Pin It
pjimage (4)

Christina Ricci to play famed writer Nellie Bly in new film

A psychological thriller inspired by the famed 19th century journalist, who uncovered abuse in a New York asylum

Nellie Bly was a groundbreaking journalist who went undercover in the Women’s Lunatic Asylum in NY’s Blackwell Island. The story broke in 1887, exposing the horrific abuse and treatment of residents by asylum staff.

Christina Ricci has been signed to play Bly in a Lifetime film that will explore her investigation. Judith Light will play Matron Grady, as Variety reports, a head nurse who “tortured patients into submission”. 

The film, with the working title Nellie Bly, will provide a fictionalized account of real-life events, beginning with Nellie’s journey into the asylum, undergoing treatment that left her with no memory of her real identity, or how she came to be there.

Ricci has worked in recent times on the gory drama The Lizzie Borden Chronicles and Lizzie Borden Took an Ax. 

The real life Nellie Bly and her investigation caused shockwaves across the U.S, and helped to cement global reform of mental health care and services. She pioneered a new kind of investigative journalism, and she released a book, 10 Days in a Madhouse. The book inspired a 2015 film of the same name. The second season of American Horror Story chronicled character Lana Winters’ journalistic journey into the fictional Briarcliff asylum, inspired by Bly. 

When committed to the asylum, she experienced the disturbing conditions. Patients considered dangerous were tied together with ropes, while others were made to sit for hours on cold, hard benches, surrounded by rats. Nurses were abusive and obnoxious and beat residents. The food every day was almost rotting beef, gruel and dirty water. Bly wrote that some of the patients around her seemed quite sane to her. Following her time there, more money was funnelled into the health care system, and more stringent policy was put in place to ensure only the seriously mentally ill were committed. It’s a rattling story of its time, and one that Ricci can provide a gritty performance for.