Many are familiar with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s tragic, yet passionate love story. The glamorous parties and literary successes; the alcoholism and mental illness. But the lesser told story comes from Zelda’s perspective. A new Amazon series, “Z: The Beginning of Everything” starring Christina Ricci as the vivacious Southern belle with a creative streak, shows us the infamous couple through Zelda’s eyes.
Ricci, who also executive produces, says she was inspired to portray Zelda after reading “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald” by Therese Anne Fowler, a fictionalized account of the Fitzgeralds that positions Zelda as the narrator.
“I didn’t really know anything about [Zelda] except for the common misconceptions that other people have,” says the 36-year-old actress. “It struck me the same way Patti Smith’s ‘Just Kids’ kind of struck me; it’s a way into a really inaccessible world, and to see that world from the inside out, it’s fascinating.”
Ricci talks with us about debunking the mythos of Zelda, the bunk notion of the "hysterical woman" and how she couldn’t get enough of that "black velvet and diamonds."
You mention the common misconceptions many of us have about Zelda. What can viewers learn about her from watching the show?
So many things. She was not an alcoholic; she just partied. [Scott] was the alcoholic. When you go back and read the biographies, she was always helping him through these periods of being sober. I didn’t realize how much of his writing was hers; I had no idea. I also thought that she was schizophrenic — [but there's] no evidence of schizophrenia whatsoever.
How much of her diagnosis was due to the sexism of the time; the notion of women being hysterical?
Well, one thing I’ve always found fascinating is a lot of the women you read about in history all had nervous breakdowns, or had to be hospitalized. You’re like, really? You see, they were just really angry. And the husband was like, "You must be insane to be this mad at me." [Laughs]