Jenna Ortega Rewrote ‘Wednesday’ Lines That Didn’t ‘Make Sense’


Netflix’s Wednesday, a viral smash that cemented Jenna Ortega’s star in Hollywood, succeeds thanks to its very specific tone: The series transplants the kooky, traditionally flat character into a supernatural teen drama, allowing viewers to watch her amusingly squirm through the squishy emotional discomfort. It wasn’t easy to strike that balance, at least according to Ortega during a recent podcast interview.

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

During her appearance on Monday’s Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, the host noted that Ortega and Wednesday had the “tiniest needle to thread” between viewer expectations for a teen show and actually staying true to the character. As Ortega said during her interview, most of what Wednesday does in the series feels out of character. “Her being in a love triangle made no sense,” Ortega explained. “There was a line about a dress she has to wear for a school dance, and she said, ‘Oh my God, I love it. I can’t believe I said that. I literally hate myself.’ And I had to go, ‘No.’”

Jenna Ortega’s Dance Scene in ‘Wednesday’ Is the Moment the Show Becomes Great

At times, Ortega said, she took changes into her own hands. “I even became almost unprofessional in a sense—where I just started changing lines,” she told Shepard. “The script supervisor thought I was going with something, and then I had to sit down with the writers, and they would be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?' And I would have to go and explain why I couldn’t go do certain things.”

Later on, Ortega said she’d “vetoed” the initial plan for Wednesday’s now-viral dance scene, which was originally written as a flashmob in which everyone started dancing with her: “I said, either cut it, or have Wednesday knock someone out, and then it’s done.”

“I grew very, very protective of her,” Ortega added of her character. At the same time, she granted, “You can’t lead a story and have no emotional arc because then it’s boring and nobody likes you.”

During a previous interview about the dance scene, Ortega revealed that she’d wound up filming the entire number with COVID. The actress told NME that she woke up on the morning of the shoot feeling “like I’d been hit by a car and that a little goblin had been let loose in my throat and was scratching the walls of my esophagus.” (MGM, which produces Wednesday, told NME at the time that “strict COVID protocols were followed and once the positive test was confirmed production removed Jenna from set.”) Ortega said that she received medicine between takes while she waited for a positive COVID test result but there was no time to reshoot the scene.

Ortega has been making the press rounds as she prepares for the debut of her latest film, Scream VI. In an Elle profile published Tuesday, Wednesday creator Tim Burton mused that to succeed in the role, “You have to kind of ‘be’ Wednesday—and that’s what Jenna is. Whether she likes it or not, she’s got that in her soul, and as a person.”

How the Hell Is ‘Wednesday’ So Freaking Popular?

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