'I stopped at the pharmacy on the way here and I wasn't very careful getting out of my car. At least,' she sighs, 'I was wearing underwear.'By now we're sitting at a table and have ordered drinks.Ricci hasn't stopped talking and after a few minutes we've already covered the paparazzi, nudity in films ('I do it all the time - I don't understand why it's such a big deal'), what time she goes to bed ('I'm always in bed by 11 or 12 and people laugh all the time - they want me to hang out until two in the morning, but n-n-no, I need my nine hours') and her quest to eat healthily.But now, the actress tells Catherine Elsworth, it's time the world saw her afresh I'm walking up to the Hollywood sushi restaurant where I'm due to meet the actress Christina Ricci for lunch, when I see a photographer leap out of a car and begin frantically snapping pictures.I follow his gaze to a black Mercedes that has just pulled up at the kerb and see a petite figure in a green minidress, flip-flops and oversized sunglasses hand her car keys to the valet and step swiftly towards the restaurant entrance. She's used to the paparazzi but today, for some reason, she wasn't expecting to be followed. I'm pretty certain there's going to be some crotch shots.'I felt like, if I wasn't calm, he might just pull away and not let go of my breast and I'd lose like a whole piece.' Ricci was discovered aged six by a casting agent who happened to see her in a school play in Montclair, New Jersey, and began acting professionally aged seven.She was cast alongside Cher in Mermaids (1990) and then, of course, as Wednesday Addams.
Perhaps that's why Ricci found the audition so terrifying.'When I read the script I was, like, "I don't know what I'm doing." Because when you read a script and someone is having a nervous breakdown or someone is crying because someone else is dying, it's very specific. But when it's just someone talking in a normal situation - there are a million different interpretations.'With her heart-shaped face, large eyes and high forehead, she is the perfect choice to play a cartoon character brought to life.
'I only realised recently that other people don't give interviews like this where they talk non-stop. I took it to heart then, and 20 years later I'm still doing it. Sometimes people are, like, "You're talking way too much."'Speed Racer, a family film, is a departure for Ricci on several fronts: it's her first action film, potentially her first blockbuster, and probably the only time she'll see her character get its own plastic action figure and Mc Donald's Happy Meal.
Ever since, aged ten, she played the endearingly malevolent Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family (1991), Ricci's fans have become used to seeing her play dark, damaged young women, such as Rae, the abused nymphomaniac from the 2006 film Black Snake Moan (after which Ricci announced, 'I've had enough sex for the next two years with this movie'), Shelby, the lesbian lover of Charlize Theron's serial killer in Monster (2003) and the tormented teens she played in the art-house films The Ice Storm (1997), Buffalo '66 (1998) and Prozac Nation (2001).
'Oh, yeah, my mom travelled with me everywhere until I was about 16 or 17, and then I started going off on my own.' Ricci says she's still unpicking some of the issues from her childhood, but today has 'got to a place that everyone gets to one day where you feel more secure.
I decided to turn everything I know now and all my experience into really positive things for myself.