Selecting a star for “Wednesday” who exemplifies “Family” principles while adding her own quirky spin

The casting decision for the lead role in the new Netflix series “Wednesday” has a lot on the line. The role of raven-haired, pigtail-braided Wednesday Addams needs to go to a young girl who could rise to the occasion of playing a character from such a classic work in addition to someone who could pull off eerie, quirky, mysterious, and spooky.

In an interview with CNN, casting director John Papsidera noted, “It’s always a little bit intimidating when you start a process with such tradition and storied roles around it.”

The program is a return to the Addams Family universe, which was first seen on screen in the legendary black-and-white sitcom from the 1960s and then in the adored early 1990s movie by Barry Sonnenfeld. The world is based on cartoons by Charles Addams. In the new series, Wednesday finds herself attending the Nevermore Academy, a boarding school where any kind of freak can roam freely.

Think again if you’re anticipating a mockery of “The Addams Family,” replete with the double-snap theme song. The showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar call this a “teen-centric dark comedy,” but it is not a remake; rather, it is a deeper look at and appreciation of the notably macabre and razor-sharp older sister of the Addams family.

Gough and Millar worked with casting directors Papsidera and Sophie Holland among others to find their ideal Wednesday, and they told CNN in an email that it “was always our aim to cast a Latina woman” for the part because we wanted to respect Gomez Addams’ ethnicity.

Gomez, the family patriarch, was played by White actor John Astin in the 1960s comedy “Addams Family,” but Puerto Rican actor Raul Julia played him in the Sonnenfeld films. Veteran performer and fellow Puerto Rican Luis Guzmán plays Gomez in “Wednesday.”

In the end, teen it-girl Jenna Ortega (“Scream,” “You,” “X”), an actress of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage, was cast in the part of Wednesday’s daughter. The moment Gough and Millar saw Ortega, they claimed, they knew they had found their Wednesday.

In preparation for the casting process, “I had talked about Jenna a lot,” Papsidera recalled of Ortega. “There aren’t many girls who can take the strain of being the first on the call sheet while also being successful in their own right. A young Latina actress always comes out on top when the topic is brought up.

To “help guarantee that the scripts reflected Jenna’s specific origin,” according to Millar and Gough, the show hired a Mexican creative consultant.

“Authenticity is really important to this generation. The showrunners continued, “We were very deliberate in every area of the casting process. “We wanted to make sure that Nevermore Academy students were accurately representative of contemporary American society. It concerns the breadth of casting over the entire series, including background extras, rather than just the series regulars.

The casting team for “Wednesday” also succeeded in landing Christina Ricci, who played the part of Marilyn Thornhill in Sonnenfeld’s films in an enduring manner. Due to Ricci’s busy schedule and dedication to her popular Showtime series “Yellowjackets,” it almost didn’t happen.

It was a really nice, lengthy game, Christina, stated Papsidera. “We had always discussed her from the start.

Her schedule didn’t free up until practically the very end, at which point we changed course and “Wednesday” director Tim Burton called her to make arrangements.

Ricci and Burton previously collaborated on the 1999 movie “Sleepy Hollow,” which marks Burton’s first effort into directing a television series.

The prospect of working with Tim once more, according to Papsidera, “was perhaps the biggest bonus in our camp.” “I also think she got the concept that it was extremely significant for everyone involved, and she was taking part in something she loves too.”

Without a doubt, “Wednesday” doesn’t waste any time in covertly celebrating Ricci’s contributions to the role.

Without giving too much away, the pilot episode depicts a group of pilgrims who meet a tragic fate, which makes Ricci’s Thanksgiving scene from “Addams Family Values” from 1993 come to mind.

Holland continued, “There’s a certain serendipity to the whole series in that regard. It seems as though things have occasionally come together at the last minute, other times when we were tearing our hair out, thinking, “We can’t find this, we can’t find this. Something would then lock into place after that. And if you watch the entire series, you’ll notice that it all sort of fits together like a Rubik’s cube.

Gwendoline Christie, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Joy Sunday are among the notable actors who appear in “Wednesday.”

Burton oversaw the casting process; according to Papsidera, Burton had a distinct vision for the series and its characters.

The conversation, according to Papsidera, “sort of started and finished with what Tim observed and who he felt he was pulled to as these individuals.”

It was intended to “attempt to reimagine what it is without throwing away the spirit of it” when entering such a well-established environment, he continued.

Holland concurred, adding, “There’s some pressure because we’re fans as well.

In relation to the franchise, Holland stated that she intended to “fulfill everyone’s requirements and wants” and “take proper care of what we do.”

“You want the essence of those original characters, but you want it in a different way,”

Papsidera stated, “So that’s always the challenge and the joy when you get it.

Right now, “Wednesday” is available on Netflix.

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