It can’t be easy taking over an iconic role, as Wednesday star Jenna Ortega can attest when revealing her reaction to working opposite Christina Ricci. The upcoming Netflix show is the newest iteration of The Addams Family, which began as a comic by Charles Addams in 1938 in The New Yorker. Since then, the spookily kooky family has been adapted into sitcoms, animated shows, and films, always with Wednesday being portrayed as a child. Wednesday is forgoing the reboot trend, say its creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, but instead will build on what’s come before and will be the first time presenting the torture-obsessed character as a teenager. After being expelled from eight schools in five years, Wednesday follows the eldest Addams child as she’s transferred to Nevermore Academy, where she’ll contend with solving a murder mystery tied to her family’s history, while learning to harness her psychic powers.
Ortega’s star has been on the rise, as 2022 has seen her already appear in a slew of horror projects including Ti West’s X, Studio 666, American Carnage, and the latest Scream sequel. Ortega will be the seventh actor to play Wednesday in 48 years, a part that previously served as a breakout role for Ricci, who appeared in Barry Levinson’s The Addams Family (1991) and The Addams Family Values (1993). As previously announced, Ricci joined the cast of Wednesday in an undisclosed role. After 30 years away, she says she was enticed back by director Tim Burton, who’s helming four of the show’s eight episodes, as well as the opportunity to revisit a major part of her history.
In an interview with Empire, Wednesday star Jenna Ortega opened up about getting to work with Christina Ricci. The star was effusive in her praise of the former Wednesday, calling Ricci’s performance in the Addams Family films “flawlessly done” and “pitch-perfect,” which made it all the more terrifying for the younger actor. See what Ortega explained below:
“I felt like I was genuinely having a panic attack when I was told. I was terrified. She’s a really cool lady. I was fine meeting her, but the first time we did a scene together, and she had to see me done up the way she was done up 30 years ago, it was nerve-racking.”
Why Ortega’s Worries About Playing Wednesday Were Unfounded
By all accounts, Ortega needn’t have worried about taking on the role. Since filming, Ricci has praised Ortega’s performance, commending especially her professionalism as an actor, her love of the craft, and saying that “her Wednesday is a really, really great, smart, modern take on that character.” Having starred in her share of dark roles herself, from Burton’s Sleepy Hollow to her devious turn on Showtime series Yellowjackets, Ricci’s commendations carry weight. Burton has likewise given Ortega his stamp of approval, saying he can’t imagine any other actress playing the part. He also likened her to a silent movie star, which is high praise coming from a director whose own style has been so influenced by the German Expressionism era of silent films like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
Early viewer reactions to Ortega in Wednesday online have been almost uniformly positive, with many excited to see her take on the character. Her casting has surely been less divisive than that of Luis Guzmán as family patriarch Gomez Addams. Ricci might have an iconic take on Wednesday, but Ortega is a strong enough actor to make the role her own. Ortega’s scream queen pedigree has quickly earned her a large following of fans excited to see whatever dark role she takes on next, to Wednesday and beyond.