Thirty-five years into her acting career, Christina Ricci still feels picked on if people laugh at her character. While she’s played legendary roles from Wednesday Addams to Lizzy Borden, her ongoing performance as the intractable Misty Quigley on Showtime’s Yellowjackets has had audiences in stitches, even though that wasn’t Ricci’s intent.
In a recent acting roundtable for the Los Angeles Times, Ricci joined fellow performers Helen Mirren (1923), Bella Ramsey (The Last of Us), Patrick Stewart (Picard), and Jeremy Strong (Succession) to discuss everything from their careers to the acting craft at large.
On the matter of actors separating themselves from the character, Ricci admitted she still struggles with that aspect of performing:
I realized when I did the first season — you know, Misty is sort of this outrageous character and is supposed to be funny. But I never played her funny. So I play her in the most truthful way I can, and she ends up being funny. And it makes me so uncomfortable when people tell me they think it’s funny.
She added that her Yellowjackets co-stars keep telling her: “You have to figure this out, why you hate that she’s funny.” However, Ricci seems to have already decoded her anxiety, explaining, “[M]y ego has melded with hers … and she wouldn’t want to be laughed at.”
Mirren chimed in her support for Ricci, saying that if she tried to play Misty as funny, it wouldn’t seem authentic. “If [Misty] is conscious of being funny, it would destroy the whole thing,” the legendary actress said.
Later in the discussion, Ricci copped to never figuring out in her three-plus decades in the business how to totally divorce herself from what’s in the script. Offering a self-deprecating laugh, Ricci said, “Eventually I’ll learn how to separate myself emotionally from my character.” The entire table laughed, but it was Strong — well-known for adhering to the tortures of method acting while shooting Succession — who finally spoke up, delivering his opinion succinctly: “Or not.”
We have to agree. The separation doesn’t matter when the result is this convincing.