“It’s a match made in heaven,” thought “Wednesday” creators, co-writers and executive producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar when deciding Tim Burton would be the perfect director for their Netflix series based on the character Wednesday Addams. “Of course we’re told Tim’s never done television,” Gough remarks. “We said, ‘If you don’t ask, the answer is no.’ So we sent the script to his agent, who read it and liked it and sent it to Tim. We just kept on working, thinking, okay we’ve thrown it out into the universe. Literally four days later the universe answered. Tim read the script. He loved it.”
The series premieres November 23 and follows Wednesday Addams’ years as a high school student at Nevermore Academy, where she attempts to master her emerging psychic ability, thwart and solve the mystery that embroiled her parents (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán). Watch our exclusive video interview above.
Rising star Jenna Ortega plays the titular role, one she has called the most demanding of her career. “She’s in 95 percent of the episodes,” Millar says. “It’s all about her. When we sat with Tim the three of us agreed, unless we find the right Wednesday there’s no show. The search for Wednesday was our primary focus for months and we saw hundreds of actresses. Even though Jenna was on our radar almost immediately, we really wanted to do a deep dive. Al and I actually did a Zoom with Jenna. When she read the scene it was just like magic. So we called Tim and said, we think we’ve found her. So we met with her together. She just possessed the role. She was not only visually perfect, but she had the right attitude, the right intelligence.”
While searching for the right place to shoot the series, the producers landed on the unconventional country of Romania. “The real signature of a Tim Burton project is the production design and the sets,” Gough reveals. “We had to find a place that could really accommodate that. Romania gave us everything we needed in terms of the large studio space to build these sets, and also, it kind of looks like New England. And there’s something slightly off about Romania. The fact that we were shooting the Wednesday Addams show adjacent to Transylvania somehow felt perfect.”
Adding a bit of nostalgia to the series is the casting of Christina Ricci, who played Wednesday in the 1991 and 1993 films “The Addams Family” and “Addams Family Values,” as Ms. Thornhill. “We all wanted her in the show,” Gough admits. “Tim had worked with her in ‘Sleepy Hollow.’ Miles and I wanted to honor those 90s movies and thought if we could get her in the show that would be a real coo. Scheduling-wise it was crazy because of ‘Yellowjackets,’ and again, we’re in Romania in the pandemic. She really loved that this was a chapter that hadn’t been told before. It wasn’t watching a version of what she had done again. When she jumped in it kind of gave the show the stamp of approval that you’re always hoping for.”
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