There are few performers whose roles have become associated with their names. Christopher Reeve will always be recognized as Superman, Kevin Conroy as the voice of Batman, and Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams.
So, when Netflix chose to revive The Addams Family series, which was founded by Charles Addams in 1938 as single-panel animations, it felt only logical to include Ricci in some capacity, according to writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar in an interview with Newsweek.
In The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993), Ricci brought Wednesday Addams to life for the first time. Now, 20-year-old Jenna Ortega is immortalizing the role of Wednesday on television.
Who Does Christina Ricci Play in ‘Wednesday’ on Netflix?
On Wednesday, Ricci, age 42, sees her successor many times as she assumes the post of teacher at Nevermore Academy, Wednesday Addams’ new school. After utilizing shady ways to save her brother from his bullies, the 15-year-old enrolls at a school for students with extraordinary abilities.
Marilyn Thornhill is the name of Ricci’s character, although unlike the pupils and teachers of Nevermore Academy, Ms. Thornhill has no unique skills or powers. In one episode, headmistress Larissa Weems (Gwendoline Christie) reveals that she is a “normie,” or typical person.
This is not the first time that Gough and Millar have recruited a franchise’s most recognized actor to play a new role alongside their successor. Christopher Reeve, who portrayed Superman, played Dr. Virgil Swann alongside Tom Welling’s Clark Kent in their sitcom Smallville.
“When you undertake anything like this, you really want the blessing of the great actor who originated the part,” remarked Gough. Similar to when Christopher Reeve starred in Smallville. You desire this seal of approval.”
Gough remarked, in reference to Ricci, “She really enjoyed the writing. She adored this rendition of it. In terms of the tale, [it] was completely different from her interpretation, and she simply desired to be a part of it.
“And, obviously, she had a wonderful rapport with Tim Burton, who helmed four episodes of the program.” Together, they had performed Sleepy Hollow, and she was game. She was completely committed and an absolute pleasure to deal with; she was an exceptional professional.”
Thornhill teaches botany at Nevermore, but she is also constantly there to encourage Wednesday during her first year of school, which Gough and Millar believed demonstrated Ricci’s confidence in Ortega’s ability to portray the role.
“It was great to witness Jenna and Christina in the same scene as their renowned characters, a true passing of the torch from one generation to the next,” added Millar.
“But, yes, [Ricci] was extremely excited and willing to do anything on set, so it was great, simply the timing worked out brilliantly in terms of her availability and the character she reacted to, […] you hope for these things and then they occur.”
“It was one of those performances in which everything we could have desired occurred. Catherine Zeta-Jones was enlisted to play Morticia. We have an Oscar-winning actress with such a captivating screen presence as Morticia Addams, it’s just… you couldn’t ask for finer casting,” Millar concluded.
“And Luis [Guzmán] as Gomez as well, we loved the notion of bringing it back [to the comics] to be more faithful to the original Addams Family pictures, the New Yorker magazine cartoons. Gomez’s silhouette resembles that of Luis, and it’s great to see the entire family together.
“We held a photoshoot with Catherine, Luis, and Isaac [Ordonez], who portrays Pugsley, to ensure that our portrayal of the Charles Addams cartoons is accurate.”
Wednesday is now accessible on Netflix.