Everyone knows that the Addams Family are creepy and kooky — not to mention mysterious and spooky—but what you may not be aware of is that their new animated movie is altogether timely. Opening in theaters on Oct. 11, the first feature-length Addams Family cartoon is a parable for the immigration debate that’s still raging around the country. “It’s definitely in there,” confirms Oscar Isaac, who voices family patriarch, Gomez Addams, opposite Charlize Theron as his beloved bride, Morticia. “Bring down that wall! That should be on the poster — sorry, MGM.” (Watch our interview above.)
Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, the latest screen adaptation of cartoonist Charles Addams’s classic creations begins with an origin story for the titular family. Gomez and Morticia are happily living in their native land, when a small army of scared citizens literally runs them out of town. Eventually, the duo settle down in a beautifully macabre manor in the wilds of... New Jersey. It’s here that they raise their two kids, Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard), with occasional assistance from Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) and family butler Lurch (Vernon). Happily ensconced in their mansion, Gomez and Morticia have no desires to reconnect with the outside world — until the outside world comes to them in the form of Margaux Needler (Allison Janney), the big-haired doyenne of a nearby small town and host of a popular home-improvement reality show. One look at the Addams’s dilapidated digs is enough to convince her that they aren’t the kind of family she wants as neighbors, and she promptly launches a campaign to make them a target of hatred and fear within her community.
In case you’re wondering, the fact that the movie’s villain is a power-mad reality-show host with crazy hair isn’t accidental. And the real world parallels definitely weren’t lost on the film’s stars, both of whom hail from immigrant families. Isaac was born in Guatemala, and arrived in the U.S. before his first birthday, while Theron was born and raised in South Africa, moving here as a teenager with her mother. “Language was a big [barrier] for me, because I didn’t really speak English all that well,” the Oscar-winning actress remembers of her assimilation experience. “But I also have to be completely honest in the fact that I was a white person, so there’s a privilege that comes with that that you can’t deny. So I’m incredibly empathetic to the time that we find ourselves in right now, and this question that we’re throwing out there through our administration and the world right now of not wanting to be inclusive and [thinking] that the answer is in building walls.”
Both Theron and Isaac hope that The Addams Family can, in a small way, change hearts and minds that may be hardened to the idea of welcoming more immigrants into the U.S. “I think a lot of that stuff comes from fear,” Theron notes. “This film breaks all of that down.” And Isaac credits the source material for allowing the film to make its pro-immigration case. “That was the genius originally with Charles Addams and these cartoons: taking something that is scary ... and making a family unit out of those things as an allegory for the weirdness of what a family already is. [We’re] taking that idea and really broadening it to what if they’re an immigrant family and they’ve come over here? I think it’s a really moving story.”
The Addams Family opens in theaters on Oct. 11.
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