Jenna Ortega Says She First ‘Passed’ on Portraying Wednesday Addams in Netflix Hit
The actress recounted her decision to turn down the role and director Tim Burton not once but 'a couple of times.'
Jenna Ortega revealed she almost chose not to play Wednesday Addams in the Netflix hit, and her decision had nothing to do with blood, gore, or having to tap into her dark side for the role.
The 20-year-old actress told The Times UK that she turned down the role not once, not twice, but "a couple" of times.
"I got the email, passed on it. I had done so much TV in my life, all I’ve ever wanted to do is film," she explained, "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."
So what caused her sudden change of heart? Well, it may have to do with her enjoyment of the creepy and paranormal aspects found in horror and her respect for the series' director, Tim Burton.
"I used to be a huge scaredy-cat. Then I became a teenager. And I’ve always been very interested in gore," she confessed. "I don’t know why, it’s just this thing I can’t turn away from."
Related: Christina Ricci Reveals If She Gave Jenna Ortega Any Advice on Playing Wednesday Addams
Lucky for her, her passion for the genre has worked out. "For some reason, people see my face and want to throw blood on it … I don’t know what it is. I’ve had a horror director tell me once my eyes looked like they could be very innocent. It was never intentional, but it’s really fun."
The actress also admitted her eventual draw to the project had much to do with her respect for Burton, "Tim is such a legend, and we just happened to get along very well," she told the outlet, "But even then, I said, 'Ah, no — I think I’m OK,' a couple [more] times."
And while fans of the record-breaking series can't picture anyone else in its titular role, Ortega was undoubtedly surprised by the show's acclaim.
"I didn’t expect the reaction. The [Wednesday] cast and I, I remember, we used to talk about it in Romania [where the show was filmed], we were like, ‘Hey, what do you think will happen with the show?’ That was it, that was the most we ever really got into it. So I thought it wasn’t going to be watched. That it will be a nice little gem that someone finds, but [most people don't]."
Contrary to the cast's anticipation of the show's reception, Wednesday quickly took off, with one scene, in particular, going viral on TikTok: Ortega's own choreography in Episode 4.
"When they were telling me [it was going viral], I was trying to seem uplifted about it, like, ‘Oh, wow!’ But mentally, in my head, I was hoping people wouldn’t pay so much attention to that part. It’s disorientating. I don’t think people are naturally designed to have that many eyes on them."
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The actress has slowly grown accustomed to the fame that comes with starring on a hit Netflix show. Getting her first taste as a child star on the Disney Channel Stuck in the Middle, she has since expanded her career to include a global TV hit, a Saturday Night Live hosting gig and some film credits, assuming the role of Tara Carpenter in Scream VI.
As for what's next, she said she wants to balance time with friends and time spent at work–a sentiment many of us can relate to. "To specify, I’m not completely alone, I do have my core people I’ve known since I was four or five years old, and they’re beautiful and wonderful and amazing. I'm totally good."
To catch up with all of Ortega's recent roles, you can stream Wednesday exclusively on Netflix or head to theaters to see Scream VI; the new slasher movie is set to make its streaming debut on Paramount+ later this year.
Next, 'Wednesday' on Netflix! Everything We Know So Far About Season 2, Including Renewal News.