Jenna Ortega says she’s never had to “put my foot down” more on a set than she did while filming the first season of Netflix’s Wednesday — and she’s not talking about the fancy footwork in her character’s viral dance number.
During her March 6 appearance on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, Ortega admits to completely changing lines of dialogue in the show’s scripts without consulting the writers beforehand.
“Everything that Wednesday does, everything I had to play, did not make sense for her character at all,” Ortega says. “Her being in a love triangle made no sense. There was a line about a dress she has to wear for a school dance and she says, ‘Oh my God, I love it! Ugh, I can’t believe I said that. I literally hate myself.’ I had to go, ‘No.'”
Ortega recalls moments on set when she “became almost unprofessional” in how much she changed lines. “The script supervisor thought I was going with something, and then I had to sit down with the writers, and they’d be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?'” she says. “I’d have to go and explain why I couldn’t go do certain things.”
The actress says she “grew very, very protective” of her character, which inspired script changes to ensure both the show’s believability and Wednesday’s likability. As Ortega explain, “You can’t lead a story and have no emotional arc, because then it’s boring and nobody likes you. When you are little and say very morbid, offensive stuff, it’s funny and endearing. But then you become a teenager, and it’s nasty and you know it. There’s less of an excuse.”
Prior to reading all of the scripts, Ortega thought the show “was going to be a lot darker” than it turned out to be. “When I read the entire series, I realized, ‘Oh, this is for younger audiences,'” she says. “I din’t know what the tone was, or what the score would sound like.”
Of course, rewriting lines was just one difficult aspect of filming the first season of Tim Burton’s Addams Family spinoff series. While filming the aforementioned dance scene, which Ortega choreographed herself, the actress was exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Her positive result did not come through until after the scene was finished.
In a previous interview with NME, Ortega said the scene was “awful to film,” adding that she probably would have “done it a bit better” if she’d felt better. “I asked to redo it, but we didn’t have time,” she said.
Wednesday, one of Netflix’s biggest hits to date, was renewed for a second season in January.
TVLine has reached out to Netflix for comment.