Work is swell and all, but sometimes you just need a break. Take Christina Ricci, for instance. The actress has been working since she was 10 years old. That's when she made her first movie, Mermaids, costarring Cher and Winona Ryder. By the time she was 20, Ricci had made 25 more movies. Those included the two big-budget Addams Family pictures - you remember her as the creepy Wednesday Addams - and several edgy independent movies, Buffalo '66 and The Opposite of Sex among them. A recurring role on TV's Ally McBeal and 10 more films, including Monster, in which Ricci played opposite Oscar winner Charlize Theron, followed. Her 36th film, the just-released Wes Craven horror flick Cursed, hits theaters February 25.
Let's put that in perspective. Ricci has been an actress for 14 years, yet she's already made more movies than Tom Cruise has in his entire career. So who's going to begrudge her a little time off?
Not New Orleans. There, time off is more highly regarded than time on. So it makes sense that the actress recently spent more than two months vacationing in New Orleans while her boyfriend, Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan), shot a movie there for the USA network. He worked. She, for the first time in a long time, didn't. "New Orleans is just so laid-back," Ricci says from her new home in New York's Chelsea neighborhood. "It felt like nobody was taking anything seriously. You don't feel like the city is about working. It's about relaxing and eating and hanging out."
As it turns out, New Orleans and Christina Ricci have plenty in common. She's not the typical Hollywood starlet. It's not the typical U.S. city. They're both quirky, and both have what you might call a unique appearance - New Orleans with its shabby-chic Creole cottages and ornate cast-iron balconies, and Ricci with that heart-shaped face and those saucer-shaped eyes. Both actress and city are more than just a little mysterious, too. Plus, they're both short. Much of New Orleans is below sea level and Ricci's only 5-foot-1.
Is that taking the comparison too far? Probably. Point is, the Big Easy was the perfect fit for an actress looking for a little time off. And Ricci is more than happy to share what she learned about having fun while getting nothing done.
Tip One: Walk The Dog
In any other city besides New Orleans, it might be unusual to see adiminutive movie star walking down the street with a diminutiveminiature pinscher named Sheriff Steve Goldberg. But in topsy-turvyNew Orleans, where unusual sights are the norm - yes, that's agiant papier-mâché cow being pulled down Bourbon Street by atractor - hardly anyone noticed. "I wasn't recognized too much,"says Ricci, who has, in the past, professed to her own shyness. "Itwas really great, because my little dog and I walked all over theFrench Quarter and saw all the old buildings there."
When she and The Sheriff weren't wandering the Quarter, they headedup to the city's Garden District. Reachable on the oldestcontinually operating streetcar in the world, the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line (please don't call it a trolley!), the Garden District is home to grand mansions, one of New Orleans' fabled aboveground cemeteries, and the famed Commander's Palace restaurant. Writer Anne Rice still owns a home there, too, though it's now on the block for just under $4 million if you're interested.
Ricci is not. Rice's Interview With The Vampire (Tom Cruise's 18th film) might have costarred Ricci as the child vamp had Kirsten Dunst not beaten her out for the part.
"The Garden District is really wonderful," says Ricci, who was born in Southern California but grew up in New Jersey and Long Island. "I haven't spent that much time in the South, but every time I go, I can't get over how beautiful it is. The homes in the Garden District are really stunning."