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‘Wednesday’ Interview: Jenna Ortega on Playing the Iconic Role in Netflix’s Modern-Day Mystery Series

Wednesday Addams returns in the upcoming supernatural comedy from Tim Burton!

Pale in black with a deadpan expression, morbid tastes, and cold comebacks, Wednesday Addams is back on the screen and this time, she’s out to solve a dark mystery revolving around her new school, the Nevermore Academy.

In Netflix’s upcoming series Wednesday, the young lady of the Addams Family is sent to her parents’ alma mater after she causes another trouble in her latest school (piranhas and swimming pools don’t really go together). In Nevermore Academy– a school for outcasts, freaks, and monsters– Morticia and Gomez Addams expect their daughter to fit right in. But as Wednesday tries to prove them wrong, her psychic abilities and her parents’ own past would get her embroiled in a school mystery involving a dangerous monster that attacks Nevermore students.

Watch the trailer for Wednesday below:

Before this new series from director Tim Burton drops on Netflix this November 23, we got the chance to virtually chat with its lead star in a roundtable interview. In this interview, Jenna Ortega talks about bringing the iconic character back, what she would do if she meets Wednesday, and more! Check out the highlights of the interview below:

Wednesday is such an iconic character, how did it feel playing her character?

Jenna Ortega: Terrifying, especially working with someone like Tim Burton for the first time, who is a legend. You never really know what to expect and you want to do a good job. I respect this character so much that I just wanted to do her right.

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It’s definitely nerve-racking especially when you’re trying to figure out what the tone of the show is, and you just got into a foreign country, and you’re trying to pick up all of these skills. It was very easy to get overwhelmed, but sometimes you just have to put that stuff aside and realize it’s go-time, and I think I just tried to put my head down and put in as much work as possible and I hope that it’s received well.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

What did you work on the hardest in playing the modern-day Wednesday Addams?

Jenna Ortega: I feel like personality-wise, I focused a lot on trying to protect her emotional arc, and making sure that anytime she was vulnerable it was well-deserved. And I think for any hobby or additional thing that I learned, I feel like I was pretty hard on myself about the cello. I really wanted to get that right.

Did you get guidance from Christina Ricci who played Wednesday before and also stars in this series as Ms. Thornhill?

Jenna Ortega: None at all. We didn’t talk about Wednesday once. And it’s funny, I think [that’s the] assumption, but there’s a part of me that really didn’t want to and we met each other and I think it was very clear that she didn’t want to either.

You know our Wednesdays are very different, and if anything I was more interested in where she was from, what her deal was, and what her experiences were. I think we relate a lot, and I think we got along really well. When you don’t talk about the fact that she’s been in the same exact getup as you before, it makes it a lot easier to do your scenes and treat each other like regular people and not somebody you looked up to your entire life.

Wednesday has a lot of witty lines and clapbacks in the show. Do you have a favorite line from her?

Jenna Ortega: One of my favorites is when she has to go to a school dance, and she has to go get this dress and Enid says, “Oh, do you know what you need?” and [Wednesday] says, “A bullet to the head.” That’s one of my favorite lines because it’s so true and it also sounds like something I’ve said before so I felt that one pretty intensely.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

How did filming go for all of Wednesday’s scenes with the dismembered hand, Thing?

Jenna Ortega: It actually wasn’t too difficult. I feel like a lot of times, I act all the time even though maybe I shouldn’t be. I take any opportunity that I can, like if I’m home alone doing the dishes. So I think talking to nothing was actually pretty easy.

But fortunately, a lot of the time, I did have an actor. It was hard because he couldn’t necessarily fit in all of the shots. His name is Victor, he was a magician, he wore a full blue suit and I was followed around by a blue man. So he would walk behind me and we had these things called wild desks or wild beds, and there were cutouts in the mattress, so he could lay in there and crawl on the bed, or there were holes missing on the side of drawers so that he could stick his hand through. I’ve never done something like that before, but he was really really great and it felt like acting with another actor especially when he’s communicating with you like that so I feel very lucky to have had that experience as well.

Having starred in slashers Scream and X, and now in the supernatural comedy Wednesday, do you think you have certain expectations when working on horror titles?

Jenna Ortega: I think it’s a little bit different every time because, with different characters, you kind of want to approach [them] differently. I think I’m fortunate enough to play teen girls that don’t always necessarily resemble one another and I like to approach all of my characters with the same level of respect and care. I’m really lucky though because horror is so much fun, it’s really easy to kind of take risks, and explore, and do new things. Fortunately, in any of the horror sets that I’ve been on, I’ve been encouraged to do that which has been really really nice.

How challenging was it to keep Wednesday’s deadpan expressions while still evoking emotions in certain scenes?

Jenna Ortega: Yeah, I feel like the challenging part was more of the emotions. I think it’s pretty easy for me to be deadpan, especially because I think that naturally, I kind of have that face. I feel like a lot of people think that I don’t like them instantly because of my expression. The emotion more than anything was difficult just because you wanted to know when was the right time to do it, and why she was doing it, and how much was too much and how little was too little. You could never really tell with that one.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

What’s your main takeaway and what do you want the viewers to pick up from the show?

Jenna Ortega: I hope that the audiences learn that maybe the best way to confront anything in life is just by being yourself and not changing anything about you for the satisfaction or comfort of others. Because it’s unnecessary, it gets you nowhere, and it’s a lot cooler when you don’t do that. So I think that’s something to learn, and also maybe make a couple of friends if you’re going to fight a serial killer monster.

Also, I think my biggest takeaway from this role is I spent so much time with this character I learned how to use my voice and fight for characters in a way that I hadn’t before, and as an actress that’s kind of everything and I’m excited to be able to have that tool now and use it in other sets in the future.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

If you were to meet Wednesday Addams in real life, how do you think would you react towards her, and do you think you would befriend her?

Jenna Ortega: Yes, but I think I would know that it would be very difficult to become friends with her. So I think I would just stalk her from a distance and then maybe start sending her things and getting involved. I think that would be a more interesting approach, I feel like then she would like me. I’d be very intimidated though, I think, but I kinda like that, I like it when people are a little scary.

Wednesday also stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Luis Guzman, Gwendoline Christie, and Emma Myers. The series drops on Netflix this November 23.

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