shepard's murder in Laramie, Wyoming (Shepard was a gay man who was murdered in a hate crime). Ricci appeared as Romaine Patterson, a close friend of Shepard's at the time of his death.

Few professional reviews exist for the television film, but the ones that do note Ricci as one of the breakout stars of the large ensemble. For instance, TV Guide praised Ricci, who they said had "one of the punchiest roles as Romaine Patterson, Shepard's fiery lesbian best friend." Variety also called Ricci one of the "notable" performers in the film, which is one of a number of movies focused on Shepard's life. "The Laramie Project" was one of many 2002 projects for Ricci, who followed up her performance with the films "Pumpkin," "Miranda," and "The Gathering," as well as a seven-episode guest arc on the wildly popular "Ally McBeal."


Everyone knows "Monster" as the movie that won Charlize Theron her (much-deserved) Oscar, but Christina Ricci also turned out a fine performance in the 2003 biographical drama. Theron played murderous sex worker Aileen Wuornos, who murdered seven of her clients in 1989 and 1990. Ricci played Wuornos' lover Selby Wall, whom she meets at a Daytona Beach gay bar in the film. Selby eventually realizes Aileen is a serial killer, and later testifies against Aileen at her trial.

There is no denying the force that was Theron in "Monster," but it is a shame that focus was so much on Theron that Ricci was overlooked for her performance. Not everyone got it, but those who did were quick to offer praise. "Christina Ricci finds the correct note for Selby Wall — so correct some critics have mistaken it for bad acting, when in fact it is sublime acting in its portrayal of a bad actor," wrote the Chicago-Sun Times film critic extraordinaire Roger Ebert. "She plays Selby as clueless, dim, in over her head, picking up cues from moment to moment, cobbling her behavior out of notions borrowed from bad movies, old songs, and barroom romances."

Blake Snake Moan

After an Emmy-nominated guest performance in an episode of "Grey's Anatomy," Christina Ricci appeared in three films in 2006 – "Penelope," "Black Snake Moan," and "Home of the Brave." Of these, only "Black Snake Moan" remotely capitalized on Ricci's immense talents. The movie is a (very) black comedy in which Ricci plays a nymphomaniac named Rae Doole who is discovered on the side of the road by religious farmer and former bluesman, Lazarus Redd (Samuel L. Jackson). Once he realizes Rae is a sex addict, Lazarus holds her captive and deems it his duty to cure her of her wicked behavior.

Ricci does incredibly good work her as a woman whose past childhood trauma informs her current-day sexual decisions. "The movie belongs to Ricci, who despite her doll-like physique dominates the screen with a fearless, vanity-free performance," wrote the Washington Post's film critic. The Daily Forty Niner even went so far as to call Ricci Oscar-worthy. And though the movie received mixed reviews, other critics also praised Ricci — calling her "better than ever" (via The Austin Chronicle) and "the right actor for the role" (via The Chicago-Sun Times).

Pan Am

We will never know exactly what Christina Ricci could have given us with "Pan Am," since ABC canceled the show after only half a season. But we do know that "Pan Am" was an inventive and enjoyable period drama, and that Ricci was great in the 14 episodes that did air. The show revolved around a group of stewardesses (who would now be called flight attendants) in the 1960s Jet Age, all working for the now-defunct Pan American World Airways. Ricci's character Maggie Ryan was a bleeding-heart bohemian who was recently reinstated after being suspended for not wearing a girdle, and who lied about knowing Portuguese to get the job as a purser.

Ricci's first starring role in a television series was interesting and her character Maggie had ideals that often did not align with her behaviors. For instance, uber-Liberal Maggie had an affair with a Republican congressman she wrote a scathing expose about. Maggie also joined one of the pilots in smuggling alcohol and tobacco during flights, and consistently rebelled against the system, which gave Ricci much to do. Reviews were mixed, and the audience never bit, but like Entertainment Weekly, we found Ricci "engaging," and like the A.V. Club, we enjoyed "the cool, confident way Ricci carries herself in the role."

