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Cartoonist Charles Addams first created his Addams Family comics in the 1930s, continuing to publish them in the New Yorker until his death in 1988, and spawning several TV series and a trio of 1990s films as a result. Almost 30 years after Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia and Christina Ricci brought the supernatural family to life on the big screen, another crop of A-listers is putting a new animated spin on the black comedy in MGM’s The Addams Family.
Charlize Theron voices matriarch Morticia, taking over the iconic character after “coming up with a different-sounding voice and playing around with a lot of that stuff” alongside co-directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan. Of the family’s 80-year staying power, Theron told The Hollywood Reporter at the Los Angeles premiere Sunday, “I think there’s something inspiring about a family that is so different and they don’t just think it’s OK, they think it’s great that they’re that different. We should all aspire to that.”
The new take follows the Addams family as they move to modern New Jersey and face off against a prying reality TV host. Oscar Isaac, Chloe Grace Moretz, Finn Wolfhard, Better Midler, Nick Kroll, Elsie Fisher, Snoop Dogg and Allison Janney also voice roles in the film, with Fisher noting how “the new incarnation, as almost all Addams Family incarnations do, tackles modern issues, and I think our film really talks about the good and the bad part of social media, the horrors of mob mentality and how ostracized people can be attacked.”
Vernon also added the importance of the story’s immigration storyline, as the family moves from foreign lands to settle in the U.S. and are criticized for their differences.
“They’re a tight-knit family that gets judged all of the time and the only reason that they come back is that they give each other unconditional love, they respect each other, they have each other’s backs and I think that’s why they’re resilient,” he said.
The cast also had to face the challenge of taking on beloved cultural roles and adding their own spin while also staying true to the story. Kroll, who voices Uncle Fester, said, “there was no way I was going to be able to compete with Christopher Lloyd, he had done such a specific thing with him that so many people in our generation connected with. I went back to the original and I looked at Fester and he felt a little bit like Curly from The Three Stooges to me, so I added some of that and gave him a little speech impediment to add another element.”
Lucifer star Aimee Garcia plays new character Denise and did not have the original to compete with, but wanted to add some diversity to her performance that wasn’t in the script, improving some lines where she spoke Spanish, which ended up in the final cut.
“It’s a very small victory but I’m so proud of it because after they cast me as Denise, which wasn’t originally written Latina, they made her Latina,” Garcia said. “When I was a kid I didn’t see myself really represented on the big screen so I feel like it’s a small win but I’ll take it. It’s time to reflect the real fabric of society but also keeping the classic aspect of it.”
The premiere, held at Westfield Century City mall, also welcomed Christina Aguilera and Karol G, who have original songs in the movie. The Addams Family hits theaters Friday.
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