When Tim Burton received the pitch to direct Netflix’s upcoming Wednesday Addams series, co-showrunners Miles Millar and Al Gough say the filmmaker responded just four days later to take on the project.
Armed with an idea born more than three years ago, Millar and Gough had to track down the rights to the Addams Family before they could get started. Once the logistics were handled and a pilot script was written, Millar and Gough approached Burton to helm the series.
“Tim was always our first choice to do it, but people were like, ‘He’s never done television,’” Gough told The Hollywood Reporter at the show’s Hollywood premiere. “But we said, ‘If we don’t ask, the answer’s no.’ So, we sent the script to his agent. His agent really liked it, and sent it to Tim, and then shockingly, four days later, he answered and said he would love to get on the phone and talk to us about it. We did and he basically committed right then.”
In its eight-episode debut, Wednesday follows the eldest Addams sibling as she attends Nevermore Academy and attempts to master her emerging psychic ability and solve a family mystery.
“I couldn’t really cope,” added Gwendoline Christie, who plays Nevermore Academy principal Larissa Weems, on receiving the call about the project. “I got a text saying, ‘Hi Gwen, Tim Burton would like to speak to you,’ and I thought I was going to spontaneously combust because I’ve wanted to work with Tim Burton my entire life. I just think that Tim is one of our great artists, and I mean this in the sense that he is a visionary. And he is unadulteratedly himself, and I think that our industry and our world needs to celebrate more artists who are entirely themselves and exist only to express themselves.”
“[Tim] is really, really sweet guy, and probably one of the most collaborative directors I’ve ever worked with,” said star Jenna Ortega, who plays the titular role of Wednesday Addams. “Maybe that’s why his work is so great because it’s something that people can agree on, and everyone feels good in. I feel like I learned a lot from him. I’ve never worked with somebody who was such a visionary, and I cherish that experience.”
When Millar and Gough met Ortega, the actress became the immediate frontrunner for the role of Wednesday, as she channeled the “intensity, intelligence and dark deadpan humor” necessary for the job.
“We talked to Tim about this — unless we found the right Wednesday, there was no show,” said Millar. “But as soon as we saw her, we called him and said, ‘You’ve got to meet her, we think we found our Wednesday.’ He fell in love with her when he met her too, and it was sort of set in stone.”
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Luis Guzmán and Fred Armisen also star in the series, alongside Christina Ricci, who notably played Wednesday Addams in the original 1991 film.
Zeta-Jones portays the iconic Morticia Addams in the show — a transformation that left the actress with “goosebumps and a bit teary eyed” when she saw herself in the costume for the first time. “Our costume designer, who has worked and collaborated with Tim Burton so many times — they are like a team when it comes to the creativity of the look,” Zeta-Jones said. “[Costume designer] Colleen Atwood, I worked with her on Chicago, so she was my girlfriend who was creating this amazing iconic look for me and asking me what I thought, and that was wonderful to have that collaboration.”
Ahead of the show’s premiere, Ortega hopes audiences will “have fun with it,” above all.
“You know, don’t take it too seriously,” the actress said. “Watch it with friends, debate, talk over it. It’s a little bit of a mystery, so I think it’s very engaging in that sense.”
Wednesday premieres on Netflix on Nov. 23.