Kooky and Spooky Facts and Photos Behind the Making of Netflix’s ‘Wednesday’
Mon Dec 12 2022
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, they’re mysterious and spooky, and they’re the Addams Family. This dark and brooding fictional family has been around since 1938 and brought to life in various different forms. From comic strips to movies, the Addams Family have become pop culture legends. That’s why it was obvious that Wednesday would be an immediate success.
From the genius mind of Tim Burton, Wednesday offers a new iteration of the Addams Family. And with Jenna Ortega at the helm, this Netflix show has broken records. But what you see on the screen isn’t the whole story. From last-minute cast decisions to hidden easter eggs and CGI trickery, these behind-the-scenes photos and facts show how Wednesday was really made.
Jenna Ortega Actually Learned To Play the Cello for the Role
Actors and actresses are known for putting a huge amount of preparation and work into their characters, and it seems as though Jenna Ortega is one of them. Instead of relying on fake fingerwork and cheeky camera angles to bring Wednesday Addams’ cello solos to life, Jenna decided to make these scenes as authentic as possible. So, she actually learned to play the cello.
Jenna revealed this impressive nugget of information during an interview with Wired, where she confessed that “I started working on the cello about two months before we started shooting. 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… I have immense respect for anybody who plays the cello. I think it’s such a delightful instrument.”
She Also Choreographed Wednesday’s Big Gothic Dance Scene Herself
Since the success of Wednesday, fans have taken over TikTok with variations of her now-infamous dance scene. But what you might not realize is that this dance scene wasn’t as orchestrated as you might expect. Instead of working with choreographers or being directed by Tim Burton himself, Jenna was tasked with coming up with the dance herself.
Although Jenna has stated that “I think it’s very obvious that I’m not a dancer or choreographer,” she was inspired by vintage video footage of goths dancing in clubs during the 1980s. She even took to Twitter to thank those who inspired her: ”Thanks to Siouxsie Sioux, Bob Fosse’s Rich Man’s Frug, Lisa Loring, Lene Lovich, Denis Lavant.”
Although Outside Shots Were Filmed in Romania, the Bedroom Scenes Were Filmed in a Studio
Outside shots in Wednesday were filmed in Romania, and the cast and crew spent eight grueling months living and working in the country. But filming the real-life castle tower scenes would have been incredibly difficult if they had done this in real life. This would require hefty safety precautions, drones, and so much more. So, they did this in the studio instead.
The production team created their very own Castle Cantacuzino in the studio. With this in place, they were able to film all of the scenes that took place outside the castle itself – like when Wednesday tried to run away, and when she performed her cello solo. This was a much safer and cheaper option than trying to film at the real castle.
Despite Being 6’3″, George Burcea Is the Shortest Actor to Play Lurch
While he didn’t exactly have many lines to memorize, Romanian actor George Burcea still had the pleasure of working alongside the rest of the Wednesday cast for this project. He transformed himself into Lurch – the manservant to the Addams family. But despite being a tall 6’3″, he’s actually the shortest actor to ever play the tall and Frankenstein-Esque creature.
In the 1960s television show, 6’9″ Ted Cassidy played Lurch. He was followed by 7’0″ Carel Struycken in the 1990s movies, and then 6’0″ John DeSantis in the ’90s television show. Even Zachary James, who played Lurch in the Broadway show was 6’6″. Despite this, Burcea still looked giant compared to the rest of the Addams family.
Christina Ricci Wasn’t Originally Cast To Be in the Show, but Was Brought In as a Replacement
Seeing former Wednesday Addams actress Christina Ricci in Wednesday was overwhelming for many fans, with many amazed at the full-circle journey. However, this wasn’t always meant to happen. Although Christina was a natural in the show, she wasn’t originally cast in it. She was actually brought in as a replacement when Thora Birch had to pull out.
In fact, Thora had filmed half of the first season when it was announced that “Thora has returned to the States to attend a personal matter and will not be returning to the production.” This left Tim and his team with some red boots to fill, and Ricci just happened to be free. But while Christina wasn’t the first choice, she absolutely smashed her role.
Thing Wasn’t CGI or Animation, but a Real Hand Attached to Magician Victor Dorobantu
A key member of the Addams Family is Thing – the severed hand that fiercely protects the whole family. His all-important role in Wednesday allowed fans at home to fall in love with him, but many wrongly suspected that he was brought to life through CGI or animatronics. In reality, Thing was a prosthetic hand attached to a Romanian magician by the name of Victor Dorobantu.
