Actress excelled in lead role, earning praise from director Tim Burton and co-stars
Jenna Ortega it was locked in a cellar with a corpse inside X – The sign of death🇧🇷 He shot and killed a serial killer Panic🇧🇷 And destroyed a member of a satanic cult with a boat propeller The Nanny: Queen of Death🇧🇷
He also slept with the lights on until his teens.
“I was a scared cat,” said Ortega, who plays the title character in Netflix’s new crime series, Wandinhabased on the pessimistic character of Addams familyavailable on the platform.
Yet here she was, the star of a series that, for all its icy humor, features at least one dismemberment and disembowelment in just the pilot episode. 🇧🇷Tim Burton he directed the first four episodes.) But for Ortega, the interest is in the deeper layers of the character.
“My Wandinha has hidden security,” Ortega said on a bright Sunday afternoon this month, her long dark brown hair waving in the breeze from a video call as she strolled through downtown Salt Lake City, cell phone in hand. . “She’s on a mission and she won’t let anyone get in her way.”
Unlike the movies of Addams family from the early 90s, when Christina Ricci played a 10-year-old Wandinha Addams, the new eight-episode series, set in the present day, features Ortega as a 16-year-old version of the character, who is sent to a pariah boarding school after an accident expels him from her public school. She (She’s dealing with piranhas and a pool full of bullies; Wednesday she has no regrets.)
Even in a school populated by vampires and werewolves – her parents, Morticia and Gomez (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones And Louis Guzman), they met there when they were students – Wandinha is a freak among freaks, the subject of frequent gossip due to her and her family’s alleged bloody past. But Wandinha is also the latest in a long line of teenage roles for Ortega, a former Disney star who was, in some ways, eager to move on.
“I was very hesitant to do it,” she said. “I went through all of that with teen shows.” And there was also the pressure to take her first role in a well-known franchise.
At 20, Ortega has been performing in front of the camera for half his life and has the confidence to match. She is the fourth of six children born in the Mexican neighborhood of La Quinta, California in the Coachella Valley, where she got a passion for acting as a child.
“I saw Dakota Fanning in Flames of vengeance and I told my parents, ‘Boys, I’m going to be Puerto Rican Dakota Fanning,'” she said, walking past trees as she walked through town in a green turtleneck and headphones around her neck. Mexican; her mother’s roots are Mexican and Puerto Ricans.)
She spent the next three years “relentlessly begging” to be an actress until her mother, an ER nurse, bought a book of monologues and posted a video of her on Facebook when she was 9 years old. A casting director saw it, and a year later, Ortega landed her first television role, in the comedy robwith Rob Schneider🇧🇷
Then came a cascade of cards, including that of young Jane in jane the virgin10 years, and, 12 years, a starring role as Harley Diaz in the Disney Channel series the middle sister (2016-18). A month later, she dropped out of eighth grade to pursue her Disney dream.
the middle sister it lasted for three seasons, after which Ortega was eager to get more mature roles. But his experience with Disney, he discovered, had its limits.
“Disney kids have a huge stigma,” she said. “People automatically think that’s all you can do, that’s all you’re good for.”
But things soon got better: In 2018, she was cast opposite Penn Badgley in the second season of the psychological thriller. Youthen landed his first of several horror roles in The Nanny: The Killer Queen in 2020.
His breakout role has arrived Life after, released in January, focused on the aftermath of a high school shooting. It was Megan Park’s directorial debut and Ortega’s first time acting in a film.
“Her ability to know when to go all out and when to hold back — to have that understanding of herself as an artist at such a young age — is truly rare,” Park said in a recent phone conversation.
When the creators and showrunners of WandinhaAl Gough and Miles Millar (smallville), started developing their main character, they didn’t want to follow the typical arc of teenage female protagonists, which usually range from shyness to confidence. The two have two teenage daughters each: they know very well how things are.
🇧🇷Wandinha “Start strong and stay that way,” said Millar.
After writing the first four episodes, they had only one director in mind: Burton, who had turned down the film. The Addams family in 1991, due to a scheduling conflict.
“We thought he wouldn’t even read it,” Gough said of Burton, who hadn’t directed a television series since 1980. “We thought we’d have a better chance of hitting the lottery.”
To their surprise, Burton called them four days after receiving the script for the first episode.
“The script brought back memories of my high school days,” Burton, who also served as an executive producer, said in a recent video interview from Los Angeles. “The characters were the reason I wanted to do the show. I didn’t have a burning desire to do television.”
But realizing their collective vision would require the perfect Wandinha. They auditioned hundreds of actresses, but Ortega brought the empathy they were looking for to the character.
“She’s a silent film actress,” Burton said. “She Transmit emotions with your eyes.”
Zeta-Jones said she was impressed by Ortega’s assertiveness in protecting her vision on Wednesday.
“She wasn’t intimidated by Tim,” she said. “He’s a great director, but she kept asking him, ‘I’m going to do it this way, but can we try this way too?’ – and that’s how it was.”
But Ortega said it was impossible to completely ignore the pressure of taking on a role immortalized by Ricci, who plays a newly created character on the show, the school’s most “normal” teacher.
“With such an iconic character, you want to do her justice,” Ortega said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times. / TRANSLATION BY RENATO PRELORENTZOU