Krysten Ritter’s acting career twists and turns in the right direction
Story by Liz Black / Photography by Heidi Hartwig
With her translucent skin and thick raven tresses it’s easy to see why Krysten Ritter has been cast in dark roles. Characters like drug addicts, vampires, and outcast black-sheep types make perfect sense — until she opens her mouth, and her bubbly personality shines through.
You can sense her small-town naivety in the sweetness of her demeanor; you want to coddle her and protect her from the cruel industry she has eagerly joined. And now — only now, does it make sense that she was cast in romantic comedies like Confessions of a Shopaholic and 27 Dresses.
Ritter grew up on a beef farm in Shickshinny, Penn. before succumbing to that old chestnut of being “found in a mall.” But unlike the myriad small-town girls who are suckered into paying for “modeling classes” and glamour shots, Ritter had the unbelievable luck of being scouted by Elite Model Management. After strutting and posing in New York, Barcelona, Milan, Tokyo, and Paris, Ritter tacked on another model stereotype by moving to New York and eventually transitioning from modeling, to bit parts, and finally to full-time acting.
After a few auxiliary roles in various shows and movies, Ritter landed reccurring roles on Gilmore Girls and ’Til Death. After gaining some interest, she was cast in the much-hyped Gossip Girl spin-off that never crystallized. But, continuing with her idealistic outlook on life, Ritter says, “Well, simply put, the stars didn’t align for the Gossip Girl prequel to go to series. But at the end of the day I loved my character, have enormous respect and adoration for Josh [Gossip Girl Creator Josh Schwartz] and Stephanie [Gossip Girl producer Stephanie Savage], and although it’s always sad when things don’t work out, like anything, everything works out for the best and I’m happy the way things unfolded. There is always a reason. And in this case I’ve gotten the lead of a new cable show, [Gravity], and a few movies lined up including Killing Bono and Vamps. Had the spin-off gone to air I wouldn’t have had these other wonderful opportunities. It was a lot of fun though, and I would do it again in a heartbeat without hesitation.”
But what’s the CW’s loss is Starz’s gain. Ritter gains her first lead TV role as Lily Champagne in Gravity, a comically tragic show about suicide survivors. While many a concerned parent may cringe at the semi-satirical take on the depressing subject matter, Ritter assures that she is taking the role seriously. “I am madly in love with Gravity at the moment. It’s been full immersion into my character and nothing else in my world exists at the moment. I love playing characters with some gravitas, history and darkness,” she says. “That’s a wonderful place to be as an actress, when you can’t tell where you start and the character ends. Everything else fades away. There is just nothing better and it’s an absolute luxury.”
With Ritter enthusiastically joining the ranks of television’s leading ladies, the next obvious step was to snag a leading movie role; which she did in Amy Heckerling’s up-coming movie Vamps. While the world may groan with Vampire oversaturation, take heart, this will not be your typical vampire flick. No brooding, sparkling bloodsuckers, no “Team Edward,” and we promise, no lovesick preteens cramming the theater aisles. “It’s so completely different from what’s already out there tonally. It’s a fun buddy comedy with heart and edge.” says Ritter, “And plus, it’s Amy Heckerling! Hello! I’m so honored that she wants me to star in her next movie. I mean, it’s pretty surreal for a girl who used to run home after school to watch Clueless on repeat.” Heckerling, known for her feel-good family-friendly flicks, has already scored big in the past with the aforementioned Clueless, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, and the entire Look Who’s Talking saga. Vamps is a modern-day tale of two young female vampires living the sweet life in New York City until love bares its fangs and each has to make a choice that will jeopardize their immortality.
Looking like the picture-perfect hipster may gain you accolades in Brooklyn and a role in the newest vampire movie, but will only garner stares in Los Angeles, where Ritter’s new homestead is. “Everything and everyone is fake head to toe and perfectly manicured and spray tanned. I start to feel like I don’t measure up,” she says, “There is just this horrible standard of what women are meant to look like. Dyed, tanned, waxed, and pedicured at all times.” But, like everything else Ritter does, she still sees the pale lining to the otherwise spray-tanned cloud. “Everyone is going to make a comment that I’m too pale or too skinny or people think my hair is fake, so the best bet is to just not think about it. I’m just doing my thing and I try to be confident and love myself the way I am.” Encouragingly, she says, “So I guess if me being on the big screen makes one ‘left of center’ girl feel normal or whatever, then that’s cool.”
While most rising starlets make multitudes of fashion missteps, Ritter is beginning to emerge as a fashionista favorite with her unique modern-day Snow White look. “I think I’m always a little rock and roll, but normally there is a hint more of femininity in there. A lot of dresses and boots and leather jackets. I used to say ‘a rock and roll ’90s ballerina.’ What happens when the ballerina gets a little older?” she muses. “I am also really into super sexy underwear. Even if no one is seeing them, I know they are there and I think it makes me feel more confident.”
Maybe Ritter’s dapper dressing is what landed her the latest Banana Republic campaign along side actors Chris Messina and Lauren Ambrose. Showing her duality, Ritter says, “I hope to get a mascara or lipstick campaign next! Or something super edgy and high fashion and weird. Prada? Yes please . . . ”
While Ritter’s life story may read like every girl’s dream, she hasn’t let it go to her head, adding to the loving covetousness you can’t help but suffer. She hopes to add director and producer to her already lengthy actress/writer/musician/model title, and you want that for her. She aspires to work with Tim Burton and Jake Gyllenhaal, some of the hottest directors and actors to date, and you can’t help but root her on in her quest. Krysten Ritter is by far the most likeable, relatable chick that you’ll ever be jealous of as you cheer her on.