Why Jenna Ortega Says She Became “Unprofessional” on the Set of Netflix’s ‘Wednesday’

The Golden Globe-nominated actress explains why she rewrote lines for the show’s titular character and told producer Tim Burton to not hire a choreographer for the series’ viral dance scene.

Jenna Ortega says that while portraying the beloved Wednesday Addams in the Tim Burton-produced Netflix series Wednesday, she got “unprofessional” in her effort to ensure the character felt authentic to her.

In a recent appearance on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, Ortega revealed she got involved in a major way when it came to the writing of Wednesday and even at one point told Burton that she didn’t want a choreographer for the show’s now-iconic dance scene.

“Everything that she does, everything that I had to play, did not make sense for her character at all,” Ortega said of why she injected her thoughts into the script while on set. “Her being in a love triangle made no sense. There was a line about like, this dress that she has to wear for a school dance and she said, ‘Oh, my God, I love it. Ugh, I can’t believe I said that. I literally hate myself.’ And I had to go, ‘No, there’s no way.’”


For the actress, this was seemingly such a constant issue that she recalled at points becoming “unprofessional” in terms of traditional roles and expectations of actors versus writers on a series. “I don’t think I’ve ever had to put my foot down on a set in the way that I had to on Wednesday because it’s so easy to fall into that category, especially with this type of show,” she told the podcast.

“There was times on that set where I even became almost unprofessional, in a sense, where I just started changing lines. The script supervisor thought that I was going with something, and then I would have to sit down with the writers and they would be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?’ And I would have to go through and explain why I couldn’t do certain things,” she said. “I grew very, very protective of [Wednesday], but you can’t lead a story and have no emotional arc because then it’s boring and nobody likes you.”

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Netflix for comment.

Ortega reiterated comments she had previously made during a Netflix Q&A in which the actress noted that she felt “blown away” by “a lot of dialogue like that in an attempt to make her sound human.”

Ortega also added on the podcast that some of her protectiveness and disagreements around the character were based on the reality of Wednesday as a morbid teen girl and the necessity for the show to give her an emotional arc.

“Wednesday is a teenager,” she explained. “When you’re little and you say morbid, offensive stuff, it’s funny and endearing. ‘Aww, you don’t know any better.’ But then you become a teenager, it’s, ‘Now you’re being nasty and you know it.’ There’s less excuse.”

Beyond lines of dialogue, Ortega noted that she was involved in removing a flash mob scene that was initially in the place of her now-iconic dance sequence, at one point telling producer Burton not to hire a choreographer because she felt “overwhelmed” after having “stopped trusting outside opinion” about the character.

“Initially, it was supposed to be a flash mob, and she was supposed to start dancing, and everyone was supposed to pick up on it and start dancing with her. And that, I vetoed because why would she be OK with that?” the actress said. “I said, ‘Either cut it or have Wednesday knock someone out, and then it’s done.’”

All in all, the actress said her experience on the show left her with little confidence when she left the set. “I can’t watch my work, but I can go home from set and say, ‘The scene that we shot today felt good,’” the actress said. “On Wednesday, there was not a scene in that show that I went home and was like, ‘OK, that should be fine.’”

It has also made her question the source of recent professional opportunities and ultimately what she’s become known for as an actress. “Now a lot of people know me from that. It’s not my proudest moment internally, which, I think, also adds an extra level of insecurity and stress,” Ortega explained. “Because it’s like, no, I’m finally getting these offers to these places that I want, but I don’t want to be known specifically for that.”

Several of Ortega’s comments about working on the hit series have drawn attention since it was released back in November. The actress has previously explained that she performed the show’s dance sequence while positive for COVID-19 and said in a more recent interview with Entertainment Tonight that filming for Wednesday resulted in her being unable to return to Netflix’s You — something that “devastated” her.