Wednesday's Jenna Ortega Explains To Addams Family Vet Christina Ricci The Challenges Of Reinterpreting The Classic Role For Netflix

Jenna Ortega on Wednesday
(Image credit: Netflix)

It’s almost time to enjoy being reacquainted with Wednesday Addams when Netflix’s horror comedy Wednesday drops in November. Jenna Ortega is taking over the role  to bring a Latina spin to the macabre teen, and the former Disney Channel star is opening up about the challenges of reinterpreting the beloved character with none other than the character's prior live-action actress, Christina Ricci.

Even though Ortega was terrified about Ricci being on the set of Wednesday after the latter signed on with a new role, it seems like those nerves have since been buried away in the yard somewhere. The two actresses took part in a one-on-one interview for Interview Magazine, where they talked about their experiences as child stars along with the upcoming Netflix Original, which boasts Tim Burton behind the camera as director. Considering The Addams Family has gone through numerous transformations over the years, Ricci asked Ortega about reinterpreting Wednesday, and the Scream star didn't try to hide how challenged she felt by it, on top of lauding Ricci's performance as being flawless. In her words:

Yes, very different, but I’m just saying you are who people see as Wednesday, and that’s just the truth. I feel like the script was very reminiscent of ’90s Wednesday. It was really important to me that I wasn’t doing a knockoff of your performance, and it was different. Another thing is every time we’ve seen Wednesday, she’s been 5 years old, 10 years old. So when someone is saying really dark, twisted things out of a place of pure honesty and innocence, that naive aspect of a child, it’s a bit different when you get older and become a teenager because then you just sound like a bitch. You don’t want her to be nasty.

Wednesday is a mid-stage teenager in this new series, and will be sent off to a boarding school amidst a growing murder mystery, which is already a bit different than what fans are accustomed to from the altogether ooky family. But it’s great to hear that this Wednesday shares vibes with the ‘90s version, famously brought to life in both of Barry Sonnenfeld's films by Ricci. Portraying a character that is so beloved in general, and also has memorable past iterations, is definitely an uphill climb for any actor, but Jenna Ortega’s snappy take on the character is already proving to be eye-catching, as seen in trailers for the series.

Ortega also mentioned how hard it was to carve out her path with the character, with the different notes she would get from Tim Burton and other directors clashing together, on top of having to get proficient with Wednesday's various hobbies. But it was important to her that she created something special with her version. She said:

Yeah, it was very stressful. I’m so glad you mentioned the multiple directors thing because Tim didn’t shoot all of the episodes. We were going from Tim to another director, back to Tim, to another director. I felt like everybody wanted different things from her. I remember Tim did not want me to have any expression or emotion at all. He wanted a flat surface, which I understand. It’s funny and great, except when you’re trying to move a plot along, and Wednesday is in every scene. There were a lot of battles like that because I felt like people didn’t always trust me when I was creating my path in terms of, 'Okay, this is her arc. This is where she gets emotional.' And then also, we jump into the first episode, and so much is happening. You have to introduce the whole story. Meanwhile, I’m still finding my footing, and then it’s the cello lessons and the archery lessons and this and that.

With Tim Burton at the helm of multiple Wednesday installments, and Jenna Ortega leading the charge, it seems like it’s going to be a solid entry into the overall franchise. And since Christina Ricci co-stars in Wednesday as well, fans can look forward to see two generations sharing the screen. Creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar previously explained how this latest trip into Addams lore will be different from other Addams Family versions, with Millar pointing out that it doesn’t feel like a reboot or remake, but rather its own thing. And I'm definitely excited to see the final product.

Obviously, it’s hard to tell how Wednesday will live up to its predecessors until the series premieres on November 23 for those with Netflix subscriptions! Check out what other shows are coming to Netflix soon and what your next binge-able obsession will be! Be sure to also check out where to watch The Addams Family shows and movies in anticipation for the new series.

Megan Behnke
Freelance TV News Writer

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.