Jenna Ortega says while playing beloved Wednesday Addams in the Tim Burton-produced Netflix series Wednesdayshe became “unprofessional” in trying to make the character feel authentic to her.
In a recent appearance on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, Ortega revealed she was involved in writing in a major way Wednesday and even told Burton at one point that she didn’t want a choreographer for the show’s now-iconic dance scene.
“Everything she does, everything I had to play made absolutely no sense to her character,” Ortega said of why she put her thoughts into the script while on set. “It made no sense that she was in a love triangle. There was a line about this dress she has to wear to a school dance and she said, ‘Oh my God, I love it. Ugh, I can’t believe I said that. I literally hate myself.’ And I had to go, ‘No, there’s no way.’”
For the actress, this was seemingly such a constant problem that she became “unprofessional” at certain points in terms of traditional roles and expectations of actors versus writers on a series. “I don’t think I’ve ever had to put my foot on set the way I had to Wednesday because it’s so easy to fall into that category, especially with shows like this,” she told the podcast.
“There were times on that set when I even got almost unprofessional, in a way, I just started changing lines. The script supervisor thought I was on to something, and then I’d have to sit down with the writers and they’d say, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?’ And I would have to go through and explain why I couldn’t do certain things,” she said. “I grew very, very protective of it [Wednesday]but you can’t lead a story and have an emotional arc because then it’s boring and nobody likes you.
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Netflix for comment.
Ortega echoed comments she had previously made during a Netflix Q&A in which the actress commented that she felt “overwhelmed” by “a lot of that kind of dialogue in an attempt to make her sound human”.
Ortega also added while speaking to the podcast that some of her patronage and disagreements surrounding the character were based on Wednesday’s reality as a morbid teenage girl and the need for the show to give her an emotional arc.
“Wednesday is a teenager,” she explained. “When you’re small and you say morbid, insulting things, it’s funny and endearing. “Aww, you don’t know any better.” But then when you become a teenager, it’s, “Now you’re mean and you know it.” There is less excuse.”
Aside from the dialogues, Ortega noted that she was involved in the removal of a flash mob scene that initially stood in for her now-iconic dance sequence, and at one point told producer Burton not to hire a choreographer because she felt felt “overwhelmed” after she “stopped trusting outside opinion” about the character.
“Initially it was supposed to be a flash mob, and she would start dancing, and everyone would pick it up and start dancing with her. And I vetoed that, because why would she allow that? said the actress. “I said, ‘Cut it out or have someone knock someone out on Wednesday, and then it’s done.'”
All in all, the actress said her experience on the show left her with little confidence when she left the set. “I can’t look at my work, but I can go home from the set and say, ‘The scene we shot today felt good,'” the actress said. “On Wednesdaywasn’t there a scene in that show where I went home and thought, ‘OK, that should be good.’”
It has also made her question the source of recent professional opportunities and ultimately what she has become known for as an actress. “Now many people know me from that. It’s not my proudest moment internally, which I think also creates an extra level of uncertainty and stress,” explains Ortega. “Because it’s like, no, I’m finally getting these offers in these places that I want, but I don’t want to be specifically known for that.”
Several of Ortega’s comments about working on the hit series have garnered attention since its November release. The actress has previously explained that she performed the show’s iconic dance sequence while positive for COVID-19 and expressed in a more recent interview with Entertainment tonight that filming for the show resulted in her being unable to return to Netflix you – something that “devastates” her.