With Wednesday, which debuts this Wednesday on Netflix, creators Al Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville) bring their unique take on the beloved Gothic character.
The story follows the homicidal teen while enrolled at the peculiar Nevermore Academy, where she attempts to solve a supernatural mystery involving her parents and stop a monstrous killing spree wreaking havoc on the nearby town.
Jenna Ortega (Jane the Virgin, Scream) leads the eight-episode freshman season as Wednesday, serving up morbid one-liners with a perfectly deadpan delivery.
“She had an intensity, and she had an intelligence,” Gough tells TVLine of Ortega’s casting. “She felt like an old soul, which really is what Wednesday is. Her approach was really specific. She really worked on her posture, she really worked on the non-blinking, she really worked on how she was going to deliver the lines. She’s 95 percent of the show, and we’re shooting for eight months in Romania, so it’s a role you really inhabit, and I think she did that.”
The show features several familiar faces, including Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia; Luis Guzmán as Gomez; and Christina Ricci, who previously portrayed Wednesday in the 1991 film The Addams Family as well as its sequel Addams Family Values. In Wednesday, Ricci plays Marilyn Thornhill, an original character created for the show.
“We weren’t sure we could make it happen because Christina was shooting Yellowjackets and she was pregnant,” Gough shares. “We had to rejigger the schedule because she really wanted to do it. She worked with Tim [Burton] on Sleepy Hollow, and she loves Wednesday and really loved the idea of the project. It was really important to us that we honor the legacy of what’s happened before.”
Gough and Millar did a similar thing on the WB series Smallville, bringing in the seminal live-action Superman Christopher Reeve to appear opposite Tom Welling — who played a younger version of the character — in Season 2. “It’s a huge thing for viewers who know the originals to have that sense of nostalgia,” Gough notes, “and passing the torch to the next generation. It was really significant to us.”
Wednesday and Smallville might be considered completely different projects, but Millar noticed some parallels between them. “It’s similar in a way because you’re telling a chapter of a character’s life that’s never been told and you are trying to humanize a character who before that hadn’t really had that treatment,” he explains.
Superman was “always impenetrable, and he’s always like the Boy Scout. Nobody’s worried about Superman,” Millar adds. “I think Wednesday Addams is the same way. She was always the snarky little girl in the Addams Family who always had the zingers at the end of the scene. But nobody was ever worried about Wednesday. For us, it was: Who is this character? And more importantly, how do you tell the story about her? How do you have her be emotional, but you don’t want to betray Wednesday, either? Wednesday is very much who she is.”