Jenna Ortega: I became ‘unprofessional’ on ‘Wednesday’ set

Jenna Ortega has confessed to standing her ground several times while filming “Wednesday.” The 20-year-old actress disclosed that she altered several scripts that did not align with her character without informing the writers.

During an interview with fellow actor and “Armchair Expert” podcast host Dax Shepard, 48, Ortega revealed that she did not receive all of the scripts when she signed up for the show, and therefore, she assumed that it would be more somber.

However, after reading the whole series, she realized that it was aimed at a younger audience.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had to put my foot down more on a set in a way that I had to on ‘Wednesday,’” she shared. “Everything that Wednesday does, everything I had to play, did not make sense for her character at all.”

She continued to give examples of some out-of-character moments in the show, revealing: “Her being in a love triangle? It made no sense. There was a line about a dress she has to wear for a school dance and she says, ‘Oh, my God, I love it. Ugh — I can’t believe I said that. I literally hate myself.’ I had to go, ‘No.’

“There were times on that set where I even became almost unprofessional in a sense where I just started changing lines,” Ortega admitted. “The script supervisor thought I was going with something and then I had to sit down with the writers, and they’d be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?’ And I’d have to go and explain why I couldn’t go do certain things.”

In the end, the actress from “Scream VI” desired to provide her character with greater complexity, and she became extremely possessive of the role in “Wednesday.”

“You can’t lead a story and have no emotional arc because then it’s boring and nobody likes you. When you are little and say very morbid, offensive stuff, it’s funny and endearing. But then you become a teenager and it’s nasty and you know it. There’s less of an excuse,” Ortega explained.

Currently, “Wednesday” is Netflix’s second most popular English-language series ever, but while filming, Ortega didn’t have much confidence in the show’s ability to attract viewers.

“I can’t watch my work, but I can go home from set and say, ‘The scene that we shot today felt good,’” Ortega shared. “On ‘Wednesday,’ there was not a scene in that show that I went home and was like, ‘OK, that should be fine.’”

She also admitted that she doesn’t want to be known mainly for her role in the Addams family series.

“Now a lot of people know me from [‘Wednesday’]. It’s not my proudest moment internally, which I think also adds an extra level of insecurity and stress, because it’s like, now I’m finally getting these offers or these places that I want but I don’t want to be known specifically for that,” she said.

In her interview as ELLE’s April 2023 cover star, Ortega revealed that she experiences a significant fear of letting people down and failing to meet their expectations.

“I want to live up to people’s expectations, which is something that I need to get over, but I’m also scared that, I don’t know, maybe someone will get to know me too well and realize that I’m not all that,” she told ELLE.

While she said she sometimes feels disbelief when complimented, she also allows the praise to encourage her to find her own voice in the industry.

“The kind words that I hear that they say about me through other people are unbelievable to me. I feel like just the people in my life see me in a way that I don’t really see myself,” she shared.

Tim Burton, director and executive producer of “Wednesday,” told ELLE that Ortega has the lead character “in her soul.”

“You have to kind of ‘be’ Wednesday, and that’s what Jenna is,” Burton said. “Whether she likes it or not, she’s got that in her soul, and as a person.”

“Wednesday” is currently streaming on Netflix and was recently renewed for a second season, where Ortega will serve as an executive producer.