In Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, Johnny Depp is undeniably at peak hotness – before any face swelling and before the marital abuse scandal. I admit without shame: he was the only reason why I agreed to watch the movie at all, and unfortunately the only one which made me last until the closing credits. Cristina Ricci’s cute-like-a-button face was a surprise perk, but something felt off as soon as I realised the suggested romance between her and Depp’s character. And I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I Googled the actors.
At the time of filming, Depp was thirty-seven. Meanwhile, with her rosy cheeks filled to the brim with baby collagen, Christina Ricci was eighteen. Eighteen. The closeups on the actors’ faces showed an adult dude leaning over a very child-like teenage girl. No wonder it didn’t seem right. Ricci’s stepmother was played by Miranda Richardson, five years Depp’s senior, who would look much more appropriate as his love interest. Instead, Richardson turns out to be a sworn-to-Satan witch and the culprit of all evil.
While insane Hollywood age gaps are nothing new, it was the portrayal of the scheming stepmother that caught my attention. A woman in her forties, juxtaposed against her youthful stepdaughter, seemed all too familiar. Recounting in my head all the evil stepmothers (alternatively, childless queens) populating our folklore, I realised they are all iterations of one and the same... continue reading now →