Christina Ricci on playing gay in “Monster,” “The Laramie Project” and being de-gayed in “Now and Then”

Christina Ricci has been on our queer radar ever since she starred opposite the gay icon Cher in her first feature film Mermaids. This child star often played queerly constructed characters and, as she grew up, continued to take on roles that were often out of the norm, including alternative sexualities, relationships and personalities. As an adult, she continues to maintain a huge gay following and talked about that in an interview with The Advocate.

What comes across best is her openness and willingness to talk about anything with interviewer Brandon Voss. She tells the coming out story of her high school best friend and admits to having an affair with a man that was likely gay because he was beautiful. She’s also not shy about naming Eva Mendes as her girl crush, which would have probably been titillating even to her gay ex-boyfriend.

She also talks extensively about her numerous gay roles. Her most famous, Selby, opposite Charlize Theron in Monster was a brilliant portrayal, even if it took a backseat to Theron’s main character. Both actresses made dramatic physical transformations for the role of these lovers and Ricci gets a little bummed when she’s not recognized for that, although she knew that it was Theron’s passion project going in.

She also played lesbian activist Romaine Patterson in The Laramie Project, a film she requested to be a part of specifically because it was about homophobia and injustice. And when asked about how she approaches playing gay for the camera she answers, “I don’t think I approach gay characters any differently than I approach straight characters. To me, it’s like, this is who you’re attracted to, this is what you’ll wear, and this is what you’ll do in the movie.”

She also played the childhood version of Rosie O’Donnell in the feel-good coming of age movie Now and Then. She lovingly laughs at the incongruity of Ricci as an adult in comparison to O’Donnell, but the more interesting questions revolve around the character’s sexuality. The person she was based on was, indeed, a lesbian, and that does have a certain transparency by casting the out O’Donnell in the adult role.

But I wish The Advocate had spent a little more time discussing why the filmmakers told Ricci to, “… just play the shame any teenage girl has when discovering that she’s becoming a sexual being.” Even if this is the main focus of a teen girl’s story, her discovery as a sexual being is most certainly informed by her sexual orientation and it seems a mistake — and a homophobic one at that — to erase it completely from the outward dialogue of the film.

Since then, Christina Ricci’s career has taken a bigger turn. She will take her first Broadway bow opposite Laura Linney as naive event planner Mandy — a role Alicia Silverstone played earlier this year — in Donald Margulies’ Iraq war–themed drama Time Stands Still, which reopens Oct. 7 at the Cort Theatre.

But don’t hold your breath for an appearance in the musical version of The Addams Family. Although Wednesday is one of her as well as her fans’ favorite parts, Ricci says:

You know what’s really awful about me — and this probably isn’t going to win me any more gay fans — I really don’t like musicals. It’s one of the great shames of my life … I do like to sing, but nobody’s going to put me in a musical. It would have to be some sort of strange, indie rock musical, because that’s the only way to make sense of my brand of singing talent.

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