Jenna Ortega On Fashion’s Role In Netflix’s Wednesday

Jenna Ortega On Fashion’s Role In Netflix’s Wednesday

Wednesday. Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in episode 104 of Wednesday. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Everyone’s new favorite anti-hero is also quickly becoming a fashion star.

Immediately after its premiere, Wednesday, Netflix’s macabre comedy spinoff of The Addams Family, debuted at number 1. Starring Jenna Ortega, the series follows the titular Addams daughter after her sadistic antics (including dropping bags of piranhas in a swimming pool full of her brother’s bullies) land her in Nevermore, a boarding school for gifted outcasts (werewolves, sirens, gorgons, you name it), which, she later discovers, is plagued by a serial killer monster.

Helmed by multi-award-winning director Tim Burton, Wednesday features most members of the eccentric family unit, played by a star-studded cast including series regulars Catherine Zeta-Jones as the vampy matriarch Morticia, Luis Guzmán as Gomez, and the sentient hand Thing (Victor Dorobantu). It also introduces an expanded cast of oddballs and oddities including Gwendoline Christie as Principal Larissa Weems, Riki Lindhome as Valerie Kinbott, and Christina Ricci, the original Wednesday, as Nevermore professor Marilyn Thornhill. The Netflix adaptation marks Ricci’s return to The Addams Family universe after she first popularized the sardonic teen as a young actor in the 1991 and 1993 film adaptations of the original comic.

“Freak representation is crucial and I think that it’s really nice for them to be seen in a positive, disturbing light,” Ortega tells us in a roundtable interview about playing the kooky character. In this comedic murder mystery spinoff, the beloved antihero with a biting tongue is even more of a troublemaker, though now she also goes to therapy, solves crimes, and maybe even considers a romantic interest. Maybe. She’s also an even bigger fashion darling.

In the original ’90s film, Wednesday’s severe braided pigtails and black schoolgirl dress combo became so synonymous with her character that it’s difficult to think of Wednesday in anything else. But over the show’s eight episodes, Wednesday explores an even chicer take on her goth persona. From her very first scene, her classic black schoolgirl dress is already given a modern update with much pointier collars. While her Rave’N Dance prom dress? By Alaïa.

Ortega is a firm believer that Wednesday’s (all-black) wardrobe plays a crucial role in the show. “[Fashion is] a big deal because the show is actually very colorful, so it’s nice because it creates a stronger contrast between Wednesday and the rest of the characters,” the actor tells us.

Wednesday’s severe looks also helped the You and Jane the Virgin alum get into the role. “When you’re getting ready to be a character, hair, makeup, and costume is a really big deal. When it’s done right, it makes it so much easier to do your job because you genuinely feel like your character and feel like you’re in their shoes truly.”

Thankfully, the cast was in the deft hands of Colleen Atwood, the four-time Oscar-winning costume designer and frequent Burton collaborator. The two creatives have worked on over 10 films together including Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, which Atwood won an Academy Award for. Ortega has only praises for Atwood, gushing, “She’s a Hollywood legend.”

Christie, who plays Principal Weems, a Nevermore-alum-turned-headmistress, also speaks highly of Atwood. “You have the opportunity of working with the legendary Colleen Atwood so you have someone who is, I don’t use the term lightly, a genius costume designer and is able to look at you [and] see what suits you best,” she tells the press in a conference. “I felt like my body was truly celebrated and my creative ideas were also completely respected. I had the most wonderful time on set.”

Wednesday. Gwendoline Christie as Larissa Weems in episode 103 of Wednesday. Cr. Vlad Cioplea/Netflix © 2022

Christie, who had her star-making turn as Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones, followed by roles in Star Wars and Netflix’s The Sandman, has experience in participating in projects already emblazoned in pop culture canon and knows exactly how crucial a role fashion plays. Even Burton, she says, was collaborative in that regard, asking for her input on her styling. “He wants to know what you think and how you see the character and how do you want to look,” she reveals.

Aside from the fashion, the show also houses a range of beauty ideas to draw inspiration from, from Principal Weems’ striking matte red lip to Enid’s (Wednesday’s roommate) rainbow hair and nails, to Wednesday’s berry lips (her signature pout is MAC’s lip liner in Nightmoth). And it’s all thanks to the show’s hair and makeup stylist Tara McDonald, also responsible for nailing the character’s infamous braids.

Ortega, luckily, didn’t think the costumes—nor the deadpan expression—were too much of a stretch. “I feel like [Wednesday and I] like similar things already,” Ortega shares. “I’ve always loved button-ups and white collars. It’s something that I’ve always gravitated towards. I love dark colors.” Case in point: Ortega has recently been stepping out in looks that seem like homages to her character, donning black lace à la Versace and Valentino at events.

She even adds that, like her goth character, color “pains” her. “It really pains me to wear color sometimes but I do it because I feel like I have to. See I’m not as confident in myself as Wednesday is,” she quips.

But if there is one thing that’s new in Ortega’s beauty arsenal that she inherited directly from her on-screen teenage counterpart, it’s Wednesday’s black nail polish. She shares, “I never really used to wear nail polish. But now I feel like my nails are always painted black.”

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