Jenna Ortega
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Awards ‘Wednesday’ Creators Tease ‘Inevitable’ Jenna Ortega Collaboration & Season 2 Surprises

‘Wednesday’ Creators Tease ‘Inevitable’ Jenna Ortega Collaboration & Season 2 Surprises

Jenna Ortega

Welcome to It’s a hit! In this series, IndieWire talks to the creators and showrunners behind some of our favorite TV shows about the moment they realized their show was getting big.

“Even though we thought it was a no-brainer, a lot of people clearly didn’t,” said ‘Wednesday’ co-creator Miles Millar of his and writing partner Al Gough’s long experience trying to sell the series that would eventually become Netflix’s new global phenomenon. “We thought, ‘Oh well maybe it’s going to be a YA hit, more like an elevated CW show,’ but then it became much, much more than that. We never anticipated the level of impact and reaction it had.”

To briefly cover the timeline from Gough and Millar’s point of view, they first came up with the idea of ​​an Addams Family spin-off in which daughter Wednesday goes to a supernatural boarding school full of mysteries in the spring of 2019. The couple knew that Paramount had made the ’90s Live Action Movie and that MGM was making the recent animated film franchise based on the iconic creations of Charles Addams, but it was the Addams Family Foundation that owned the current IP . Describing their phone call to introduce the show to Kevin Miserocchi, who runs the foundation, Gough said: ‘He really loved it because he saw it as more sophisticated, which is what he really liked. He wasn’t a fan of animated films because he felt they were too much for children.”

The Addams Family Foundation’s blessing landed them with MGM Television, and the project went to market in the fall of 2019. “Netflix was the only buyer, they were the most passionate,” Gough said, equating the streamer’s go-ahead. to” get into our top-choice university. “.

Their saving grace became Steve Stark, former president of MGM Television, who asked the studio to invest more money to re-develop the project in January 2020, allowing Gough and Millar to hire writers Kayla Alpert and April Blair to help. to write more scripts and break up the entire season. By Memorial Day of that year, with more material in tow to show potential collaborators, they made a big splash looking to recruit Tim Burton as executive producer and director.

Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Netflix "Wednesday"
Alfred Gough and Miles Millar attend Netflix’s ‘Wednesday’ FYC event.Philip Faraone/Getty Images

The celebrated “Beetlejuice” director was joined by more than a dozen life-size dinosaur sculptures at his country retreat near Oxford, England, when Gough and Millar reached out via FaceTime. “He’s wandering around his dinosaur garden telling us about Wednesday Addams, who he describes as his teenage crush,” Millar said, setting the scene. “And he was really passionate about not just the character,[but]this performance.” Burton had previously turned down offers to direct 1990s Addams Family films, and an early 2010 attempt to make a stop-motion animated film about the family with Illumination never materialized. “What he really liked about this was that it was a different chapter, a new chapter, and a part of the Addams Family story and history that we hadn’t seen before,” Millar said.

With Burton now on board, the creators have found “the perfect marriage of director and material,” Gough said. Netflix agreed, finally finalizing the deal and announcing the yet-untitled Addams Family project to be directed by the director in October 2020. However, according to Gough, the producers still knew that “if we don’t get Wednesday right, you’re dead in the water.” .

The creators cast a wide net to find the star of their series, but it was clear from the start that Jenna Ortega was the perfect fit. “Netflix had given us a list of actresses they liked and Jenna was definitely on that list,” Gough said. “But we wanted to go through the process of seeing as many people as possible, just to really (be sure) that we found the right Wednesday,” Millar said.

The Disney Channel star turned next wave scream queen, who already had ‘Scream’ and ‘You’ Season 2 on her resume before joining the Netflix series, spoke openly about how she made the role of ‘Wednesday’ her own ”, something Gough and Millar said they welcomed. “The star of any show becomes your collaborator in the show, they just do it. It’s just inevitable,” Gough said. “And this character, there’s a precision to it. There’s a precision to playing Jenna, there’s a precision to how the character is written, there’s a precision to what Tim does, and we’ve all had a lot of conversations about that because you’re just trying to make sure to land the aircraft on a very small aircraft carrier in a very large ocean”.

“’What would you do on Wednesday?’ it was a constant conversation for us. So that exploration is something we really enjoyed about season one. And then also the actors finding their own voice within the characters that are written,” Millar said. “We welcome the collaboration. and in the comedy which is all scripted. So it’s about clarity of communication and making everyone feel comfortable.”

