Jenna Ortega And Christina Ricci Agreed On The Most Difficult Part Of Playing Wednesday Addams

If Hell is a teenage girl (as Diablo Cody once observed), then the title character in "Wednesday" is about as ordinary as high schoolers come.

Created by "Smallville" and "The Shannara Chronicles" duo Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the upcoming Netflix series casts Jenna Ortega ("Scream," "X") as Wednesday, the infamously stone-faced, mayhem-loving daughter of Addams Family heads Gomez (Luis Guzmán) and Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones). It's a role that was originated in live-action by Lisa Loring, who was only six years old when she first played the Addams' ghoulish offspring on the 1960s sitcom "The Addams Family" (inspired by Charles Addams' satirically warped single-panel comics for The New Yorker). Most of the "Addams Family" movies and TV shows produced since then have similarly depicted Wednesday as a darkly comical spin on the evil kid trope established by films like "The Omen."

Christina Ricci, who many people now associate the most with the Wednesday character, was a bit of an outlier in that regard. She was already around 10 years old when she first played the role in Barry Sonnenfeld's 1991 film "The Addams Family," which meant she was a pre-teen by the time Sonnenfeld's sequel, "Addams Family Values," arrived in 1993. "Wednesday" takes things even further in that respect, casting Ortega (who turned 20 in September 2022) as a full-blown teenage version of its namesake. In a piece published by Interview Magazine, Ortega and Ricci — who, in a bit of meta-casting, costars in "Wednesday" — talked about this age change and how, slight it may seem, it makes Wednesday all the trickier a role to manage.

'You don't want her to be nasty'

The joke at the heart of the Wednesday character, much like that for the rest of the Addams Family (well, perhaps not Uncle Fester and Cousin It), is that she looks like a fairly harmless, if rather pale, girl with pigtails. But she harbors a deep fondness for murder and all things macabre. Of course, it's one thing for a child to try and murder her brother or threaten someone with violence, and play it for laughs. (Kids sure do say the darndest things, eh?) It's another thing to try and do that with a teenager, as Ortega pointed out:

"... Another thing is every time we've seen Wednesday, she's been 5 years old, 10 years old. So when someone is saying really dark, twisted things out of a place of pure honesty and innocence, that naive aspect of a child, it's a bit different when you get older and become a teenager, because then you just sound like a b***h. You don't want her to be nasty."

Ricci agreed with Ortega, having gotten a first-hand experience of what that's like back when she played Wednesday for the second time. "The note back from rehearsals was now that [Wednesday is] a teenager, it just sounds nasty and bratty," she explained. This may also account for some of the creative choices in "Addams Family Values," like how Wednesday spends most of the film at a summer camp run by obnoxiously chipper counselors, so as to make her bloodlust and moodiness all the more relatable. It absolutely works, too, because "Addams Family Values" is one of the rare sequels that outdoes its predecessor across the board.

We shall see how Ortega fares as a teen Wednesday Addams when "Wednesday" begins streaming on Netflix on November 23, 2022.