Tragic Details About Christina Ricci

The following references an eating disorder and domestic abuse allegations.

Christina Ricci grew up in the limelight after being discovered in a school play. She landed her big breakout role when she was just 10 years old, playing Cher's daughter in 1990's "Mermaids." And the box office hits just kept coming — until they didn't. For a while, it seemed like Ricci might be destined to the fate of many child stars who Hollywood won't cast anymore, then everything changed. 

In 2021, the actor exploded back onto the scene thanks to the runaway hit "Yellowjackets." Per Variety, the show, which seemed to come out of left field, averaged over 5 million viewers a week, becoming Showtime's second-most streamed series ever after "Billions." With such a massive hit on her hands and an $8 million net worth, it's safe to say Ricci's career is back on the rise. 

Sadly, the road leading to this major career moment has been full of struggle and hardship. Here are the tragic details about Christina Ricci.

Christina Ricci struggled with an eating disorder

Growing up in the spotlight wasn't easy for Christina Ricci. As the actor told IndieWire in 2019, she had "a very hard time with fame as a child," but that wasn't all she struggled with. Opening up to The New Yorker in 2022, the "Yellowjackets" star said she turned into a "troubled, rageful teen" after going through "a pretty difficult childhood, just in terms of my family and things I went through as a kid." It was Hollywood, however, that triggered an eating disorder. Speaking candidly on "The Talk" in 2012 (per ET), she shared how going through puberty while "everybody is always kind of looking at you" and "judging" you made her feel "very uncomfortable." Ricci developed anorexia, which she tried to hide, but those closest to her noticed. She was "put into therapy very quickly" and, nowadays, she considers herself "lucky" because she "only really suffered from it for about a year and a half."

Ricci's recovery was marred with additional pain, however. Speaking with Marie Claire UK (via HuffPost), she revealed how "somebody actually found out about it and outed [me]." Calling it "a horrifying thing to do to a 14-year-old trying to cope with a devastating illness," Ricci said it inspired her to no longer hide from the media. "Out of rage, I vowed that no one would ever be able to out me for a secret again," she said. "I don't want to be hurt in that way again."

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

She lived through a 'hurricane' in her twenties

As Christina Ricci entered her twenties, she continued to struggle with fame and identity. As she confessed to ​​Marie Claire UK in 2012 (via RadarOnline), "It took a while for me to be comfortable with who I was." Growing up, she didn't accept the fact that "everyone might not get my sense of humor" and "everyone might not like me," so she tried to change. Recalling her early years in an interview with The New Yorker, Ricci dubbed herself a "nihilist" and shared how being "so separated from my peers" forced her to find other influences, including Courtney Love "before [she] cleaned up." Referencing a 1996 Blender interview in which, at 16, she proclaimed, "Nothing feels real at all," Ricci admitted her nonchalant attitude was actually an act. "As much as it doesn't seem like I was trying, I was actually trying to be more normal," she said. "I tried really hard for a really long time to be someone who said the right things and did the right things."

These days, she no longer feels the urge to "cause destruction for myself and others everywhere I go." It's a sentiment she also shared with Marie Claire UK, noting that she's "never been very Hollywood." What's more, she doesn't miss the old days of trying to fit in. "I'm so glad I'm not 20 years old anymore," Ricci said, comparing that time in her life to living "in a hurricane."

She had to give up on a huge dream

Christina Ricci has made a lifelong career of acting, but what many don't know is that she once had another goal that involved a different aspect of Hollywood. It was in a 1996 interview with Blender that a then-16-year-old Ricci proclaimed, "If I never do another movie again ... I won't be that crushed." As she told the outlet, she wouldn't mind giving up acting because she was planning to go to college the following year and pursue a different calling. "I'm writing now and I wanna be a filmmaker," she said.

Indeed, Ricci confirmed to The New Yorker in 2022 that her adaptation of Jean Cocteau's "Les Enfants Terribles" landed her a spot at Columbia University. Sadly, she had to give up on that dream before it started. Explaining that she "was not raised with a lot of money," Ricci recalled how she and her mother "were pretty much in debt" after having to borrow money to move to New York for her acting. Then she "started getting a lot of work in my senior year of high school" and she chose stability over passion. "All of a sudden, I was successful in making money, so I deferred for a couple years, and then it was just like, I'm not going," she said. Does she regret it? "Now that I'm older, I do," the actor admitted. "I probably would still be writing if I had gone to the creative-writing program like I'd wanted to."

Christina Ricci survived 'physical and emotional abuse'

Christina Ricci met and fell in love with camera technician James Heerdegen on the set of 2011's "Pan Am." The couple married in 2013 and had son Freddie in 2014, however, their relationship turned volatile. In July 2020, the actor was granted an emergency protective order against her husband after police were called to their home for "domestic battery," according to Us Weekly. In January 2021, TMZ reported Ricci was granted a restraining order against her now-estranged husband. The order kept Heerdegen 100 yards away from Ricci, their son, and their dog, and forbade all contact.

