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Christina Ricci talks 'Yellowjackets' season 2

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

The critically acclaimed show "Yellowjackets" - part psychological thriller, part coming-of-age drama - is back for its second season. The new season brings us even deeper into the story of the Yellowjackets, a high school girls' soccer team from New Jersey that becomes stranded in the Canadian woods after their plane crashes on the way to a tournament in 1996. We're also getting to see more of the ways the trauma from that event continues to affect the girls 25 years later. Christina Ricci plays the now-middle-aged Misty Quigley, who was the team's equipment manager.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "YELLOWJACKETS")

CHRISTINA RICCI: (As Misty) No. You can't leave. Taissa and Natalie aren't even here yet.

MELANIE LYNSKEY: (As Shauna) Misty, they're an hour late, which is actually on time for people who, you know, aren't coming.

RICCI: (As Misty) But I made punch. Well, this is just great. You know, I try to do something nice, try to help my friend cover up her crime of passion. And what do I get? You know, I have a lot at stake here, too.

LYNSKEY: (As Shauna) I know, but we were careful, right?

RICCI: (As Misty) We missed something. I can feel it. You got rid of all of Adam's stuff?

LYNSKEY: (As Shauna) Yeah. Yes, of course I did.

RICCI: (As Misty) You hesitated.

LYNSKEY: (As Shauna) No, I didn't.

RICCI: (As Misty) And your journals, too?

LYNSKEY: (As Shauna) Yes.

RICCI: (As Misty) Answered too fast that time.

LYNSKEY: (As Shauna) Misty.

MCCAMMON: And she joins us now to tell us more about the show's new season. Christina Ricci, thank you so much for being with us.

RICCI: Yeah, no, of course. I have to say, though, right off the top, I refuse to be called middle-aged until I'm 50.

MCCAMMON: I'm with you right there. I think we're about the same age, so yeah, yeah, we're not there yet.

RICCI: No.

MCCAMMON: But there's nothing wrong with that, right? It's better than the alternative. Without giving everything away, the wildly popular first season ended on a cliffhanger. And returning for this new season, you know, did you and others feel pressure to kind of deliver on the expectations of that first season?

RICCI: Yeah. I mean, I personally felt really intimidated at the idea of coming back. And she's such a specific character, and I just - it just really was sort of really intimidating, like I said, to try to come back and repeat the performance and live up to expectations.

MCCAMMON: Well, you kind of just alluded to it, but Misty is a pretty complicated character. You know, she's caring and upbeat but also kind of villainous. What do you see in her? What drew you to playing her?

RICCI: Well, I mean, I love these kinds of characters. And I especially love - you know, you said that she's upbeat. And she is someone who is really, really deeply unhappy. And that sort of, like, refusal to be unhappy is her coping mechanism. That, you know, vigilant, everything-is-OK thing she gives off is really a reaction to how deeply unhappy she is. And that, to me, is so fun. It's so fun to play characters that really handle things in a different way than you normally see. And it's real, too. I mean, some of the quote-unquote, "happiest," nicest people I know are actually just refusing to feel the pain they're in.

MCCAMMON: How much of that is down to who she sort of intrinsically is and how much is a result of the trauma that she's been through?

RICCI: Well, I think, you know, when the series begins, we do see that she is an unhappy person. I mean, there's just something about her that's lacking. In the pilot episode, we see her as a young Misty sort of just, like, blankly watching an animal die and not saving it from - you know, it's drowning in the pool. And I think that really is meant to indicate that there's something lacking inside of her. And then we see that she is constantly rejected, a real outsider. People just shun her. And I think that even without what happens with the plane crash, I think she would be an unhappy person all her life.

MCCAMMON: Because that's just one of these perennial questions, isn't it? I mean, how much are people a product of what happens to them and how - why do some people overcome and other people don't? And, you know, I just think it's a fascinating question.

RICCI: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think that the experience with the plane crash really allows her to realize how much she's capable of. And she crosses so many lines at such a young age, as they all do, that then I think when she returns, when they're saved, what stays with her is this, like, idea that there really are no rules for her. She doesn't have to abide by the normal societal standards.

MCCAMMON: We get to see you team up with another '90s iconic child star, Elijah Wood, another icon of my youth. He plays Walter, who is similarly chipper yet unsettling and who might be Misty's perfect foil.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "YELLOWJACKETS")

RICCI: (As Misty) What is your deal?

ELIJAH WOOD: (As Walter) Elaborate.

RICCI: (As Misty) I mean, how can you just be here? Do you not have a job?

WOOD: (As Walter) Oh, no. I haven't had a job in years. I'm a millionaire. Multimillionaire, technically.

RICCI: (As Misty) No, you're not.

WOOD: (As Walter) Remember that scaffolding company who got sued a few years back when their beams came loose and caused a torrent of bricks to hit that poor guy who was walking under it? Well, he had to have a metal plate put in his head and settled in court for $6 million. Yeah, the whole thing's on YouTube, and even the experts don't know how I survived. Do you want to see?

MCCAMMON: You two actually worked together all those years ago in "The Ice Storm" in 1997. Is there a different dimension to working with somebody that you, you know, have known for a long time?

RICCI: I guess so. I mean, at first, when I heard, I was like, oh, I love Elijah. You know, we worked together on "The Ice Storm," and then we'd run into each other at random things. But then, of course, I thought, ooh, what was I like when I was 15? You know, sort of like, hmm.

MCCAMMON: Fair enough.

RICCI: Turns out I was fine. We were fine. So it was great.

MCCAMMON: Moving on from "Yellowjackets" lately, you also have a role on the hit Netflix series "Wednesday," which, of course, is based off the iconic "Addams Family" character. I think a lot of people know you from that. You played that role in films in 1991 and '93. And I'm curious, Christina, what is it like for you to sort of see this second coming or revival of that character, you know, particularly one that is attached to a role that you played, you know, as a very young person?

RICCI: Yeah. You know, I have a lot of strong feelings about Wednesday and having played her. I feel very sentimental about it. Playing that character really shaped my career in many ways, and so I feel very attached to that. But having said that, you know, with "Wednesday," the Netflix series, it is a new iteration of the character. So it - it's, you know, it's Jenna's Wednesday, and it's Tim's Wednesday. And so I was so thrilled and touched to be asked to be a part of it. But at the same time, it feels very much like it's two separate performances, really. And also, the - you know, my Wednesday was a little girl. There are real differences.

But at the same time, like, I love the idea that a new generation has this Wednesday as a role model because I think Wednesday is a really great role model for kids and for everybody, really - this idea of knowing who you are, being yourself, not changing because of any kind of pressures. And I think that's really powerful.

MCCAMMON: Finally, the "Yellowjackets" finale is just weeks away. Are there any hints you can give us about what to expect for Misty and the rest of the team?

RICCI: I mean, I just think it's devastating. It's a really shocking, devastating season finale.

MCCAMMON: All right. Well, on that note, thank you so much. That was Christina Ricci. She plays Misty Quigley on "Yellowjackets." The second season is now airing weekly on Showtime. Christina Ricci, thanks so much for being with us.

RICCI: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO RETURN")

CRAIG WEDREN AND ANNA WARONKER: (Singing) It was cool, nothing fire, nothing broke. Keep simple, nothing tired, nothing old. Same as you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.