From our couches, we’re currently getting a front-row seat to something wonderful—and long overdue—on our screens. It’s the privilege of watching iconic actresses over a certain age sink their teeth into juicy, nuanced roles and deliver some of their most powerful performances to date. Christina Ricci, who is one of them, is thrilled.
“When I was younger, there was an idea of what a movie star should be,” she says. “I never wanted to play a leading lady. The whole idea of being an ingenue had a powerless connotation to it. I wanted to play dynamic characters that had agency, were proactive, and better reflected the people I saw in real life.”
Ricci was often discouraged from playing these types of roles—not that it stopped her. She transitioned from child star of the ’90s to indie darling in the 2000s, and while it wasn’t an easy road, it resulted in a body of work that, much like the characters she’s so drawn to, is unconventional and artistically adventurous.
“I was hopeful that as I got older, I would be considered for more,” she says, and that patience and persistence paid off. Now, in the latest act of her career, she’s on two hit series and audiences are delighting in watching her embody the strange and multifaceted personalities she plays so well. “The world has changed a little bit: There’s a lot more value in people being individuals.”
This shift has helped Ricci feel more secure not only in her uniqueness as an artist, but in herself outside the work. Despite the unaffected cool-girl persona many fans may associate her with, she says that at 43 she’s only recently started to feel truly comfortable in her own skin. Growing up in the public eye meant her physical appearance was constantly being scrutinized. “I remember being young and so insecure and obsessed with my body,” she says. “As you get older, I think people start to value different things about you—your talents, what you’re contributing. That allows you to appreciate those things as well.”
Looking back, Ricci says, many of the things she once felt self-conscious about seem pointless now. She tells younger co-stars to lean into what makes them different and irreplaceable (not that she thinks they really need her advice). “I tell them: ‘You are exactly who you’re meant to be. At the end of the day, it’s your experiences that you’ll remember.’”
A turning point on her journey to self-confidence was becoming a mom. “I was able to see my body as something more than an object to be looked at by other people,” she says. “It was capable of making such crazy changes, and then returning back to itself—I felt I could trust it to do what it needs to do.”
She’s also found confidence in self-care rituals. She likes to take daily baths (“the first thing I do in the morning”), and she stocks her bathroom with moisturizing body oils and lotions and scrubs that make her skin feel soft. “I’ve always been someone who’s done a lot of maintenance work,” she adds. “I take care of my skin and make the time to ensure that it’s healthy and nourished.”
She also keeps her skin smooth by getting regular waxes at European Wax Center. “I’ve been waxing since I was 20 years old,” she says. “I love that no matter what I need to put on for a shoot, I don’t have to worry—I’m confident.”
Ricci’s newfound assuredness hasn’t changed the sort of roles she gravitates toward; it’s just made her even more certain she’s been on the right path all along. “I feel more comfortable, accepted, and happy,” she says. “And now I can play totally crazy people whenever I want to.”
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Art Direction: Armine Altiparmakian & Sabrina Contratti; Creative Production: Hannah Miller; Talent: Jennifer McLawhorn; Styling: Cristina Ehrlich; Hair: Mark Hampton; Makeup: Allan Avendaño; Manicurist: Zola Ganzorigt; Local Production: Hyperion