Christina Ricci Talks Z: The Beginning of Everything, Special-Interest TV, and Embracing the Binge

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Christina Ricci Talks <I>Z: The Beginning of Everything</I>, Special-Interest TV, and Embracing the Binge

We’ve watched her grow up on screens both large and small. From her breakout role with The Addams Family films to working with everyone from Johnny Depp to Woody Allen, Ricci has earned her place performing on any stage, outlet or medium she chooses. Her latest project, Z: The Beginning of Everything, is a biographical labor of love about the tumultuous relationship between Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This project marks the first time that Ricci is the driving creative force behind a streaming episodic program, and we chatted with her about how this experience differed from projects of the past.

Paste:: After years of success with big-screen and traditional television projects, was it a tough decision to commit to a streaming platform for this show?

Ricci: No. At first, when it started happening, the directors were like, “Should we really all be doing that?” Then, very quickly it became apparent that was the future. So, when this came about, and when Amazon decided they wanted to make it and we submitted it, we were very much excited about being at Amazon.

Paste:: As both a producer and star of the show, do you approach things differently with the knowledge that it will be on a streaming platform?

Ricci: Yeah, a lot of the factors and elements in this show are dictated by the fact that it is streaming. The hope is for it to be binged…that’s the influence behind it being a half hour drama…it’s like dividing a movie with chapters, right? That makes it something that is easily consumed, I guess, by the public.

Paste:: Do you think this idea would ever have seen the light of day if pitched 10 or 15 years ago?

Ricci: No, I think what’s so incredible about all of these mediums, all of the outlets now, or platforms for television, is that there’s a place for every kind of content, I feel like. So, you can find a home for any material. It has merit as long as it’s well done… as long as it’s something interesting, it has a place. This certainly is something that you’d never get financed as a movie unless, you know, Jennifer Lawrence was attached to it but like, sorry, that just couldn’t happen.

Paste:: This show certainly has an edge to it. Are there things that you were free to do that you wouldn’t have necessarily gotten away with on more traditional outlets?

Ricci: Definitely, because there’s a platform for everything and there’s an audience for everything these days; you can actually really delve into nuance and detail in one genre, or one subject and you’re not going to alienate your audience. You couldn’t really do that before-it’s almost like special interest television in a way.

Paste:: For a show as specific as this one, is social media an important way to promote and service the fan base that it earns?

Ricci: Yes, definitely. This is a show that is being streamed so, social media really backs this up and supports it. Again, it’s like the idea of special interest TV where you can specifically get to your audience through social media. It’s much more efficient than the way we used to do press. I can have somebody following my Instagram, who specifically likes to watch me in things, and I can speak directly to them and make sure that they watch the show; that’s kind of the difference.

Paste:: You mentioned earlier that you want people to binge-watch this show. Why is that the best way to consume this?

Ricci: We did make it a half hour so it’s easy to consume, but also given the nature of the story…their life was a whirlwind. It was a rush, and I think that you feel that energy in our series, so watching it all at once allows you to build in the same way that they built through the story. You can follow along energetically, a little better.