Little did she know she would be stepping into a nightmare.
Season One of Netflix’s Addams Family adaptation, Wednesday, was an absolute mega-hit in 2022, leading to an inevitable renewal for a follow-up season, as well as some of the most delightful fan creations you will ever see.
You’d think the people involved would be ecstatic with its success, but the star at the heart of things isn’t quite so sure. In a recent interview with The Times UK, the actress behind the titular Wednesday Addams, Jenna Ortega, confessed that it took a great deal of convincing for her to sign on in the first place.
“I got the email, passed on it,” Ortega said. “I had done so much TV in my life. All I’ve ever wanted to do is film… You have to prove yourself. It’s only in the last three or four years that I’ve been able to start going up for film. I was scared that by signing on to another television show it could prevent me from doing other jobs I really wanted and cared about.”
It was only due to the involvement of Tim Burton as executive producer that Ortega would eventually relent, with the project’s subsequent prosperity becoming a point of contention she was none too fond of.
“I thought it wasn’t going to be watched,” she continued. “That it will be a nice little gem that someone finds, but [most people don’t].”
When prompted whether she would have preferred the show to not have been quite so successful, Ortega answered in the affirmative.
Her distaste for her notoriety comes down to her previous history as a Disney star, following on from her turn as Harley Diaz in the Disney Channel series Stuck in the Middle. She professed that she had been treated as “a people’s princess”, and that she “didn’t really feel like myself”, appreciating a return to a degree of normalcy as her public image faded into the background.
Ortega has been quite candid about Wednesday in the past, pulling no punches in regard to the quality of writing in an interview on the Armchair Expert podcast.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had to put my foot down more on a set in a way that I had to on Wednesday,” she revealed. “Everything [she] does, everything I had to play, did not make sense for her character at all. Her being in a love triangle? It made no sense.
“There were times on that set where I even became almost unprofessional in a sense where I just started changing lines.”
Her openness has not been universally appreciated across the industry, with Steven DeKnight (who has written and directed for programs such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Spartacus) calling her out on Twitter.
DeKnight has since walked back his comments somewhat, confessing that “writers are on edge because of the impending strike, myself included” and dubbing Ortega “an amazing talent”. He did maintain that “it was just an unfortunate situation to expose creative differences publicly”.
Whatever your viewpoint is on Ortega’s stance and her willingness to discuss it, the Wednesday machine shows no sign of stopping, and lo and behold, we’re talking about it again now, aren’t we? Perhaps we ought to recollect the old show business adage that “no publicity is bad publicity”.
Season One of Wednesday is currently available to view on Netflix.