To film these scenes, Victor was decked out in a blue chroma-key suit and headpiece to ensure that he could be edited out in post-production. But everything about Thing that you see on the screen was brought to life by Victor using a prosthetic hand that was glued onto his own hand to allow for Thing’s iconic movements. In fact, the many prosthetics hands of Thing were in makeup for an hour and a half every single day.
Jenna Ortega Refused To Speak With Christina Ricci About Her Portrayal of Wednesday Addams
Wednesday became instantly iconic for so many reasons, but one of them was because we had a new Wednesday Addams working alongside an old Wednesday Addams. And seeing Jenna Ortega on the screen with Christina Ricci (who played Wednesday in the ’90s movies) left many fans wondering if they talked about their Wednesday experiences together. But Jenna didn’t want to do that.
In fact, Jenna refused to speak to Christina about her ’90s portrayal of the character, as she didn’t want to be influenced or create a parody. She wanted to make her portrayal as unique as possible, and she confessed that “neither one of us said Wednesday once to each other… I didn’t want to rip her off, and I didn’t want to be too much like her.”
Principal Weems’ Costume Was Designed To Look Just Like Another Iconic Actress
We’re used to seeing Gwendoline Christie in knight’s armor, but Wednesday gave her the chance to step into the headmistress’s shoes as Principal Weems. But her outfits weren’t unique, and they weren’t designed specifically for this show. Instead, costume designer Colleen Atwood modeled these looks on another famous actress in another very famous production.
Atwood was inspired by the one and only Tippi Hedren in the Alfred Hitchcock classic, The Birds. She told Variety that “I bought this vintage poster of Tippi Hedren in The Birds. I showed her [Gwendoline] a picture of it. I said, ‘This is who I think you are. And she was like, ‘I love it.” In her words, Atwood wanted the headmistress to be “her own kind of misfit, in a totally different way.”
Fred Armisen Did Actually Shave His Head To Play Uncle Fester
Fred Armisen is known for putting his all into his acting roles, and there’s no doubt about the fact that he’s used to transforming into quirky and kooky characters. Because of this, fans were overjoyed when they learned that he would be Uncle Fester in Wednesday. And while Uncle Fester has always been bald, they just assumed that he would use a bald cap. But he didn’t.
Fred confirmed his decision to shave off his head for the role during a New York Comic Con event, where he confessed that “I wanted to do it right and not have a bald cap or anything.” One of the makeup artists for the show, Tara McDonald, captured on camera the moment Fred shaved off his own hair in his trailer.
The Cast and Crew Filmed in Romania Over the Course of Eight Gruelling Months
Tim Burton is known for bringing authenticity to everything that he makes, which is why he knew that he couldn’t just film in a studio in Hollywood. He wanted to bring the dark and brooding nature of Wednesday to life through its location, which is why he decided to film the majority of the television show in Romania. But this wasn’t easy on everyone involved.
All in all, the show took a whopping eight months to film – which meant that the cast and crew had to be away from their family in Romania for all that time. Speaking about this, Jenna stated that “We worked really, really hard on the show… really trying to create something that did Wednesday Addams justice…[We wanted to] create a new world and introduce her to a newer generation while also welcoming back other people that have fallen in love with her from previous generations.”
Wednesday’s “No Blinking” Quirk Came About by Complete Accident
Although you may not have noticed it while watching the show, Wednesday Addams doesn’t blink. And although this seems to match her character perfectly, it seems as though this wasn’t intentional. Before filming began, Jenna Ortega and Tim Burton agreed that Jenna would incorporate the “Kubrick stare” into her character. But he never told her to stop blinking altogether.
Her no-blinking quirk came about without anybody really noticing – and even she didn’t realize she’d done it. It was only after she accidentally finished a whole take without blinking that Jenna and Tim got back together and decided this new development would bring the character of Wednesday together even more. So, Jenna stopped blinking.
Emma Myers Had To Complete a “Werewolf Bootcamp” To Become Enid
Although 20-year-old Emma Myers made her first professional acting debut in 2010, Wednesday thrust the young actress into the limelight and provided her with the breakthrough role she was looking for. However, transforming into werewolf student Enid Sinclair wasn’t exactly easy. To nail her role, Emma had to complete a werewolf boot camp.
