You are welcomed! It’s a hit! In this series, IndieWire talks to the creators and showrunners behind some of our favorite television shows about what happened when they realized their show was growing up.
“Even though we thought it was a no-brainer, a lot of people clearly didn’t,” said Miles Miller, co-creator of “Wednesday” and partner Al Gough’s years-long experience trying to sell the series. doing what has ultimately become Netflix’s latest global phenomenon. “We thought, ‘Oh maybe this will be a YA hit, like an advanced CW show,’ but then it turned out to be so much more than that. We never anticipated the level of impact and response it would have.”
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To briefly cover the timeline from Goff and Miller’s point of view, they first came up with the idea for an Addams Family spin-off where daughter Wednesday attends a supernatural boarding school filled with mysteries in the spring of 2019. . The pair knew that Paramount had made live action films of the ’90s, and that MGM was creating a recent animated film franchise based on iconic Charles Addams creations, but it was the Addams Family Foundation that owned the actual IP. Describing his phone call to Kevin Misorcchi, who runs the foundation, Gough said, “He really loved it because he saw it as being more sophisticated, which he really liked. Wasn’t a fan because they thought they were too kiddie.
The Addams Family Foundation’s blessing got them together with MGM Television, and the project went on the market in the fall of 2019. First choice college. However, “all of MGM’s business machinery was on the sellers’ block at the time, and everybody was circling, the deal didn’t go through, so we thought it was dead.”
Former MGM Television president Steve Stark, who had the studio commit more money to redevelop the project in January 2020, became his saving grace, allowing Gough and Miller to write more scripts to writers Kayla Alpert and April Blair. And got permission to help break. full season. By Memorial Day of that year, with more material to show potential collaborators, they took a big swing by trying to recruit Tim Burton to come on board as executive producer and director.
The famed “Beetlejuice” filmmaker found more than a dozen life-size dinosaur sculptures at his country retreat near Oxford, England, when Gough and Miller reached out to him via FaceTime. “He’s walking around his dinosaur garden talking to us about Wednesday Adams, who he describes as his teenage crush,” Miller said. “And he was really passionate not only about the character,[but]about this take.” Burton had previously turned down offers to direct the Addams Family films of the ’90s, and an early 2010 attempt to make a stop-motion animated film about the lightsaber family never came to fruition. Miller said, “What they really liked about this was that it was a different chapter—a new chapter—and a part of the story and history of the Addams family that we had never seen before.”
With Burton now on board, the creators found “the perfect marriage between filmmaker and material”, said Gough. Netflix agreed, eventually finalized the deal, and in October 2020 announced the director-led Addams Family project. However, according to Gough, the producers still knew, “If we don’t get the right Wednesday, we’re dead in the water.
The creators cast a wide net to find the star of their series, but it was quickly apparent that Jenna Ortega was the perfect fit. Gough said, “Netflix gave us a list of actresses they liked and Jenna was definitely on that list.” Miller said, “But we wanted to go through the process of seeing as many people as possible so we could really (for sure) find the right Wednesday.”
The Disney Channel star turned next wave scream queen, who already had “Scream” and “You” Season 2 before joining the Netflix series, has opened up about how she took on the role of “Wednesday”, something Gough and Miller said they welcomed. “The lead of any show becomes your ally on the show, they just do. It’s inevitable,” Gough said. “And this character, there’s a precision to it. There’s an accuracy to Jenna’s performance, there’s an accuracy to how the character is written, there’s an accuracy to what Tim does, and we all had many conversations about that because you’re just trying to make sure that you Landing the plane very precisely, a small aircraft carrier in a very big ocean.
”’What will Wednesday do?” It was a constant conversation for us. So that exploration is something we’ve really enjoyed about Season 1. “We welcome collaborations. Not that we’re precious about it, but there’s a precision to the lines, and to the dialogues, and to the comedy that’s all scripted. So it’s about clarity of communication and everyone being comfortable.” It’s about feeling.
