Skip to content

Christina Ricci Says Acting Was an "Escape" From "Horrendous Childhood"

The actor opened up about growing up in the spotlight and why "real life is worse."

Teen idol Christina Ricci became a household name in the '90s, making her film debut in Mermaids alongside Cher and Winona Ryder when she was just nine. Ricci went on to star in a string of spooky favorites like The Addams Family movies and Casper, also landing a leading role in the cult classic drama Now and Then. But while Ricci was recognized for her talent and pluck on the big screen, her career was actually an "escape" for the young actor, she said in a recent interview. Read on to find out what Ricci revealed about her "horrendous childhood," and how acting helped her get away.

READ THIS NEXT: Miley Cyrus Says "There's So Much She Doesn't Remember" About Being a Child Star.

Ricci said that acting was an "escape" from her childhood.

christina ricci and winona ryder in mermaids
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Getty Images

In addition to starring in Netflix's Addams Family reboot series Wednesday, Ricci also graces the small screen in Showtime's thriller Yellowjackets, which is now back for its second season.

In the breakout series, Ricci stars alongside Melanie LynskeyTawny Cypress, and fellow child star Juliette Lewis, playing the adult versions of high school soccer players who end up stranded in the wilderness after surviving a plane crash. But beyond playing a survivor on TV, Ricci recently spoke about surviving her own childhood—and how acting was a way of coping.

"When I first started, and still as adults, this career has always been an escape for me," she told Entertainment Tonight in a March 22 interview. "And, you know, 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 older adults and be valued."

Ricci added, "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 has spoken about her childhood and family life before.

christina ricci in 2019
Tinseltown / Shutterstock

Ricci didn't go into details about her childhood during the ET interview, but she has previously addressed her upbringing. In Dec. 2022, she spoke with The Guardian about childhood trauma, but she made it clear that it's not the fame that negatively impacted her.

"People write things like: 'Christina talks about the trauma of fame,'" the actor told The Guardian. "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," she added. "Child abuse in my family."

In Sept. 2022, Ricci also spoke at the annual Texas Trailblazers luncheon for The Family Place, which is the largest service provider for victims of domestic violence in the state.

"I was a child in an abusive and violent household and then repeated that mistake as an adult," Ricci said at the event, per CBS.

According to Fox News, Ricci accused her ex-husband, James Heerdegen, of physical abuse, and filed a restraining order against him in 2021. The actor noted "severe physical and emotional abuse." Heerdegen denied the allegations.

RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

She's doesn't want her kids to be famous while they're young.

christina ricci in 2020
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

But while her acting career provided refuge, Ricci has said that she doesn't want her children involved in Hollywood.

Back in 2019, the actor told the New York Post that she wasn't going to force fame on her son Freddie, who was 4 years old at the time.

"I feel it's child abuse to make your child famous," she said, later adding, "Being famous is not good for children, it's just not. We have a million examples of why it's not good for children. I'm just not going to risk it. Why would you put the most precious thing in your life up for that?"

Ricci said that she is open to her kids pursuing a similar career once they're more mature, however. "Once he's an adult, and he studies, and he understands that it's an art form, then he can pursue an acting career if he'd like," she said.

Ricci said the industry continues to improve.

christina ricci at yellowjackets season 2 premiere
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Ricci may not want her children to grow up as stars, but she maintains a positive outlook on her own career path—and on the future in general. The entertainment industry is on the upswing, she said.

"There's a lot of difficult things to navigate and survive, if you will, in this industry," Ricci told ET in the new interview. "But I also think that I really benefited from this place in time where gradually things have been getting better and are so much better now."

The actor attributed the growth in Hollywood to "all the amazing work that younger generations are doing."

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
Filed Under