While talking to Seventeen about her life-changing role, Emma confessed that she had to go into the stunt gym every morning to prepare for this project: “I did, like, a werewolf boot camp for four hours one time where it was me and a couple other guys crawling around on the floor and growling at each other… that was weird.”
The Production Team Used Clever Tricks To Create Kooky Illusions
Filming a kooky show like Wednesday wasn’t easy. Makeup artists and special effects experts were working overtime to bring the gory scenes to life, the costume department had to get creative with the cast’s quirky wardrobe, and the production team needed to trick the audience into believing that monsters and creatures do exist. And when it came to Lurch, they needed to make sure that he looked giant.
While Lurch actor George Burcea is tall already, the production team decided to build two separate cars for the scenes involving the Addams Family car. They positioned the second one on a downward slant on the driver’s side to ensure that the family looked smaller, while Lurch looked huge. Tricks like this brought the show to life.
Tim Burton Worked With the Costume Department To Bring Wednesday’s Wardrobe to Life
In previous Addams Family productions, Wednesday Addams has always worn the same thing. She’s worn a black dress with a white collar, and that ultimately became her trademark look. But with a whole show that focused on this one character, Tim Burton wanted to “expand on that a little bit” so that it gave the character “a bit more of a range.”
Colleen Atwood was put in charge of bringing Wednesday’s distinct style to life, and she noted that “No detail was too small… Everything about her look was intentional.” Alfred Gough, Wednesday‘s co-creator, also stated that “We loved the idea that her school uniform would be unique because everybody else is wearing the very vibrant purple, and she’s wearing a black and white version. She always stands out from the crowd.”
The Bloody Dance Scene Was a Subtle Reference to Another Iconic Movie
Tim Burton often likes to reference popular culture in his creations – and he’s not too proud to celebrate other filmmakers in his work. And he did just that in Wednesday’s most memorable scene; the bloody dance scene. Although fans watched in horror as the characters found themselves covered in red paint, what you might not have realized is that this was Tim’s subtle hint towards the famous movie Carrie.
However, Tim decided to add some humor into the mix. While Carrie was horrified to be covered in pig’s blood, Wednesday Addams reveled in the gore of the scene. She was even disappointed when she licked her fingers and discovered that it wasn’t blood at all. This proves that Wednesday is the complete opposite of Carrie.
Jenna Took Fencing, Canoeing, Archery, and German Lessons for the Show
As well as learning how to crush a cello solo in preparation for her role as Wednesday Addams, Jenna Ortega also put in even more work. Wednesday showed off her fencing, archery, canoeing, and even her German language skills in the show. And while you may have assumed that stunt doubles and camera trickery were used for this, that wasn’t the case.
To make these scenes look and sound as authentic and genuine as possible, Jenna decided to really integrate herself into the role. So, she took lessons in all of those skills to ensure that she could pull off these scenes perfectly. And while she later confessed that juggling all of these balls was “stressful and confusing,” the extra work just made fans fall in love with her even more.
The Walls in the Weathervane Were Full of Tim Burton-Inspired Easter Eggs
No mystery television show is complete without a place where the characters convene to discuss the strange goings-on, and in Wednesday that was the Weathervane coffee shop. And while this may have seemed like a regular coffee shop that simply served coffee and housed comfortable booths, those who looked closer at the background shots may have noticed some cool easter eggs.
Hung on the back wall of the Weathervane coffee shop are some actual weathervanes in various different shapes and sizes. But each of these weathervanes has a reference to another Tim Burton creation. This includes a headless horseman for Sleepy Hollow, and even a top hat for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The Cast and Crew Hated the Catering While They Were Filming in Romania
While there’s no doubt about the fact that most actors love the perks that come with working away from home, the cast and crew of Wednesday weren’t as impressed. Many of them took to social media to showcase their distaste for the strange Romanian food they were given by the catering team.
Pictured above is what was described as “a delectable Romanian “twisted sausage” sauteed over a mystery substance and served with a side of stuffed fungus.” According to Jenna Ortega, she was also vegan before she traveled to Romania to film Wednesday. She’s since converted to pescetarianism, and it’s assumed that she did this because there weren’t many vegan food options on set.
