The Netflix series Wednesday posits a Wednesday Addams who’s grown up a little. Jenna Ortega plays Wednesday as a teenager. It’s such a distinct role that the character received her own casting credit, distinct from the rest of the cast. Creators Al Gough and Miles Millar explained why.
Gough and Millar were guests on The Hollywood Reporter’s TV’s Top Five podcast on Oct. 28 to preview the series. They explained the casting of Ortega and why Wednesday got her own casting director. Wednesday is now streaming on Netflix.
Casting Wednesday Addams predates the rest of the ensemble
Wednesday began with the title character. So, casting directors who worked on Wednesday the first few years may not have been available to cast the rest of the roles.
“Well, the search went on, and we started looking for Wednesday obviously before we started looking for the rest of the cast, which I think is how that credit came to be,” Gough said on TV’s Top Five. “I agree, it’s certainly one we hadn’t seen before either.”
“We saw hundreds and hundreds of young actresses for the show,” Gough said. “But when we found Jenna, she was just perfect. The first time we talked to her was on Zoom and she was in New Zealand shooting X and she’d been up all night. Even just talking to her, and then she did a scene just over Zoom and we were all like she’s the one. Miles, myself, and Tim [Burton], we all kind of knew it immediately. It’s just one of those things. You know she’s out there and you just have to find her.”
‘Wednesday’ required a Wednesday Addams casting director
Millar also emphasized why the role of Wednesday was exponentially more important to this particular take on The Addams Family. Since they based the show on Wednesday, they needed to devote more resources to Wednesday Addams.
Also, this show is all about her so without finding the right Wednesday there’s no show. She’s in 95% of the show. It’s a marathon for her to do. It’s an incredibly complex role actually because you’re a contrarian. Every reaction you have isn’t really what you’d normally do as an actress. She’s really specific as a character. That was something Jenna just took on board. Not method but she became Wednesday. And her posture was Wednesday. I think it’s a character you have to inhabit so it’s a lot. It was a lot to take on. It’s also very verbose. She doesn’t say a lot but every scene is just reams of dialogue. So I think for her, it really was an incredible feat of precision. She’s a perfectionist. You see that and so is Wednesday so I think you see that level of dedication in her performance which is really remarkable for someone of her age.
Miles Millar, TV’s Top Five, 10/28/22
Jenna Ortega impacted the ‘Wednesday’ scripts
Once Ortega embodied the role of Wednesday Addams, Gough and Millar realized they’d overwritten it. Ortega could say something with a look that required no dialogue.
“That was a constant process,” Gough said. “What we do is we meet every morning with her and Tim and go through the scenes. As Jenna got in the role and we got to see it, obviously we could go to the scripts in the future and make adjustments knowing what we would and wouldn’t need. Every day we’d get in there and be honing and tuning.”
Millar added, “It was definitely a process of elimination. There are a lot of actually really great lines that we didn’t need. It was too much. The weight of lines felt too heavy. That was something sad and new to us, having to cut but in the end it was actually a very good process. It was certainly a way of exploring the character and really finding that voice.”