10 behind-the-scenes secrets you probably didn’t know about ‘Wednesday’ season 1

Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Netflix's "Wednesday."
Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s “Wednesday.”

  • Warning: Spoilers ahead for season one of “Wednesday.”
  • Insider rounded up many of the best fun facts about filming Netflix’s surprise hit TV show.
  • From Jenna Ortega’s gory audition to the special effects used for Thing’s scenes, learn more here.

Jenna Ortega auditioned over Zoom for the role of Wednesday Addams while covered in fake blood.

Jenna Ortega in "X"
Jenna Ortega in the film “X.”

Ortega actually auditioned for the role of Wednesday while filming the horror movie “X” in Wellington, New Zealand.

Right after shooting her death scene for the film, the actor hopped on a Zoom call with “Wednesday” executive producer and director Tim Burton, she revealed in an interview with Wired.

“It was funny because when I met Tim Burton for my Wednesday audition, I had just finished doing that,” Ortega said. “So I had stage blood and glycerin sweat in my hair and a massive cut on my face and had been up for over 24 hours.”

Ortega added: “I got on the Zoom and he actually laughed. It made me laugh. I thought it was endearing.”

Despite her impressive cello performances, Ortega had never touched the instrument before.

Jenna Ortega took cello lessons for "Wednesday"
Jenna Ortega took cello lessons for “Wednesday.”

Although Ortega stunned viewers during her cello scenes, she acknowledged during her interview with Wired that she actually had no prior experience playing the instrument.

Instead, Ortega picked up the cello and began lessons roughly two months before filming began. (She even tweeted several photos from her practice sessions.)

“I probably couldn’t play too well now just because I’ve been away from home so much working, and it is something that I want to continue to pursue,” Ortega added. “I have immense respect for anybody who plays the cello. I think it’s such a delightful instrument.”

Christina Ricci reportedly replaced Thora Birch late into the production of season one.

Thora Birch
Thora Birch filmed most of her scenes for season one before leaving production.

While Ricci seamlessly blends into the show’s cast of characters as Nevermore Academy’s botany teacher and dorm mom, she actually joined towards the end of production of season one to replace Thora Birch, according to Deadline.

Birch had reportedly filmed the majority of her scenes before exiting the show due to a family illness.

In hindsight, it’s hard to imagine anyone playing Ricci’s role, and the actor’s past ties to “The Addams Family” franchise make her casting in “Wednesday” seem even more ideal.

 

Ortega and Ricci never spoke about the role of Wednesday during production.

Jenna Ortega and Christina Ricci
Jenna Ortega and Christina Ricci at the “Wednesday” premiere in November.

Although Ricci previously played Wednesday in two films in the 1990s, Ortega never once spoke to Ricci about the role while they were on set together.

“I think when she was on set, neither one of us said ‘Wednesday’ once to each other,” Ortega said about Ricci during an interview with MTV News, adding, “I don’t think she wanted to get in the way of my performance and feel like she was overbearing.”

“Then I felt like I didn’t want to pull up something that she did 30 years ago,” she continued, “for one, the sake of my own benefit, but two, I didn’t want to rip her off. I didn’t want to be too much like her.”

Ricci, for her part, has praised Ortega’s performance since the show aired in late November.

“Jenna Ortega is amazing,” Ricci told Elle in an interview in early December. “She is so brave, so cool, and really doing the part justice. Wednesday is her part now.”

Filming Thing required some special-effects magic to create the illusion of a detached limb.

Victor Dorobantu as Thing
Victor Dorobantu as Thing during the production of “Wednesday.”

One of the show’s most unique and memorable characters, Thing, was a team effort that blended human ingenuity and special-effects magic.

Thing is portrayed by actor and Romanian magician Victor Dorobantu, who wore a prosthetic hand that sat atop his wrist.

Dorobantu also wore a blue chroma-key suit and headpiece while filming. His face and body were edited out in post-production to create the illusion of a detached limb.