Gough and Millar, who also created “Smallville,” the long-running CW series reimagining Superman’s origin story, joked that the superhero can be predictable, given the challenge in writing the protagonist for their Netflix series. is that “Wednesday is unpredictable. So (we) always figure out what moments she’ll feel vulnerable or show emotion or not show emotion. We definitely took some risks with the character,” he added. We never wanted to cheat her. It was something we were very conscious of, and I know Jenna was too.
For this viral dance scene What once again sealed Wednesday Adams as a generational icon, Miller said, adding that Ortega insisted on working with a choreographer she had recruited, and explored the movement by herself. It was “like a Wednesday” to put it. , , It’s amazing to have the freedom to do that, be creative and have a sense of freedom. And that’s why it’s so authentic to Wednesday, and why it works so well. It doesn’t look choreographed. It really feels out of character. Although he insists that such a standout scene could not be produced, Gough said that when he saw Ortega go for it, he thought “Oh my god, this is the new ‘Pulp Fiction’ dance.” Feels like a generation.”
While “Wednesday” boasted the inclusion of Gwendoline Christie, Reiki Lindholme, and Luis Guzmán and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Gomez and Morticia Addams, there was a late arrival that was a first for Gough and Miller. Writing a whodunit proved to be a benefit and an added challenge. With season 1 of “Wednesday” revolving around the leads trying to figure out the identity of a murderous shapeshifter and his co-conspirator, the show’s sleuths thought to cast Christina Ricci, who made her debut in the 90s. Wednesday Adams in the movies “The Most Obvious Blinking Red Light,” “How the Criminal Was Always a Big-Name Guest Star on Murder, She Wrote.”
“We always thought it was so obvious that Cristina was (the villain) and Tyler (Hunter Doohan) was the monster. It was like ‘Of course! We knew it!’ But it was probably one of the most gratifying things about the show that a lot of people didn’t,” Miller said. Gough revealed that it was a way for his writing partner to check his work, “Miles did his best. Had an impromptu screening of all eight for the teenage daughter and some of her friends. And they had no idea about it. And then we were like, ‘Now we’re in the clear,’ because she finds out the secrets. Like he figured out the Vecna piece in ‘Stranger Things’ really quickly.
“We had to get the seal of approval from teenage girls who religiously watch ‘Criminal Minds’ and all that sort of stuff,” Miller said. “Those girls are ruthless, checking logic.”
Ultimately, “Wednesday” has surpassed its intended audience, with Gough sharing that he knew the show’s Thanksgiving week launch on Netflix had gone exceptionally well when his 80-year-old parents told him that their Friends were calling him about it. Miller joked, “In terms of demographics and stuff, it seems like everybody likes it. It’s like, ‘Really?!'” But Gough added that the particular IP they’re building, One of his advantages is that Charles Addams was drawing pictures, not complete stories.” There is no deep mythology in the Addams family. Remember, they were cartoon panel characters that weren’t even named on television shows in the ’60s. So people really like to know more about him,” the co-producer said.
While Gough and Miller remain mostly silent about any details of what will come in “Wednesday” season 2, as if they themselves were in danger of playing the character, they did share that one aspect of casting Ortega in the role appealed to them. How did you get the wheels? turn. “It’s very rare to find an iconic (Latina) character of this stature,” Miller said. “We try to find ways to really authentically (shine light on that). What would Wednesday listen to when she was growing up? What would Gomez be playing? girl who grew up with Latino parents in New Jersey, and how will that resonate with her as a teen? We’ll certainly be looking for more ways to explore that this season. are doing.”
With “Wednesday,” Ortega is not only one of the only Latina stars in a TV landscape barren by stories from that community, she also becomes one of the only actors in demand with moviegoers under 30. Miller said, “It catapulted him to superstardom.” “How do you make a movie star today? You put her on a hit Netflix show. That’s what happens. And I think you see it with Jenna, and obviously it’s incredibly well-deserved.”
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