Anyone who's worked with Christina Ricci mentions her eyes. Wes Craven calls them soulful. Don Roos calls them cinematic. Vincent Gallo, six years removed from Buffalo '66, says he still gets a certain tingle when he thinks about them. And John Waters, well, he sees the bigger picture. "Christina has a large, beautiful head," he says.

So it makes sense that the first time we see Ricci in Monster—a snipped-from-the-tabloids film about America's first female prostitute serial killer, Aileen Wuornos—it's from the neck up. She's sitting in a gay bar rocking a Billie Jean King mullet and chewing on a straw, but it's the stare you remember.

"You could use a two-second clip of her and get everything you need," says Monster director Patty Jenkins.

For a long time, though, no one cared much about the 24-year-old actress's eyes. As an angst-ridden proto-Avril in films like The Opposite of Sex and The Ice Storm, she was never thin enough. Then she was too thin. (Anorectic, actually.) And from the set of Prozac Nation came reports of what one can only hope was method acting.

Yet when the erstwhile Wednesday Addams and I meet she seems content, bordering on optimistic. And her eyes, they're a mile wide and the color of virgin Astroturf.

Ricci's in town for a second go at Cursed, a werewolf flick from the people who brought you Scream. Production was shut down several months ago while the special effects and script were upgraded. "Actually, it was so much fun the first time we decided to do it again," she says.

The horror film seems an unlikely choice from the once and future Sundance queen, though it's one she's comfortable with. "I could easily exist on less money," she says, "but I like the way I live now." Plus, she and her boyfriend, Adam Goldberg, just bought a duplex in Chelsea. "The food is better there," she says. "And Adam's, like, the mayor of New York."