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Jenna Ortega almost didn’t play Wednesday‘s titular character; the actress shared that she passed on the role several times before ultimately taking it.
In a new interview published in The Sunday Times, the actress spoke about her career as a “scream queen,” why Hollywood loves seeing her soaked in blood, her “perfectionist” tendencies and what role she sees relationships presently playing in her life.
The Golden Globe-nominated actress also briefly opened up about her journey with Wednesday, a role that has changed the trajectory of her career but one, she says, she didn’t want “desperately,” according to the Times, from the moment she heard about it.
“I got the email, passed on it,” she recalled. “The only reason I went back is because Tim [Burton, director and executive producer of Wednesday] is such a legend, and we just happened to get along very well. But even then I said, ‘Ah, no — I think I’m OK,’ a couple [more] times.”
The Scream VI star, who is now circling Burton’s Beetlejuice 2 movie, revealed that her history of working in TV had a major influence on her decision to turn down the Netflix series role so many times.
“I had done so much TV in my life, all I’ve ever wanted to do is film,” she explained. “I was scared that by signing on to another television show it could prevent me from doing other jobs I really wanted and cared about.”
Ortega adds that she’s only been able to “prove” herself good enough for big-screen roles in the last few years. “When I first started acting, I don’t want to say nobody believed in me, but at the same time, nobody believed in me. You have to prove yourself,” she continued. “It’s only in the last three or four years that I’ve been able to start going up for film.”
The role of Wednesday has been a journey for Ortega, who has previously discussed grappling with the unexpected obsession around the show, including viewers’ interest in the first season’s now-viral dance scene — something she added to the show after telling the writers she didn’t want to do a flash mob sequence.
The change came after the actress said she felt “overwhelmed” after having “stopped trusting outside opinion” about the character. And it’s a sequence that, looking back, Ortega says she found “disorienting.”
“When they were telling me [it was going viral] I was trying to seem uplifted about it, like, ‘Oh, wow!’” she recalled to The Sunday Times. “But mentally, in my head, I was hoping people wouldn’t pay so much attention to that part. It’s disorientating. I don’t think people are naturally designed to have that many eyes on them.”
The dance scene, during the filiming of which the actress had COVID-19, she said, wasn’t the only thing Ortega changed about the show. In a recent interview, she also spoke about how she became “almost unprofessional” with script edits while on set, a byproduct of her becoming very “protective” of the character.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had to put my foot down on a set in the way that I had to on Wednesday because it’s so easy to fall into that category, especially with this type of show,” she recalled. “The script supervisor thought that I was going with something, and then I would have to sit down with the writers and they would be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?’ And I would have to go through and explain why I couldn’t do certain things.”
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