Die-hard Ricci fans may feel betrayed by her mainstream success. At least she knows when she's selling out. "I like being tired at the end of the day," she says. "I know really true artists may crucify me for saying this, but sometimes a script is just good enough."

And sometimes it's great. Like in Monster, the unlikeliest entry in the noble-prostitute genre, which stars Charlize Theron as the highway hooker. Here Ricci plays Wuornos' manipulative lover, polishing off cases of Schlitz Ice while her meal ticket gives $10 blow jobs. And it's a credit to Ricci that while Theron plugs seven guys in the chest, you leave the theater hating Ricci.

"She's talented like a motherfucker," says her co-star.

Ricci doesn't have much of a plan for life post-Monster. Prozac Nation, her much-delayed (the paperback tie-in featuring her face hit Amazon three years ago) turn as human medicine cabinet Elizabeth Wurtzel, is supposedly due out this spring. Forgive her if she doesn't start hand-writing invitations to the premiere, though. In response to a New York Times article in which Wurtzel herself called the movie "just awful," Ricci strains to be polite: "She says I was just like her."

So she'll move to New York and hit her favorite East Village dives. Maybe she'll do television again. (She's probably the only one who enjoyed shooting that last season of Ally McBeal.) Maybe she'll do theater. Yes, she too would like to direct, though her long-planned adaptation of the dark comic novel The Speed Queen has been scrapped. (The vagaries of Hollywood financing.)

What she'd really like to do is make more movies like 2002's Pumpkin—the perfectly deranged love story of a sorority girl and her disturbed boyfriend—an indie she produced and starred in that made no money but was apparently a lot of fun. "Cassavetes was paid as an actor, and then made the films he wanted to make," she says.

And that's not defeat in her voice. As John Waters says: "She's cynical in the best sense of the word."