And then there was the time Christina Ricci played an (accused) axe murderess. But what drew the actress to the title role in Lizzie Borden Took an Axe?
“I’m attracted to true crime,” Ricci told me by phone in a recent interview. “So the story appealed to me. And the script [by Stephen Kay] was really well-written.”
The film is out on DVD this week, from director Nick Gomez (The Following, New Jersey Drive), with Ricci joined by co-stars Stephen McHattie, Clea Duvall, and Gregg Henry.
Lizzie Borden Took an Axe shows us the Borden household before and in the aftermath of the brutal slayings of Lizzie’s father and stepmother in the small community of Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892, as well as the subsequent trial in 1893. Kay’s script suggests that Lizzie was a pent-up and emotionally-manipulative young woman who might not have killed her parents – but she was definitely troubled, using sex and notoriety to get her way.
Ricci suggests that “There were definitely things going on in the [Borden] home that lead to all of this.” At the same time, “I can’t say that I think she’s a particularly sympathetic character. She definitely all of the sociopathic capabilities: very conniving, very manipulative.”
When I suggest that maybe Lizzie was possibly a little naive, Ricci says she belives that this was a woman who was very emotionally stunted. “She’s extremely immature and has sort of solipsistic tendencies.”
So where does Lizzie fit in with the long line of troubled women in her career, across roles in Monster, Black Snake Moan, Prozac Nation, The Opposite of Sex (the list goes on)?
“She’s not easily summed up.” For Ricci, these types of characters offer her “more to do” as a performer. Whereas a happy or content person doesn’t provide much motivation or dramatic weight, “Generally, the people who are unhappy are more interesting to play.”
Lizzie Borden Took an Axe is available now on DVD.