Tim Burton, Jenna Ortega
Director Tim Burton, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in ‘Wednesday’.Thomas Lazar/Netflix

While Gough and Millar, who also created the long-running CW series “Smallville” by reimagining Superman’s origin story, have joked that superheroes are predictable, the challenge in writing the lead for their Netflix series is that “Wednesday it is unpredictable. So (we’re) always trying to figure out when he would feel vulnerable or show emotion or not show emotion. He added, “We definitely took risks with the character. We never wanted to cheat on her. It was something we were very aware of, and I know Jenna was, too.

Regarding the viral dance scene that once again made Wednesday Addams a generational icon, Millar said Ortega’s drive to give up working with the choreographer they’d recruited and figure out movement on her own was “very similar to Wednesday. . . it’s amazing to have the freedom to do that, to be so creative and to have that sense of freedom. And that’s why it’s so authentic for Wednesday, and why it works so well. It doesn’t look choreographed. It really looks out of character. While they insist the kind of amazing scene can’t be produced, Gough said when she saw Ortega attempt it, she was like, “Oh my God, this looks like the next generation of ‘Pulp Fiction’ dance.”

While “Wednesday” boasted a cast that included Gwendoline Christie, Riki Lindholme and Luis Guzman and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Gomez and Morticia Addams, there was a latecomer who proved both a boon and an added challenge for the first time by Gough and Millar. write a yellow. With the first season of “Wednesday” centered around the protagonists trying to uncover the identity of a homicidal shapeshifter and their co-conspirator, the showrunners thought the addition of Christina Ricci to the cast, who famously played Wednesday Addams in the films of the 1990s, would be “the most obvious red light flashing,” similar to how the culprit in “Murder, She Wrote” was always the big-name guest star.

“We always thought it was so obvious that Christina was the (bad guy) and Tyler (Hunter Doohan) was the monster. He just looked like ‘Sure! We knew it!’ But it was probably one of the most rewarding things about the show that a lot of people didn’t do,” Millar said. Gough revealed his writing partner figured out a way to check his own work, saying, “Miles had an impromptu screening of all eight for his teenage daughter and some of his friends. And they didn’t guess it. And then we were like, ‘We’re safe now,’ because she understands mysteries. As if she understood Vecna’s bit in ‘Stranger Things’ very early on.

“We had to get the seal of approval from teenage girls who religiously watched ‘Criminal Minds’ and all that,” said Millar. “Those girls are ruthless, they control logic.”

Wednesday.  (Left to right) Luis Guzmán as Gomez Addams, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia Adams in episode 101 of Wednesday.  Cr.  Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Ultimately, “Wednesday” surpassed its intended audience, with Gough sharing that he knew the Thanksgiving week show’s launch on Netflix had gone exceptionally well when his 80-year-old parents told him their friends li that’s why they were calling. Millar joked, “In terms of demographics and stuff like that, it’s like everybody likes it. It’s like, ‘Really?!’” But Gough noted that one advantage of the particular IP they’re building from is that Charles Addams was creating illustrations, not full stories. “There is no deep mythology in the Addams Family. Remember, they were characters in cartoon panels that weren’t even named until the TV show in the ’60s. So people really like to learn more about them,” the co-creator said.

While Gough and Millar remain mostly silent on any details about what could happen in season 2’s ‘Wednesday,’ as if under threat from the intimidating character himself, they shared as one aspect of Ortega’s casting for the role got their wheels turning. “It’s so rare to find an iconic (Latino) character of this stature,” Millar said. “We really try to find ways to[feature it]in an authentic way. What would he listen to on Wednesday when he was growing up? What would Gomez play? And find moments where we could actually make her feel like a girl growing up in New Jersey with a Latino parent, and how would that resonate with her as a teenager? We’re certainly looking at other ways to explore that this season.”

With “Wednesday,” Ortega is not only one of the only Latina stars in a television landscape devoid of that community’s history, but she’s also become one of the few actresses under 30 who are in high demand with viewers. “She catapulted her into superstardom,” Millar said. “How does one become a movie star today? You put them on a hit Netflix show. That’s how it happens. And I think you see that with Jenna, and obviously it’s incredibly well deserved.

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