Despite Strict COVID Protocols, Jenna Ortega Tested Positive While Filming a Very Important Scene
Wednesday was filmed from September 2021 and March 2022, and while the height of the Covid-19 pandemic had petered out, infection numbers were still high. Because of this, the production team put tough Covid protocols in place. Cast and crew were tested regularly, and they had to wear masks when the cameras weren’t rolling. But that didn’t stop Jenna Ortega from testing positive.
On the day of filming the infamous bloody dance scene, Jenna noted that “I woke up and it was weird, I never get sick and when I do it’s not that bad but I had cramps all over my body. It felt like I got hit by a car and a little goblin flew around my throat and scratched the walls of my esophagus.” Despite this, Jenna continued with the scene, which has garnered a huge amount of criticism from fans.
The Faceless Were Created With the Help of Prosthetics, Not CGI
Those who watched Wednesday learned that Nevermore Academy is home to outcasts from all walks of life, from sirens to werewolves and even the Faceless. And while those watching at home may have assumed that these students’ faces were removed with the help of CGI, that wasn’t the case at all. Their faces were used with the help of prosthetics and makeup.
Yes, these actors’ faces were covered in prosthetics to bring these characters to life – but doing so wasn’t easy. Without any mouth or nose holes, the prosthetics team had to make small holes under the chin and add in vac-form inserts to ensure that the actors were able to breathe while filming.
Impressive Efforts Were Taken To Ensure That Thing Looked Deadly but Seemed Loveable
Bringing a character to life normally involves a whole body rather than just one body part, but the team behind Wednesday knew that Thing had to be a hand like no other. Because of this, Victor Dorobantu had to put in a huge amount of work to ensure that while Thing looked deadly with all of his scars and stitches, he actually came across as a loveable member of the family.
Victor noted that “The look of Thing is Tim Burton’s signature, I guess, all the scars and the dead look. I personally tried to make a huge contrast between his looks, that look deadly, and tried to make Thing passionate, emotional, more like a human being – a kind human being. But I wanted to express the fact that, whenever he needed, he could be bad. I aimed to make Thing lovable.”
The Hyde Monster Was CGI, but Required Some Real-Life Movement on the Set
Although the Wednesday team tried to steer clear of special effects and CGI, they knew that they needed to utilize these things to bring the Hyde monster to life. With its bulging eyes, its green skin, and its hunched back, they knew this monster needed to be more than an actor in a monster suit. But to bring the CGI effects to life, they still needed a real human to help them.
To do this, an actor wore a CGI suit, stood on stilts, and transformed himself into a simple iteration of the monster. After filming, the production crew then enlisted the best in the business to turn this simple iteration into an impressive CGI monster. It was tough work, but one that brought a whole new dimension to the show.
Dorobantu Saw Thing As a Character In His Own Right With a Facial Expressions and All
Take a look at Victor Dorobantu crouched down in his bright blue suit as Jenna Ortega act’s alongside his famous hand. It’s interesting to see how close and awkwardly positioned Dorobantu had to be at times to make the scene work – something tells us he was getting hand cramps regularly between takes.
Dorobantu definitely gave Thing the respect that the character deserved, telling Slate magazine, “…He’s not a pet. He was seen like a human body. I was trying to see the wrist as his face and his eyeline. I was trying to turn his head. I was trying to make him grounded, and see the thumb as a leg and the small finger as another leg, and the rest of it was just expressions, you know?
Making Sure To Capture The Memories In-Between Shooting
Actress Emma Myers posted this adorable selfie of her and some of the other cast mates, including actress Johnna Dias-Watson, waiting around on set. We can see that other background actors and extras had to keep their masks on for safety, but the main characters weren’t required to do the same.
This makes sense, considering how these actors have more of an on-screen presence and couldn’t be filmed keeping up with COVID-19 precautions. Luckily, everyone was outdoors that day, making it even less likely that the virus’ would pass between cast members.
Tim Burton Directing Crewmembers Moments Before It Rained Blood on the Dance Floor
Just look at how intensely Jenna Ortega is watching Tim Burton as he instructs some of the crewmembers before that crazy scene. Everyone was so clean, polished, and camera-ready, but it would all get covered in (fake) blood just a few moments later. Perhaps it’s Ortega’s steely concentration that enabled her epic dance scene to go viral.
