‘Wednesday’ Creators Tim Burton, Jenna Ortega Season 2 Details – IndieWire

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Welcome to It’s a Hit! In this series, IndieWire talks to the creators and showrunners behind some of our favorite television shows about the moment they realized their show was going to make it big.

“Even though we thought it was a no-brainer, a lot of people obviously didn’t,” “Wednesday” co-creator Miles Millar said of the years he and co-writer Al Gough spent trying to sell the series, which eventually became Netflix. latest global phenomenon. “We thought, ‘oh well, maybe it’ll be a YA hit, more of a hot CW show,’ but then it became much, much more. We never expected the impact and reaction it would have.”

To give a brief overview of the timeline from Gough and Millar’s perspective, they first came up with the idea of ​​an Addams Family spin-off in which Wednesday’s daughter attends a mysterious supernatural boarding school in the spring of 2019. The couple knew that Paramount had produced the live-action films of the 90s and that MGM had recently produced animated films based on the iconic Charles Addams works, but the Addams Family Foundation owned the actual IP. Gough said of their phone call to Kevin Miserocchi, who runs the foundation: “He loved it because he saw it as more sophisticated, which he really liked. He wasn’t a fan of animated films because he felt they were too childish.”

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Wednesday.  Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Wednesday's episode 104.  BC Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

With the blessing of the Addams Family Foundation, they were brought to MGM Television and the project went to market in the fall of 2019. “Netflix was the only customer, they were the most passionate,” Gough said, equating the streamer’s green light to “getting in” the No. 1 college.” However, “with all of MGM’s business machinations, he was on seller’s block at the time and everyone was circling, the deal didn’t come through, so we thought he was dead.”

Their saving grace was former MGM Television president Steve Stark, who in January 2020 invested more money in the studio to redevelop the project, allowing Gough and Millar to hire writers Kayla Alpert and April Blair to help write more scripts and break up. the whole season. By Memorial Day of the year, when they showed even more material to potential collaborators, they gained momentum and tried to recruit Tim Burton as an executive producer and director.

Alfred Gough, Miles Millar, Netflix "Wednesday"
Alfred Gough and Miles Millar attend Netflix’s ‘Wednesday’ FYC event.Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

The celebrated “Beetlejuice” filmmaker was surrounded by more than a dozen life-sized dinosaur statues at his country retreat near Oxford, England, when Gough and Millar reached him via FaceTime. “He walks around his dinosaur garden and tells us about Wednesday Addams, who he describes as his teenage crush,” Millar said, setting the scene. “And he was really passionate not only about the character, (but) about it.” Burton previously turned down offers to direct the Addams Family films of the ’90s, and an early 2010s attempt to make a stop-motion animated film about the family with Illumination never materialized. “What he liked about it all was that it was another chapter — a new chapter — and a part of the story and history of the Addams family that we’d never seen before,” Millar said.

With Burton on board, the filmmakers found “the perfect marriage between filmmaker and material,” Gough said. Netflix agreed, eventually finalizing the deal and announcing an as-yet-untitled Addams Family project helmed by the director in October 2020. According to Gough, however, the producers still knew “if we don’t get the right Wednesday, they’re dead in the water.”

The creators cast a wide net to find the star of their series, but it was clear from the beginning that Jenna Ortega was the perfect choice. “Netflix gave us a list of actresses they liked, and Jenna was definitely on that list,” Gough said. “But we wanted to go through the process of meeting with as many people as possible, just to really (make sure) we found the right Wednesday,” Millar said.

The Disney Channel star turned scream queen in the next wave, who already had “Scream” and “You” Season 2 on her resume before joining the Netflix series, spoke openly about how she made the role of “Wednesday” her own, which was Gough and Millar. they said they would welcome you. “The host of any show will be your collaborator on the show, that’s all they do. It’s just inevitable,” Gough said. “And this character, there is precision in it.” Jenna’s performance is spot-on, the character’s writing is spot-on, what Tim’s doing is spot-on, and we’ve all talked about that a lot because you’re just trying to make sure you land a really good plane. small aircraft carrier in a very large ocean.”

