Jenna Ortega on the spooky challenges of playing a teenage Wednesday Addams
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In the upcoming Netflix show Wednesday, Scream actress Jenna Ortega plays a teenage version of Wednesday Addams, the iconic, death-obsessed, and hilariously deadpan daughter from The Addams Family cartoons, TV show, and films.
"We've never seen her as a teenage girl," Ortega recently told EW, over the phone from Romania, where she is shooting the show. "You know, it's funny and sweet and almost charming to hear this eight-year-old's obsession with murder and blood and guts. As she gets older, that nasty attitude or [those] biting remarks, it's almost kind of hard to not make it sound like every other teenage girl. So, it's like, how do we establish this character and give her the same fire without letting her become something that she's not? Also, it's eight-hour series so, for an emotionless character, there has to be some sort of an emotional arc. That's been really interesting to figure out in terms of, okay, well, she's got to be able to push the story forward in some way but how do we keep her true to her deadpan self? It's been a bit of a challenge and I'm curious to see how it plays. I've never had the opportunity to play an iconic character before. I know she's well-loved and well-respected and I just don't want to mess her up."
The good news? Ortega has been assisted in her portrayal by Beetlejuice, Ed Wood, and Batman director Tim Burton, who knows a thing or two about dark material.
"That has been really incredible, just being such a fan of his work prior, but also getting to know him and realizing he's the most detail-oriented director I'll ever work with," says Ortega. "He's also one of the sweetest directors I think I'll ever work with. I'm really blown away by how collaborative he is and how kind he is."
Ortega will next be seen in director Ti West's horror film X (out March 18), about an adult film shoot in rural Texas which goes horribly awry.
"I play this character named Lorraine, who's a conservative southern Christian girl who's thrown into an adult film production and it's kind of jarring and exciting for her," says Ortega. "They rent out this farmhouse to shoot an adult film for the weekend. Everybody is going into this with really high hopes, and the older couple they rented it from is maybe not the most inviting, and maybe a little bit too curious about what's going on. [The script was] the most outrageous thing I've ever read."
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