“As soon as we put the stump on and did the scene, it was amazing,” the show’s visual-effects supervisor, Tom Turnbull, said in an interview with Variety. “The transformation, you suddenly no longer saw the actor. It was completely game-changing, and that’s what really, I think, brought Thing to life.”

Ortega choreographed that now-viral dance scene at Nevermore Academy herself.

Jenna Ortega in "Wednesday"
Ortega was sick with COVID while filming that memorable dance scene, she said.

Another fan-favorite scene is Wednesday’s kooky dance number in episode four, entitled “Woe What a Night,” in which the students of Nevermore Academy attend the annual Rave’N dance.

When The Cramps’ 1981 single “Goo Goo Muck” starts playing, Wednesday takes to the dance floor with her date Tyler (Hunter Doohan) and displays some solid moves.

Ortega later said she was the one who choreographed the routine.

“I choreographed that myself!” Ortega said in an interview with NME. “I’m not a dancer, and I’m sure that’s obvious. I’d gotten the song about a week before, and I just pulled from whatever I could.”

Ortega shot the dance scene while sick with COVID, which she describes as an “awful” experience.

Jenna Ortega dancing in "Wendesday"
Jenna Ortega was sick with COVID on “Wednesday.”

Iconic as Wednesday’s dance number may be, Netflix has received backlash following Ortega’s admission that she had COVID-19 during production and felt sick while shooting the scene.

“It’s crazy, because it was my first day with COVID, so it was awful to film,” Ortega told NME, “Yeah, I woke up and — it’s weird, I never get sick, and when I do it’s not very bad — I had the body aches.”

Ortega added: “I felt like I’d been hit by a car and that a little goblin had been let loose in my throat and was scratching the walls of my esophagus. They were giving me medicine between takes, because we were waiting on the positive result.”

The production company behind the series, MGM, for its part, told NME that “strict COVID protocols were followed, and once the positive test was confirmed the production removed Jenna from set.”

Emma Myers went to “werewolf boot camp” to prepare for the role of Enid Sinclair.

Emma Myers in Netflix's "Wednesday"
Emma Myers as Wednesday’s roommate Enid Sinclair.

To prepare to play Wednesday’s color-loving werewolf roommate Enid Sinclair, Myers participated in a “werewolf boot camp,” which Myers told Seventeen involved “me and a couple other guys crawling around on the floor growling at each other.”

Myers added: “That was weird. I’ll never forget that.”

Ortega never blinks in any of her scenes, because Burton told her not to.

Jenna Ortega in Netflix's "Wednesday"
Ortega never blinks in scenes.

If you pay close attention to Ortega when she’s on-screen, you may notice that she never blinks once. That was a directing decision made by Burton several weeks into production, Ortega told Teen Vogue.

“At some point during the first couple weeks of shooting, I did a take where I did not blink at all, and Tim said, ‘I don’t want you to blink anymore,'” Ortega said. “The thing about the blinking is, I didn’t realize that I was doing it. It just kind of happened, because every time we started a take, I would reset my face. I would drop all the muscles in my face, and Tim really liked the Kubrick stare, where I stare through my eyebrows. It’s just a bit intimidating.”

Ortega added: “Clearly it struck something with him, and I trust his opinion so much because he’s Tim Burton.”

The stylish look for principal Larissa Weems was inspired by 1960s film icon Tippi Hedren.

Gwendoline Christie in Netflix's "Wednesday"
Gwendoline Christie as principal Larissa Weems.

Virtually every character in “Wednesday” has their own heightened sense of style, and principal Larissa Weems (Gwendoline Christie) is no different.

When it came to designing Weems’ looks for season one, Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood drew heavy inspiration from Hedren and her notable turn in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

“I bought this vintage poster of Tippi Hedren in ‘The Birds,’ I showed her a picture of it,” Atwood told Variety of bringing the vision to Christie, adding that she sees Weems as “her own kind of misfit, in a totally different way.”

“I said, ‘This is who I think you are,’ and she was like, ‘I love it.'”

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