Krysten Ritter: Unconventional Girl

Krysten Ritter by Eric Ray Davidson for Self Assignment - 5/1/2009

Krysten Alyce Ritter describes herself as “un-conventional” and that definitely allows her to be the embodiment of my weakness—she is a shining example of my own personal kryptonite. Now, you may be thinking, and justifiably so, how can a Hollywood starlet who has modeled for Banana Republic be considered unconventional? To answer that question fairly and honestly you first have to take into account that Ritter is part of a completely unconventional world. Being a Hollywood actress is a rare and very often bizarre job title to hold. Hollywood actresses are primarily defined, often unfairly, by their physical visage. The visage that Hollywood cherishes in women is more often than not very one-dimensional. Diversity in Hollywood has always been an issue and actresses have historically been amongst the hardest hit. Ritter is gorgeous, that isn’t open for debate, but what makes her singular is that she is gorgeous in her own very unique way. What makes the star of the upcoming ABC show, Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23, even more breathtaking is that she is completely aware and embraces the fact that she is a different breed of Hollywood actress.

“I feel like the character from Nightmare Before Christmas (Sally)—walking around all gangly. I think I clean up all right but I know that I’m not conventional. I’m not naive about that and I’m cool with it.”


Ritter’s physical appearance isn’t the only thing that makes her stand out from the genetically blessed crowd—she is also an immense and perhaps underrated performer. Ritter is one of the rare actors that are artistically at home in both comedy and drama. Her comedic work and her dramatic forays are equally convincing and naturalistic.

The hysterical but infectious side of her persona could be partly owed to a childhood obsession. “I would run home from school and watch In Living Color. I was a really big Jim Carrey fan. In Living Color…I was really into as a kid,” she warmly recalls. You would have to think that the 90s sketch comedy show is not where the majority of actresses pull from for inspiration. Ritter’s comedic flare and timing make it easy to understand why she would have been drawn to that iconic program.

Ritter was also known to obsess over dramatic work as a youngster. That ability to do darker and more moody characters may be partly attributed to another childhood infatuation of hers. “I would get into weird movies like Tombstone (as a kid) and I would watch them on repeat. That’s still one of my favorite movies.”

LOS ANGELES, CA: Actress Krysten Ritter is photographed for a Self Assignment. (Photo by Eric Ray Davidson/Contour by Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA: Actress Krysten Ritter is photographed for a Self Assignment. (Photo by Eric Ray Davidson/Contour by Getty Images)

The “unconventional” girl was raised on a farm in Pennsylvania. She grew up enjoying Hollywood’s films and television shows, but she wasn’t aware of the business side of Southern California’s entertainment machine. She had no aspirations early on of being a professional performer. As a young girl she didn’t even know that becoming a performer for hire was a possibility. “It was something that wasn’t in my reality or anybodies reality when you’re from a tiny town like I am,” she says in regards to becoming an actress. Her lack of knowledge about the business aspect early on may have helped her become such a rebel as far as actresses go. She does not seem concerned with the superficial things that other performers are interested in.

Krysten has done some of the typical Hollywood fair in Los Angeles, but it isn’t really where she feels at home artistically. The actress has made a few big budget romantic comedies and she looks back on the process fondly and finds the films to be entertaining. “I think She’s Out of My League is funny and it was a great ensemble cast. Confessions of a Shopaholic was a great experience for me because I love Isla Fisher so much.” Ritter is however quick to admit that her personal cinematic preferences are much more nuanced. “I like small movies that are performance driven and not formula driven.”

“There are not great roles for women unless it’s a tiny independent film or on television,” she says in respect to the current crop of characters an actress can choose from. She values and looks up to female actors who she feels try and break the mold in terms of what a non male performer can do on screen. One role model is “Annie Hall” herself, Academy Award winner, Diane Keaton. “I love all her Woody Allen films…she’s so smart and funny in them. She gets to be a well-rounded human being in those films. She basically directed herself in Annie Hall. She is a trailblazer.”

Ritter’s opinion that television and indie film is the only place to find good roles for an actress may be shaped by the fact that she has had such great success in those venues recently. She turned in a truly awe inspiring performance in Season 2 of the critically acclaimed television gem, Breaking Bad. Her dedication and commitment to the drug addict character she played makes it easy to understand why she was so convincing in the part. The passionate actress tried to mirror the behavior of her junkie character, Jane Margolis. “I probably cooked up 35 rounds of heroin before we shot. Not real heroin…but I wanted to look like a surgeon…I wanted to look like I knew what I was doing,” she says about her research for the role.

In the independent film genre she has also found a lot of personal gratification of late. Ritter definitely has an independent spirit and that meshes perfectly with the defiant world of indie film. The film star refers to her upcoming independent movie, Refuge, as “the best acting experience I’ve ever had.” The low key, low budget environment of the project may have helped make the experience rich for the performer. “It was a tiny movie, without all the frills, no make-up, no anything.” She finds that lack of “frills” a helpful asset. “I really like the immediacy of independent filmmaking…there’s not enough time to put on another layer of mascara or shit like that…that’s more important in the bigger budget films.”

LOS ANGELES, CA: Actress Krysten Ritter is photographed for a Self Assignment. (Photo by Eric Ray Davidson/Contour by Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA: Actress Krysten Ritter is photographed for a Self Assignment. (Photo by Eric Ray Davidson/Contour by Getty Images)

This artistic beauty will become a big part of the mainstream entertainment world with her network television show, Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23. The controversial title alone lets you know that the show isn’t going to be just another vanilla sitcom. You can also rest assure, based on her track record, that Ritter won’t be conforming to any Hollywood cliché’s or stereotypes in the near future.

“When I first got to Los Angeles I felt really bad about myself. These women at the gym, their tan, fake lips, fake boobs,” she says. “I’m pale and thin…I have dark circles under my eyes,” she says with a laugh and a sense of self-deprecation. Despite her early misgivings, her different physical ascetic never made her lose confidence in the long run. She eventually got to a place of self-acceptance and, most importantly, self-appreciation. “I feel very confident, I’m aware I don’t look typical. I think it’s important to embrace who you are and not try to be something you are not.”

With that way of thinking, and enduring perspective, it makes it very
easy to embrace the Unconventional Girl, Krysten Ritter.


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