Creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky: the opening tune to The Addams Family couldn’t better describe the roles star Christina Ricci has taken on since her career-defining turn in 1991 as Wednesday Addams when she was just a wee 11. More than two decades later, she’s racked up roles in a slew of morbid movies. The streak continues Saturday when she portrays one of history’s most famed and controversial accused ax murders, in Lifetime’s Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (8/7c).
Why the affinity for the outcasts of the world? “I think I’ve always been interested in playing people who are judged very harshly,” Ricci told New York Magazine in 2008. “I think that’s why I get those parts when I audition for them. I hate when people are judged and misunderstood.”
Just how did Ricci make the leap from pale and braided Wednesday to infamous spinster Lizzie? Let’s take a look at her other oddball, outcast roles.
1. The School Play It wasn’t the role that was creepy; it was how she got it. Vying for the lead in The Twelve Days of Christmas, Ricci worried another kid would be cast instead of her. So she nudged him until he hit her. When she told on him, the other kid lost the part, and Ricci officially got her start in the cutthroat world of showbiz.
2. Wednesday Addams in Addams Family Values (1993) Ricci was less inclined to star in community theater in this Addams sequel than she was in real life. In between trying to kill her new brother and trying to survive a serial killing nanny, Wednesday is reluctant to take on the role of Pocahontas in the camp musical. She finally agrees, and turns the production into a revolt of social outcasts.
3. Kat Harvey, Casper (1995) As the daughter of therapist to the departed, Ricci is tender as the love interest to a lonely ghost. Sadly, the paranormal romance is doomed from the start. The whole alive/dead thing? To say opposites attract would not be an understatement.
4. Wendy, The Ice Storm (1997) In her role as a sex-obsessed tween, Ricci raised some eyebrows and drew some headlines. The Ang Lee film was considered a breakout for a darkly sexual Ricci, a trope she would repeat in Buffalo ’66, The Opposite of Sex, and later, in Black Snake Moan.
Watch a clip of the real Lizzie Borden. Was she meek or a murderess?
5. Katrina Van Tassel, Sleepy Hollow (1999) Starring opposite Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane, Ricci’s damsel in distress turns out to have a scheming mother who fakes her own death and controls a ghost on horseback. The headless horseman pursues Katrina, but Crane puts an end to the curse that made the apparition possible and sends Katrina’s mother off to hell. Talk about mommy issues.
6. Cassie, The Gathering (2003) The thriller was a flop, but Ricci’s role was apropos of her past work. She plays a girl with amnesia who has visions of deadly future events. In death, she becomes a member of an exclusive, ghostly club of watchers who observe, and sometimes orchestrate, the world’s tragedies.
7. Ellie, Cursed (2005) After she and her brother get sliced by her werewolf boyfriend Jake (Joshua Jackson), Ellie begins to turn part vicious animal. She ultimately decapitates Jake, saving her bro (Jesse Eisenberg), and returning to full human.
Watch a clip of Lizzie Borden's relationship to her family:
8. Penelope, Penelope (2006) Playing the ultimate outcast, Ricci stars in this rom-com about a girl with “pig-face” disorder. That’s exactly what it sounds like. James McAvoy still falls in love with her.
9. Anna, After.Life (2009) Did Anna die in a car accident? Or does she just think she did, thanks to a scheming mortician (Liam Neeson) who ushers people into the afterlife? Apparently, no one cared either way; the thriller flopped.