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles

Christina Ricci earned her only career Screen Actors Guild award nomination for her role in "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles," an eight-episode television miniseries that aired on Lifetime in 2015. It was a continuation of the Lifetime film, "Lizzie Borden Took an Ax," in which Ricci had starred the previous year. Borden is infamous for possibly murdering her father and stepmother with an axe in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1892 — a crime for which she was tried and acquitted. The fictionalized miniseries follows Borden's life post-acquittal.

Ricci portrayed Borden in the series, as she had in the television film, and much of the focus is on Borden and her sister Emma (Clea DuVall) attempting to move on amidst Borden's ruined reputation, their ostracism, and financial ruin. "Christina Ricci was born to play an 19th-century ax murderer, as it turns out," said Vanity Fair's reviewer, and The Hollywood Reporter praised the "winking self-consciousness" of her portrayal. Even those who did not love the series praised Ricci, such as The Wrap reviewer who proclaimed in her deck that "Christina Ricci Kills It, But Even Her Brand of Crazy Is Not Enough."

Z: The Beginning of Everything

Christina Ricci continued her television streak with "Z: The Beginning of Everything," a semi-biographical period drama focused on Zelda Fitzgerald. The series was a fictionalized version of the life of the socialite/writer, who was married to author F. Scott Fitzgerald. Ricci appeared as Zelda who, along with husband F. Scott (David Hoflin), partied too hard in 1920s New York City. The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "This is in every way a tailored star vehicle, but the actress throws herself fully into every scene, playing up Zelda's the-world-bows-to-me! aggressiveness, while always hinting at the aching, delicate spirit underneath."

The series begins with the courtship between Zelda and her eventual husband, and it covers the changes the Southern Belle undergoes — both physically and psychologically — after they marry and she begins to integrate into his world. "Ricci commits to the role like it's the role of a lifetime, and honestly, that might be the case," wrote IndieWire's reviewer. "It's certainly not hard to imagine her scoring a few nominations for this performance." Sadly, the Amazon Studios show lasted only one season (though it was originally renewed for a second season before Amazon rescinded the renewal) and Ricci earned no honors.

Percy Vs Goliath

"Percy Vs Goliath," which sometimes goes under the title "Percy," is a lovely biographical drama about Canadian canola farmer Percy Schmeiser, played by Christopher Walken, and the lawsuit he filed against agrochemical company Monsanto. Percy was accused of thievery for supposedly using the company's patented seeds, and he joined forces with attorney Jackson Weaver (Zach Braff) to take on the company, whose GMOs had contaminated one of his crops. Christina Ricci plays Rebecca Salcau, an anti-GMO activist from the People's Environmental Protect who helps Percy in his quest for justice.

While her role in "Percy Vs Goliath" is more straight-laced and straightforward than many of her others, Ricci does a good job as an environmental activist lobbying against Big Agra. The New York Times proclaimed that Ricci and Braff "enliven the movie," and The Toronto Star said that Ricci, Walken, and Braff all "elevate the script." Variety called Ricci's performance "feisty," and they also likened her to Reese Witherspoon in a way that we think (but are not sure) was a compliment.


In 2021, Christina Ricci is getting much attention for her starring role in the new television series "Yellowjackets." The Showtime show is about four high school soccer players who survive a devastating plane crash circa 1996. The series traces both their time as teenager, stranded in the Ontario wilderness and desperate to survive, as well as their lives as adults in the current day. Ricci plays the adult version of Misty, the team's student manager who goes from bully to leader in the face of the tragedy.

In the adult timeline, Misty is hospice nurse who is depicted as incredibly manipulative and cold-blooded, which has allowed Ricci to really sink her teeth into the complex role. "As an ever-lonely and calculating Misty, Christina Ricci toes the line of maniacal without crossing over into full camp as could easily be the case," said Variety in their review. And in their rave review, IndieWire wrote that, "Ricci is equally wonderful to watch, giving a Patrick Bateman-level turn with a smile and deep-seated psychopathy that is terrifying."