(New York Comic Con) – It may be odd to say, but Wednesday cannot come soon enough. Wednesday the series, that is. The upcoming coming-of-age supernatural comedy focused on Wednesday Addams (played by Jenna Ortega) is coming to Netflix next month. Lucky guests at this year’s New York Comic Con had the chance to not only see a trailer and some exclusive footage, but also to hear the cast and team discuss the series and the franchise which they obviously have much respect for.
Awards Radar was on hand for the panel which included Ortega, Luis Guzmán, Gwendoline Christie, Fred Armisen, plus showrunners/executive producers, Al Gough and Miles Millar. The cast discussed the latest take on the creepy, kooky, spooky family, this time combined with the wild imagination of Tim Burton.
The series takes place later in life than most versions of the character with Wednesday as a high school student at Nevermore Academy. Ortega explained why she was compelled to take on the role, “I have never played a character that’s been done before. We’ve also never seen her as a teenager which was a cool little endeavor as well.”
She continued, “I felt very very lucky. I cannot think of many iconic characters or characters who have as wide of a reach as Wednesday who is also Latin. Anytime you have this opportunity to do something like this, it is a great honor and something to jump on.”
In the role of her father, Gomez Addams is the much respected Luis Guzmán who was first first unsure about a request to speak to him about a role. Guzmán’s initial response, “Tim who!?” Then it started to click, “Wait, the guy from the Batman movie? Yeah, I want to talk to him too!” Guzmán recalled the conversation with Burton when he was offered the part of Gomez. “I would love for you to be my Gomez,” he quoted Burton saying. Guzman’s response back, “I would love for you to be my Tim.”
One of the big reveals of the panel was who would be playing Gomez’s bald-headed, electricity generating brother Uncle Fester. Much to the approval of the audience, it was SNL-alum Fred Armisen. The actor/comedian explained how eager he was to be part of the project, more specifically to play Fester. “This is the kind of role, as soon as I heard about it I was like, ‘Oh, I gotta be Fester!,’ recalled Armisen.
But to do it right, Armisen had to commit, he had to go all-in. “I really wanted to do it right and not have a bald cap or anything so I just shaved my head. I loved every second of it,” he said. “I really wanted it to be a little like the original TV show, the vibe of that, the way that roll was. It’s a tradition. I think Fester is a tradition of The Adamms Family.”
In addition to Fester another memorable aspect of the Addams is the fiery romance between Gomez and Morticia (played by ). “I have the most beautiful wife as Gomez,” exclaimed Guzmán. “It was great working with Catherine – she’s beautiful, and I got to kiss her at the end of all the takes. Yeah.” In addition to being enamored by Zeta Jones, he was also impressed with her work, “She was very giving, she was spot on. It was an honor to work with her – to be in love with Morticia. That’s what Gomez is all about, he’s about the love and about the passion. And that came very easy for me.”
While the audience for the series will be quite wide, Ortega explained why it should connect well with the YA audience. “Any teenager can relate to wanting to create an identity outside of your family or kind of being thrown out into the world for the first time on your own and wanting to be independent. For Wednesday who has never needed to explain herself,” Ortega continued, “she’s still an outcast in a sea of outcasts.”
The series is set mainly at Wednesday’s school and her parents’ alma mater, which is where Gwendolyn Christie fits in as the principal and the former school rival of Morticia Addams. Christie spoke about the experience of working with Burton, “I think what’s extraordinary, there is all of that expectation, but because Tim is so collaborative – I never expected that. For someone to say, ‘What do you think?’ and ‘What do you want?’ is an amazing opportunity.” She continued, “Everybody was so collaborative and kind. And we all share the enthusiasm for The Addams Family.”
The series will certainly have more surprises, including the inclusion of a very familiar face, Christina Ricci who played Wednesday in the 1990s film versions of the franchise. It is this rich history that obviously resonated with Ortega who reflected on her experience. “Also, growing up watching (The Addams Family), it’s really wonderful to experience it in real-time and to create your own version of it with people who are really really talented,” she said. “I feel very lucky.
I hope that people realize how much care and respect went into this and how much I would like to protect this character and this family. It’s also different. It is not going to be something you have seen before. It is its own world, its own different reality. It’s very special and very odd.” (snap, snap).
Wednesday premieres on Netflix on November 23rd.