“What would Wednesday do?” it was a constant conversation for us. So we really enjoyed that discovery in Season 1. And then the actors find their own voice in the characters they’ve written,” Millar said. “We welcome cooperation. Not that we’re precious about it, but there’s a precision to the lines, the dialogue and the comedy that’s all written. So it’s all about clarity of communication and making everyone feel good.”

Tim Burton, Jenna Ortega
Director Tim Burton, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Wednesday.Tomasz Lazar/Netflix

While Gough and Millar, who also created “Smallville,” the long-running CW series that reimagines Superman’s origin story, joked that superheroes are predictable, the challenge of writing the lead character for their Netflix series is that “Wednesday is unpredictable. So (we’re) always thinking about what moments she would feel vulnerable, what emotions she would show or not show emotions.” He added: “Of course we took some risks with the character. We never wanted to betray you. That was something we were very aware of, and I know Jenna was too.

As for the viral dance scene that rebranded Wednesday Addams as a generational icon, Millar said Ortega’s quest to ditch the choreographer they hired and figure out the moves herself was “very Wednesday. . . it’s amazing to have that freedom, to be so creative and have that sense of freedom. And that’s why Wednesday is so authentic, and that’s why it works so well. It doesn’t seem choreographed. The character really feels it.” While they insist that this kind of standout scene can’t be created, Gough said that when he saw Ortega do it, he thought, “Oh my God, this is like the next generation of ‘Pulp Fiction’ dancing.”

While “Wednesday” boasted the likes of Gwendoline Christie, Riki Lindholme and Luis Guzman and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Gomez and Morticia Addams, there was one latecomer who gave Gough and Millar an edge and added challenge to their first time. I’m writing a runway show. Since “Wednesday” Season 1 revolves around the main characters trying to find out the identity of a murderous shape-shifter and their conspirator, the showrunners thought that the inclusion of Christina Ricci, who played Wednesday Addams in the 90s movies, would be the one. the flash of the most prominent red light – much like how in “Murder, She Wrote” the big-name guest star was always the culprit.

“We always thought it was so obvious that Christina was the (villain) and Tyler (Hunter Doohan) was the monster. He just seemed like, “Of course! We knew! But that was probably one of the most gratifying things about the show that a lot of people don’t,” Millar said. Gough revealed that his writing partner came up with a way to check their work, saying: “Miles did an impromptu scan of all eight for his teenage daughter and some friends. And they had no idea. Then we thought “now we know” because he makes up secrets. It’s like he figured out the Vecna ​​part in Stranger Things very early on.

“We had to get the stamp of approval from teenage girls who religiously watched ‘Criminal Minds’ and everything else,” Millar said. “These girls are ruthless, they check logic.”

Wednesday.  (L-R) Luis Guzmán as Gomez Addams, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia Adams in Wednesday's episode 101.  BC Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Ultimately, “Wednesday” outgrew its target audience, with Gough sharing that he knew the show’s launch on Netflix the week of Thanksgiving was doing extremely well when his 80-year-old parents told him their friends were calling them about it. Millar joked: “In terms of demographics and stuff, it’s like everyone likes it. It’s like, “Really?!” However, Gough noted that one of the advantages of the IP they built was that Charles Addams created illustrations rather than full stories. “There is no deep mythology in The Addams Family.” Remember, they were cartoon panel characters who weren’t even named until the ’60s TV show. So people really like to know more about them,” said the co-creator.

While Gough and Millar have mostly kept quiet about all the details of Season 2’s “Wednesday,” as if threatened by the intimidating character himself, they did share how one aspect of Ortega’s casting came into play. turn. “It’s so rare to find an iconic (Latino) character of this stature,” Millar said. “We’re trying to find a way to bring (this) out authentically. What would Wednesday listen to when he grows up? What would Gomez play? And finding those moments where we can really feel like a girl growing up in New Jersey with a Latino parent and how that would affect her as a teenager? We are certainly looking for more ways to explore that this season.”

With “Wednesday,” Ortega is not only the only Latino star in a TV landscape barren of community stories, but also one of the only actors under 30 among moviegoers. “It catapulted him into superstardom,” Millar said. “How can you be a movie star today? You put them in a Netflix show. This is how it happens. And I think you see that with Jenna, and it’s obviously incredibly well-deserved.”

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