‘Wednesday’ and the problem of authentically recreating the Addams Family vibe for as we speak’s tastes


There was rather a lot using on the casting alternative for the titular character of the brand new Netfilx sequence “Wednesday.” Along with somebody who may pull off creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky, the function of raven-haired, pigtail-braided Wednesday Addams wanted to go to a younger actress who may rise to the event of enjoying a personality from such an iconic property.

“It’s always a little bit daunting when you start a process with such legacy and storied roles around it,” casting director John Papsidera mentioned in a chat with CNN.

The present marks a return to the Addams Family world, based mostly on the cartoons by Charles Addams and first introduced on display within the iconic Nineteen Sixties black-and-white sitcom and later within the much-loved early 90s movies by Barry Sonnenfeld. Within the new sequence, Wednesday finds herself at a boarding faculty referred to as the Nevermore Academy the place all method of outcast and freak can roam free.

For these anticipating a tongue-in-cheek rehash of “The Addams Family” – full with the double-snap theme music – assume once more. This “teen-centric dark comedy,” as described by showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar, just isn’t a reboot, however moderately a more in-depth examination and celebration of the majorly macabre and sharp-as-a-razor older sister of the Addams clan.

In looking for their excellent Wednesday, Gough and Millar labored with casting administrators Papsidera and Sophie Holland, amongst others, and mentioned in an electronic mail to CNN that it “was always our intention to cast a Latina actress” for the function, as a result of they wished to honor Gomez Addams’s heritage. Whereas the character of household patriarch Gomez was portrayed by White actor John Astin within the “Addams Family” sitcom from the Nineteen Sixties, he was portrayed by Puerto Rican actor Raul Julia within the Sonnenfeld motion pictures. In “Wednesday,” Gomez is performed by veteran performer Luis Guzmán, additionally from Puerto Rico.

The function of daughter Wednesday finally went to teen it-girl Jenna Ortega (“Scream,” “You,” “X”), an actress of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent. Gough and Millar knew they’d discovered their Wednesday as quickly as they met Ortega, they mentioned.

“I had talked about Jenna a lot in going into (the casting process),” Papsidera mentioned of Ortega. “It’s also a thin world of girls that can be number one on the call sheet and handle the pressure of that, and also is accomplished in her own right. When you start to talk about a young Latina actress, she rises to the top of the heap.”

Millar and Gough mentioned the present employed a Mexican inventive marketing consultant to “help ensure that the scripts reflected Jenna’s specific heritage.”

“This generation is all about authenticity. We were very intentional in every aspect of the casting process,” the showrunners added. “We wanted to ensure the students at Nevermore Academy were truly reflective of modern American society. It’s not only about series regulars, it is about the depth of casting across the entire series, including background extras.”

One other coup scored by the casting staff on “Wednesday” was to snag actress Christina Ricci, who timelessly portrayed the character in Sonnenfeld’s motion pictures, within the smaller function of Marilyn Thornhill. It nearly didn’t occur, attributable to Ricci’s schedule and dedication to her hit Showtime sequence “Yellowjackets.”

“It was really a lovely long game with Christina,” Papsidera mentioned. “We had always talked about her from the beginning. And it wasn’t until almost the very end that her schedule opened up, and then we pivoted there and Tim (Burton, director of “Wednesday”) received on the telephone together with her and all of it labored out.”

Ricci and Burton, who marks his first foray into directing a tv sequence with the brand new sequence, had beforehand labored collectively on the 1999 movie “Sleepy Hollow.”

“I think the idea of working with Tim again was probably the biggest bonus in our camp,” Papsidera mentioned of touchdown the veteran actress. “I also think that she got the idea of participating in something that she loves too, that it was really special for everybody involved.”

“Wednesday” actually wastes no time in surreptitiously honoring Ricci’s contributions to the character. With out spoiling an excessive amount of, the pilot episode encompasses a group of individuals dressed as pilgrims who meet with an unlucky destiny, calling to thoughts Ricci’s more-than-memorable Thanksgiving scene in 1993’s “Addams Family Values.”

“There’s a certain serendipity to the whole series in that way,” Holland added of nabbing Ricci. “It’s like things came together sometimes very last minute, sometimes when we were pulling our hair thinking, ‘We can’t find this, we can’t find this.’ And then something would lock into place. And the whole series, you’ll see once you watch the whole thing, is that it all sort of works together almost like a Rubik’s cube.”

“Wednesday” additionally stars Gwendoline Christie, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Pleasure Sunday, amongst others.

The casting staff operated beneath the path of Burton, who Papsidera mentioned had a transparent imaginative and prescient for the present and characters.

“If anything, that’s where we all kind of started and ended our discussions – with what Tim saw and who he felt he was drawn to as these characters,” Papsidera mentioned.

Venturing into such a longtime world, the objective was to “try and reinvent what it is without throwing away the spirit of it,” he added.

“There’s a certain amount of pressure because also…we are fans,” echoed Holland.

Holland mentioned she wished to “fulfill everybody’s needs and wants” and provides “proper care to what we do” with regard to the franchise.

“You want the essence of what those original characters were, but you want it in a new way. So that’s always the challenge, and the reward when you get it,” Papsidera mentioned.

“Wednesday” is streaming now on Netflix.