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Why Playing Wednesday Addams As A Teenager Was Tough For Both Jenna Ortega And Christina Ricci

Christina Ricci began her acting career in 1990's "Mermaids," performing alongside Cher and Winona Ryder before graduating to cult teen classics and indie gems alike (per IMDb). These days, Ricci can be seen on Showtime's "Yellowjackets" as Misty, the unsettlingly chipper survivor of a horrific plane crash. For Ricci devotees, the actresses' return to the gory and macabre is a welcome reminder of her most iconic role to date: Wednesday Addams.

Ricci played the Addams' ghoulish daughter in 1991's "The Addams Family" and in the 1993 sequel "Addams Family Values." For a certain kind of sardonic kid, Ricci's dry, darkly funny Wednesday was the highlight. Jenna Ortega was one such kid, and she watched the movies on repeat (per Interview Magazine). Now, Ortega has the enviable task of bringing the morbid teen back to life with "Wednesday," the upcoming Netflix series from Tim Burton. It turns out that portraying Wednesday comes with the same set of challenges for Ortega that Ricci faced nearly 30 years ago.

Both actresses had to avoid portraying Wednesday as a stereotypical bratty teen

In a conversation for Interview Magazine, Christina Ricci and Jenna Ortega discussed what it is like playing Wednesday Addams, past and future. Ortega — who has risen to prominence as an up-and-coming scream queen in films like "X" and 2022's "Scream" — felt as though she had big shoes to fill. "It was really important to me that I wasn't doing a knockoff of your performance," the young actress told Ricci.

While Ortega may be reinventing Wednesday for Netflix, she and Ricci bonded over their shared experiences of portraying the character as teens. When the character was a child, says Ortega, it created a funny juxtaposition of someone "saying really dark, twisted things out of a place of pure honesty and innocence." As a teen, Ortega explained, it's a harder balance to strike. "It's a bit different when you get older and become a teenager because then you just sound like a b****. You don't want her to be nasty."

Ricci concurred, citing her experience returning to "Addams Family Values" as a 12-year-old. "The note back from rehearsals was now that she's a teenager, it just sounds nasty and bratty," said Ricci. Ortega had the additional challenge of humanizing Wednesday while still making her dark and weird through the course of a full series arc. Luckily, she had Tim Burton in her corner on set. "I remember Tim being really wonderful about things like that and calling me to his trailer in the mornings and saying, 'What are you uncomfortable saying? What do you want to say?'" Ortega recalled. "When you have supportive collaborators like Tim, it makes it a lot easier."