Executive producer and leading actress, Christina Ricci liked the book, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, so much, that she asked about the rights to filming the property. Written by Theresa Anne Fowler, the novel fictionalizes the life and times of the iconic American writer, dancer and socialite, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald.
Like many of us, Ricci’s knowledge of the Fitzgeralds was originally limited to reading The Great Gatsby in her youth and coming across homages to Zelda in the world of fashion or in relation to Zelda’s famous husband. “I loved Theresa’s book and can’t believe I had such misconceptions about Zelda Fitzgerald,” Ricci noted. The former child actress went on to read everything she could about the artists, including two biographies and everything both Zelda and F. Scott ever wrote. Commonly known as America’s first Flapper of the Jazz Age, once Sayre Fitzgerald’s life unfolded in front of Ricci, she made the decision to portray Zelda as a fully realized human, rather than the “crazy person” she had been labeled by the press at the time. Zelda was smart, ambitious and complicated. She yearned for her own identity, beyond her family of origin and uniquely separate
from any husband. And at the time, this type of alpha personality usually landed women in the psychiatric ward. “It must have been emotionally tortuous to want more and not have the opportunity to have it. I can imagine back then, that at some point, you would lose your mind,” Ricci added thoughtfully.
What a casual reader of the Fitzgeralds’ legacy might not know is that it was Zelda who insisted that F. Scott rewrite his first novel before they were married. Importantly, much of F. Scott’s exact dialogue was taken from Zelda’s personal diaries at the time. Her husband had discouraged her ambition to write, early on, so Zelda was understandably angry and frustrated with her predicament. She was at times flattered, at times furious.
Amazon, Ricci, and the filmmakers manage to present the rich nuances of Zelda’s personality and her story in it’s totality, rather than the simple myth of the glamorous or “crazy” party girl Flapper of the 1920s. What Ricci is proudest of is that the project came together so beautifully. “We had the best department heads, the highest quality of everything.” She related that it was indeed, “very frightening to play an icon.” It was intimidating to portray someone so world famous and yet close to her heart. Luckily, the experience has been very gratifying and with season two just announced three days ago, it will be an exhilarating experience to see how far Ricci will take one of the most luminous icons in recent American history.