Christina Ricci made her Broadway debut in the drama Time Stands Still, alongside Laura Linney, Eric Bogosian, and Brian d’Arcy James. Ricci very aptly plays the role of Mandy, the girlfriend-then-wife to Eric Bogosian’s Richard. (Alicia Silverstone originated the role in January.) The push-and-pull of Mandy is A) that she’s much younger and B) apparently much less intelligent than her romantic interest Richard (who she’s pictured with below). But it’s not as simple as that: As Melissa Rose Bernardo said in her A– review of the play, Mandy is “more than just a punchline,” and in many ways, Mandy represents the everyperson viewpoint versus the high-brow, overly cultured (and somewhat deluded) viewpoints of the show’s other three characters. Recently, Ricci—who is currently set to star in Time Stands Still through Jan. 23—phoned up EW.com to talk about just that — as well as why now was the perfect time for her Broadway debut, playing pregnant on stage, and how coincidental it is that she’s on the boards at the same time as The Addams Family, the franchise that originally helped her rocket to fame.About a month ago,
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’ve been a TV and movie star until now. What made now the right time for Broadway — and specifically Time Stands Still?
CHRISTINA RICCI: I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but I was just so scared of doing anything live for so long. But I think it’s one of those things that when I got older — I’m 30 now — I just grew out of it, that more crippling stage fright that I had when I was younger. So over the years, we’ve been looking for the right thing for me to do, and this came along, and my agent actually represents Laura, so she knew that there would be a part opening up. She knew that they were going to be holding auditions, so they sent me the play and I loved it.
Well, I certainly loved you in Time Stands Still, and I loved the play overall. But why do you love it?
I just loved the play so much, and I loved the character, too. I thought it’d be a great character for me to do, since I haven’t ever done anything like her before. I just didn’t feel as scared as I’ve felt before. And my agent knew how lovely Laura is, and knew that I would be in really, really good hands, which has turned out to be the greatest thing ever, because Laura couldn’t be a more wonderful person to work with. She loves theater, and she’s so gracious and amazing, and with the rehearsal period that we went through, I came in literally knowing nothing about how I was supposed to do this, and she was there for any questions that I had.
You said Mandy is a type of character you haven’t played before. How does she fit into the constellation of characters you have played?
I think the thing that I always try to do — because it piques my interest — is to play really different parts all the time. To me, it’s what’s fun about being an actress. So the idea that I would get to do something that people don’t necessarily think that I’m capable of — or that I don’t have that side to my personality — that’s really fun. And also, I kind of agree with Mandy in a lot of ways. I watch a million shows, and just like her, I’m like, “Stop taking pictures, call 911!”
Mandy is like the voice of the masses in a way — she says a lot of what people are thinking. The other three are sort of overly cultured, and Mandy brings this real-person point of view, which I really identified with. Do you agree?
That’s what’s so great about this play and why I think Donald [Margulies] does so well as a playwright. He has all of these characters concisely and eloquently represent different point of views and different choices that people make in life, and her character is outside of the world of art or politics. Because she’s younger, and because she doesn’t really know much about the world that they’re talking about, she has a much less jaded and much more objective view of the way that they’re living. I just relate to what she’s saying. I don’t think she really knows what she’s saying. Well, she does know what she’s saying, but I don’t think she would be able to identify that she’s pointing out the whole conflict of [whether] you have to suffer to be an artist, or can you be happy and be an artist, or is it more important to be happy than to be an artist, or is it more important to be an artist than to be happy? I think those are questions that people deal with, and her point of view is, Let’s do stuff that makes us happy. I understand that it can be seen as incredibly small-minded, but she’s sort of altruistic on a much more immediate level. I think one of the things that’s great about the play is that it is saying that everybody’s choices in life are valid, and however anybody chooses to live their life, what’s important is that they’re choosing things that make them happy and make their life worthwhile to them.
Have you contemplated what the title of the play might mean?
I don’t know; I think it could be a lot of things. It could be taking a snapshot of a moment of peoples’ lives or of Sarah’s life. We’re taking little moments of Sarah’s life that changed it or shaped it. Or it could be about how she feels when she takes her photos. All she does is live in the pictures, and maybe what he’s saying is that her choice in life is to live in that moment. There’s so many ways.
Your character Mandy is pregnant for a portion of the play. Uncomfortable?
It’s not so bad, really. They attach the fake belly onto one of those waist cincher things — like a Spanx-type corset. We just go up at intermission, and my dress is there, and they clip it on me and I’m pregnant. I was a little conscious of trying to remember that my sister had a baby almost two years ago, and I was trying to remember how she moved. I’ve never been pregnant, so you don’t want to have the belly on but be moving like you’re not pregnant, because in the scene where I am pregnant, I do move around a lot and pick up things.
But you have played pregnant before, right?
I have, actually. I was pregnant when I was 17 in The Opposite of Sex. I was pregnant in something else, but I can’t remember what it was.
Interesting point you make about having to know how to move while pregnant when you never actually have been pregnant.
Right, I think it’s so funny because I know that when I was 17, that thought did not cross my mind. When I was 17, I was probably like, “Whatever, do they move differently?” I had absolutely no respect for it at that age, and for that [film] I was pregnant in an entire movie! I can’t remember what it was, but I’m sure I’ve been pregnant since then. I wore a lot of corsets in my life, and I’ve found that it’s a similar thing, that I just can’t bend at the waist.
How odd is it that you’re debut on Broadway coincides with The Addams Family — a franchise that helped make you famous — being on Broadway?
I guess it does seem funny, but it feels like it’s a really, really different thing than the movie, so in some ways it feels very unrelated.
What’s next for you? More Broadway? Movies? TV?
I’m really open to everything. I love making movies — and now I’ve found that I love doing this also. Hopefully there will be more plays in my future, but I like TV, too. I’m one of those people who really like working, and I think it comes down to what you’re doing. When you’re doing something where you really like the material, it doesn’t matter what medium it’s in.
Do you sing at all? I was just thinking because if you continue to do stage stuff, there are always lots of singing projects.
I don’t. I mean, I sing. But I don’t think I’m a good enough singer to do any kind of musical. I think that’s for an especially strong voice and vocal talent, and I don’t think I have that.
More on Christina Ricci from EW.com:
Christina Ricci holds her own in re-opening of ‘Time Stands Still’ with Laura Linney
Stage Review: ‘Time Stands Still’