Netflix’s Wednesday says she did her best not to act like Christina Ricci.
Speaking with Interview Magazine, actress Jenna Ortega explained why the new live-action interpretation of Wednesday Addams stands on its own two feet.
“It’s very different, but [Christina Ricci is] who people see as Wednesday, and that’s just the truth,” she said. “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 [Ricci’s] performance, and it was different.”
Ortega stars as a teenage Wednesday Addams in a coming-of-age mystery at her new high school, Nevermore Academy. It’s an age we’ve never seen Wednesday before… and that made things tricky.
“Another thing is every time we’ve seen Wednesday, she’s been 5 years old, 10 years old,” said Ortega. “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.”
Walking that fine line meant that Ortega’s performance was notably different from Christina Ricci, who starred as Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family and Addams Family Values. But it wasn’t so simple to carve out a unique portrayal.
“Honestly, it was more difficult than I was anticipating,” said Ortega. “Because everything that [Ricci] did is so flawless.”
Equally, it was important for Wednesday to be her own character, and that meant trying out some entirely new looks.
“It was important to Tim [Burton] that she look different than before,” she said. “There were even little tiny braids and super long, thick braids. We tried streaks of gray hair. Initially the bangs—I kind of wish they had been kept this way, but I don’t think Tim liked them very much. They were the short, high-fashion bangs like in Fargo, just psychotic.”
Eventually, they settled on growing Jenna’s hair out… and Burton loved it. “That’s what they were trying to do in terms of modernizing her,” she said. “There’s even times where I’m wearing a hoodie, it was very weird.”
Wednesday heads to Netflix on November 23, 2022. Want to read more about Wednesday? Check out Netflix’s deep dive into Wednesday as well as a teaser for the upcoming show.
Ryan Leston is an entertainment journalist and film critic for . You can follow him on Twitter.