According to court documents seen by TMZ, Ricci alleged Heerdegen began abusing her in December 2019 and said she asked for a divorce after he physically assaulted her. However, pandemic quarantine began soon after and Ricci said she "found herself trapped in a house with a violent abuser." The actor accused Heerdegen of two more outbursts in June 2020 during which he allegedly threw a chair at her and dragged her into a fire pit. Ricci said she feared for her life and quoted Heerdegen telling her in 2019 that "the only way he could feel sorry for me is if I were dismembered into small pieces." She eventually filed for divorce in July 2020. As for Heerdegen, he "unequivocally" denied the 2020 allegations and vowed to file his own restraining order.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Her divorce from James Heerdegen got messy

In January 2021, James Heerdegen followed up on his threats and filed for a restraining order against Christina Ricci but it was denied, per Page Six. In the document, which was seen by Daily Mail, Ricci's estranged husband accused the actor of putting their son at risk and claimed she "would drink to excess on an almost daily basis." He alleged that she once went on a "drunken tirade" during which she admitted to cheating and was "calling me the most vile of names and making bizarre threats." Heerdegen also claimed he'd check his son's milk bottles "to ensure that our infant was not being fed with alcohol-polluted breast milk." Ricci's attorney, Samantha Spector, fired back, telling Page Six that the filing was "nothing more than a transparently abusive attempt to silence my client."

The couple was finally legally divorced in July 2021 after deciding on a temporary custody arrangement that April, per Page Six. In the agreement, Ricci would have sole legal custody of Freddie, but Heerdegen would be granted visitation rights. Jump to January 2022 and People learned that their battle was far from over. Heerdegen was now requesting child and spousal support and asking Ricci to pay $50,000 to cover legal costs. According to court documents, Ricci's ex was "floundering in debt" and would "soon be completely broke." Saying he was "in desperate need of a fee order," the papers alleged he had spent all of his life's savings on "legal fees, rent payments, and security deposits."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Do people simply assume she's 'stupid'?

In January 2022, Christina Ricci revealed how she prepared to play Misty Quigley on "Yellowjackets" and, as it turns out, she simply had to look inside herself. Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, she explained that being an outcast in her own life helped define her role. Calling Quigley "a small woman," she honed in on how the character is "so passive-aggressive, so full of edge, because she's got so much rage by having been thwarted her whole life." It's something she knows all about. "I am a small woman who apparently is adorable to people who like to touch me and not take me seriously and like to assume I'm stupid before I open my mouth," she told the mag. Adding that she believes people see her as "an actress who didn't go to college" and simply assume she "must be really dumb," Ricci shared that she deals with anger just like Quigley. That is, "in a very passive-aggressive way." She added, "I very much related to that."

The topic of education is also something she touched on with The New Yorker in 2022. Recalling how she had to give up her spot at Columbia University, she confessed, "I was resentful of the idea that no one would think I was smart unless I had gone to college."

Hollywood turned its back on Christina Ricci

Christina Ricci kicked off a huge acting career when she was just a child, but despite early successes like "The Addams Family" and "Casper," Hollywood turned its back on her. As she told the Los Angeles Times in 2022, "But there was definitely a period of time when I didn't fit into anything that was being made." Said period, which she called "very tough," was the mid-2000s and comedy was the studios' focus. Recalling how she was continuously being sent to rom-com auditions, Ricci admitted she tried her best to change to "fit into those kinds of parts," but "it just never worked." Similarly, she said in The New Yorker she just "couldn't find the right fit during that time" because she was "never funny in the right way."

Her brash, unapologetic personality also made things difficult. "I know for a fact that people were a little put off in the industry," she told The New Yorker, conceding, "I understand being nervous about casting someone who seems so volatile and uncontrollable." Ricci's struggle to work continued until recently. "What I was always called as an actress is 'specific,'" she mused. "I was too specific, always specific." Unfortunately, it seemed like for years "there were no 'specific' roles," then 2021's "Yellowjackets" came along. Despite the struggle, though, Ricci is proud of her resume and, as she concluded, being "specific" hasn't "necessarily been a terrible thing for me."

Christina Ricci is now more content than ever

Christina Ricci has referred to herself as a "natural contrarian" who refuses to be labeled, but as she said in a 2019 IndieWire interview, she believes it's a "terrible" habit. She confessed, "I should really just allow people to view me the way they want to, but I have a real desire and drive to define myself and to not be defined by others." Even so, she's trying her best to let things go and be comfortable in her own skin. As she told People in 2016, motherhood has helped with that mental shift, as it's "made everything in my life actually important and matter." She explained, "I now have to take things seriously, and I never did before." Her agent, whom she's had since she was 10, is also to thank. Calling her a "brilliant, grounded woman," the actor shared, "She's responsible for that element." Ricci is also inspired by the changes she's seeing in Hollywood. Speaking with the Los Angeles Times in 2022, she highlighted the fact that women are finally "getting to play more and more interesting characters."

All of these elements have made her acting — and her life — better. As she confessed to IndieWire, "It took a very long time for me to have enough real meaning in my life to apply any meaning to the work I did." Now, she feels "more in charge of myself" and is "doing things because I understand more fully what life is supposed to be about."