Christina Ricci says being a child star was an ‘escape’ from ‘horrendous childhood’

‘Yellowjackets’ actor has previously alleged she suffered abuse from members of her family

Ellie Harrison
Friday 24 March 2023 10:30 GMT
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Christina Ricci has said that being a child actor was an “escape” from her “horrendous” childhood.

Talking about her experience of entering the industry so young – she first became famous for playing Wednesday Addams in 1991’s The Addams Family when she was 11 years old – the actor said: “When I first started, and still as an adult, this career has always been an escape for me.”

She told US publication Entertainment Tonight: “As a kid, it was an escape from, like, a horrendous childhood and just getting to go away – be in hotels and be on set and be with other adults and be valued.

“All the little things that sort of are negative about the industry and the career, they’ve always been things that I’ve just been like, ‘Well, real life is worse.’”

Ricci, 43, has previously alleged that she suffered child abuse from members of her family.

She told The Guardian last year: “People write things like, ‘Christina talks about the trauma of fame.’ It’s like, no. When I am talking about childhood trauma, I am not talking about the trauma of fame. There’s been childhood stuff, child abuse in my family.”

In another interview with The Sunday Times, she said that she “grew up in a very chaotic home. I was the youngest child. I was adorable, and I learned very early on that my ability to be adorable could diffuse things or distract people; I don’t feel the need to go into much more detail.”

She did add that she had a “fake favourite colour” when she was growing up to avoid her real favourite possessions being taken away, saying that “if you didn’t care [about something] you got to keep it”.

Ricci’s parents divorced when she was 13, and she hasn’t spoken to her father since she was a teenager. She has previously described her father, who once worked as a primal scream therapist, as a difficult man.

Christina Ricci (Getty Images for DuJour)

In 2022, Ricci spoke at a luncheon for The Family Place, the largest domestic abuse support provider in Texas. “I was a child in an abusive and violent household and then repeated that mistake as an adult,” she said.

In 2021, the actor accused her ex-husband, James Heerdegen, of physical abuse.

After nearly seven years of marriage, Ricci filed for divorce, stating she had been subjected to “severe physical and emotional abuse” by him.

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In January 2021, she was granted a domestic violence restraining order against Heerdegen and later, full custody of their son.

Heerdegen’s attorney, Larry Bakman, told TMZ in 2021 that his client “unequivocally denies all allegations of abuse made by Ms Ricci as having occurred in 2020.” A judge denied Heerdegen’s request for a restraining order against Ricci.

Ricci is currently appearing in the second season of Yellowjackets. Read The Independent’s three-star review here.

If you’re worried about a child, even if you’re unsure, you can contact professional counsellors at the NSPCC for help, advice and support by emailing or calling 0808 800 5000. For those aged 18 or under, Childline offers free, confidential advice and support whatever your concern and whenever you need help. Call 0800 1111 or Contact Childline.

If you are a child and you need help because something has happened to you, you can call the NSPCC free of charge on 0800 1111. You can also call the NSPCC if you are an adult and you are worried about a child, on 0808 800 5000. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) offers support for adults on 0808 801 0331.

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