Taking on a role made iconic by another actor is a challenge at the best of times, let alone when that actor is appearing alongside you. When you think of Wednesday Addams, you likely think of Christina Ricci’s wonderfully deadpan performance in Barry Sonnenfeld’s The Addams Family and Addams Family Values, but now it’s Jenna Ortega’s time to shine.
Jenna Ortega stars in Wednesday, Tim Burton’s upcoming series for Netflix, which focuses on a teenage Wednesday Addams and her time as a student at Nevermore Academy. As it happens, Christina Ricci is also part of the cast, although the nature of her character remains a mystery. While speaking with Empire, Ortega revealed just how terrified she was when she learned she’d be sharing the screen with Christina Ricci in Wednesday.
“I felt like I was genuinely having a panic attack when I was told,” Ortega said. “I was terrified. She’s a really cool lady. I was fine meeting her, but the first time we did a scene together and she had to see me done up the way she was done up 30 years ago, it was nerve-racking.” Given how perfectly Ricci played the role all those years ago, Ortega added that it was “really important to me that I wasn’t ripping anyone off. Christina Ricci’s performance is flawlessly done. It’s pitch-perfect and I wouldn’t change anything about it, which is another reason it was hard for me to do this job.” Although it’s hard to follow in Ricci’s footsteps, Ortega said that the new series will give us a Wednesday that we’ve never seen before. “We’ve never seen Wednesday as a teenage girl,” Ortega said. “When you get older and you say these sarcastic, bitchy one-liners, it can come off less charming and more rude or obnoxious. That was something I was really wary of.“
In addition to Jenna Ortega and Christina Ricci, Wednesday also features Luis Guzmán as Gomez Addams and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia Addams, as well as Gwendoline Christie, Riki Lindhome, Jamie McShane, and more. All eight episodes of Wednesday will debut on Netflix on November 23rd.