Christina Ricci first came to the public's attention as Winona Ryder's cute little sister in Mermaids but it wasn't long before she was stealing the show as the full-of-woe Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family and Addams Family Values , scowling as she asked whether the girl scout cookies were made from real girl scouts.
Child stardom is a difficult path. Drew Barrymore seemed lost forever on the drug-strewn road for a good few years, and Macaulay Culkin seems to be caught perpetually on the last mile, but more and more young stars such as Kirsten Dunst, Thora Birch and even Hilary Swank are successfully making that transition from child star to successful adult performer in their own right. Ricci was at the forefront of these 'bright young things'. Her dark mocking eyes and pale skin, not to mention her clipped sardonic delivery, have been a blessing as she courted the more interesting roles that have brought her critical acclaim and made her well and truly ensconced into the indie-set. Her work includes The Ice Storm, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, Buffalo 66, Pecker, The Opposite of Sex - all staples of the serious film buffs DVD collection - and will soon be seen in The White Rose , with Albert Finney and Liam Neeson.
But, for the time being, Christina Ricci is back on the big screen playing a character that follows the slightly off-kilter humorous horror trajectory that has peppered her career. Wednesday Addams, who was hideous when she finally smiled, has also been the playmate of Casper the Ghost, and the bewitching Cassandra whose ethereal strangeness cast a spell over Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow.
In Wes Craven's Cursed , Ricci heads down the moonlit road of the B-movie to play Ellie, a teenager who, along with her nerdy brother Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg), quite literally bump into something big and hairy while out driving at night. Unfortunately, that something just happens to be a werewolf, keen for food, and more than happy to pass on its lycanthropic legacy. This isn't as bad as it seems at first - his new superhuman powers transform Jimmy from zero to hero with the girls - but to stop themselves turning hairy and going on a food spree at the next full moon, said teenagers must seek out their assailant and kill it.
There have been rumours of a production beset with problems. Indeed, the film has infamously been shed of the gore element so as to receive a PG-13 rating in America . However, notwithstanding the obvious call for a director's cut, Cursed is a humorous nod to schlocky horror that should find a fan base with the audience its been tailored for.
Says Ricci: "I wanted to do something a bit lighter. I thought it would be fun to do a big horror film in LA for three months. I'd just been away for two months in Orlando and I just thought it would be great. I thought it would be fun. . I guess The Ring had already come out before and I guess it was really big. I just wanted to, I just thought it would be fun. People make me aware of box office things but other than that I don't really pay attention."
Despite her intense on-screen persona, Ricci is a refreshingly normal young woman who doesn't carry much weight for the whole Hollywood showbiz thing. She says: "I hang out with friends. I like going to dinner. We watch a lot of movies on DVD at home. It's sort of a quieter life. I mean I did do the whole crazy party teenager thing for a while. I mean I did live in New York for two years."
"It's not that much fun to go to those [ Hollywood ] parties. You end up having to schmoose and be on your best behaviour because it's industry people and then someone's gonna take your picture and I'm kind of shy. If it's my premiere or something then it's work and I know exactly how to behave and what I'm supposed to be doing. But if it's just like somebody else's party I don't know what to do."
Ricci doesn't come from an acting dynasty and, despite being accepted, she chose to eschew university as it coincided with the interesting adult roles starting to come in. Her film education has been on the set, learning from the canon of performers and directors she's worked with, people that include Ang Lee, Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, John Waters and Woody Allen. However, it's back to the Addams Family where she learned most of her trade.
"I think I've had a great time so far," She says. "Yeah I have had a chance to work with so many wonderful talented people..Um. I kind of learned from the best as a kind - just working with such incredible talent like Raul Julia and Anjeli c a Huston. Really learning how to behave on a set because of them and I feel incredibly lucky because of that."
"I think when I was a child Anjelica Huston had a huge hand in giving me advice and hooked me up with the agent I have had forever now, for fourteen years."
Today's slew of teenage stars such as Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff would fare well listening to the advice of a seasoned performer who successfully veered the same route before them. Considering how the climate has changed, Ricci says: "I think the kind of attention that's paid to those types of people these days is so much more intense than when I was their age and so I don't know how they deal with that. I would just say, never pick up a magazine. I mean when I was a teenager I would never and still now I don't really like to read any of the articles. I don't like to read too much about reviews or what people think of me. Because a normal person wouldn't have that much input on who they were or what they were like so I feel like the best thing to do is to live your life as if these things weren't happening."
It's a philosophy that, at 25, has made her a much-respected movie veteran, destined to grace our screens for many years to come.
Cursed released on DVD by Buena Vista Home Entertainment