In fact, it garnered so much attention that even Lady Gaga recreated it on her TikTok account. But, despite getting a ton of fan approval, Ortega claims she’s not one to be reckoned with on that front, explaining in an interview: “I think it’s very obvious that I’m not a dancer or a choreographer.”
Capturing Victor Dorobantu’s Talented Hand From Every Angle Possible
Victor Dorobantu’s skilled acting didn’t just happen on set with the other actors. He also had to perform in some bizarre room filled with hundreds of cameras that were set up to capture his hand from every possible angle. It looks like something from some kind of a dystopian nightmare if you ask us.
We can only imagine how much money has been invested into this technologically advanced room – just look at how many DSLR cameras there are! In this instance, however, Dorobantu didn’t have to cover himself in a blue body suit – at least not entirely. He could get away with just wearing a cobalt blue T-shirt.
Actors Took To Wearing Low-Weight, Heat-Reflective Space Blankets To Try and Retain Their Body Heat
Actress Emma Myers posted this adorable group mirror selfie to her Instagram, showing a bunch of the actors wearing a bunch of what looks like space blankets. The purpose of space blankets is to keep someone’s body warm by reducing their heat loss, proving that, at times, it was physically challenging on set.
Seeing as how more than one of the actors is holding a cup of hot tea or coffee, we can safely assume that everyone was fairly cold. Most of the scenes were shot in the grand Cantacuzino Castle, which is situated in Bușteni, Romania. And it can get pretty cold over there.
Jenna Ortega Was Extremely Committed To the Part, Even In the Face of a Blindingly Bright Light
This surprising scene shows just how committed Jenna Ortega was to the moment while filming for the show. She has that steely look of determination that tells us she’s not breaking character for anything. She’s staring straight up and into the eyes of the character that’s supposedly there, bearing down on her.
This behind-the-scenes photo also shows us that there are quite a few people surrounding her in this scene, ensuring that they capture the shot as best they can, as well as help move the props and give Ortega something to work with. And just look at how bright that box light is over head. Yikes.
The Cast Members Who Were Close In Age Became Especially Close While Filming
Seeing the cast of Wednesday behind the scenes shows that they really all were friends when the filming stopped. Here are a bunch of faves having fun on a deck by the lake. As we can see, they’re all adorable on-screen and when they’re all just messing around in their free time.
For those of you who follow actresses Joy Sunday and Johnna Dias-Watson on social media, you’ll know that they actually grew pretty close as friends after working together in the Netflix series. They frequently posted photos on their social accounts of them hanging or being goofy.
Show Makers Made Sure To Clothe Their Expensive Filming Equipment Adequately… Kind of
It’s crazy to see how the show makers have gone about protecting the camera equipment when it comes to a scene like this. They’ve literally just thrown a plastic bag over the top of their expensive filming equipment, taped it around the edges (for the most part), and called it a day.
We’re still not clear how they managed to waterproof the overhead mic, which we can see was very much in the scene and close to all the action. Interestingly, they don’t take care to cover all of the camera, stand included. They’re only really covering the electric bits and presumably mopping down the rest at the end of the day.
Tim Burton Was Right There on the Floor With Victor Dorobantu, Directing Him at Every Moment
We love this shot of Victor Dorobantu doing his hand-acting magic on set. We can see the “disembodied” hand walking along the tiled floor, only it is very much attached to his body. He’s wearing that skin-tight lycra blue body suit that ensures his body can be removed in post-production.
We love to see director Tim Burton’s input as well, as he’s literally on his hands and knees with Dorobantu ensuring that they capture the perfect shot. You can even see that Burton’s hand is imitating the way in which he wants Dorobantu to move – that’s the sign of a director who cares.
Cast Members Did Whatever They Needed To Do To Stay Dry and Warm on Set, Even If It Meant Holding Hands Sometimes
Yes, sometimes the clothes you have to wear on set aren’t the most practical of outfits. So in that in-between time where you’re not shooting, you need something practical to wrap around you to keep you warm, dry or anything else that offers some kind of protection against the elements.
In this photo, we can see that actress Joy Sunday, who plays Bianca Barclay, and actress Johnna Dias-Watson, who plays Divina, were trying to stay warm and dry in dressing gowns in between shooting by the lake. Despite the fact that they’re pretty dressed down, they look totally adorable in their toweling robes.