As the old adage goes, «Wednesday‘s child is full of woe.» Which is, coincidentally, exactly how Jenna Ortega felt bringing the Addams Family’s middle child to life on screen in Wednesday. The actress revealed during a recent Netflix Q&A that the Tim Burton–directed series’ intense shooting schedule — in addition to the multiple cello and fencing classes she took to properly embody the character — pushed her to the breaking point, as EW.com reports.
«It was show up to set two hours early, do that 12- to 14-hour day, then go home and then get on a Zoom and have whatever lesson that I had,» Ortega recalled, per Variety. «Or show up to my apartment, [and] my cello teacher was already waiting for me. It was just constantly going, and if you could on a weekend, if we weren’t shooting the sixth day that week, it was, ‘All right, well then, we’ll get your lessons in on that day.'»
While she began her fencing and cello lessons months before arriving in Romania to shoot the series, Ortega explained that the scene in which her character performs the Rolling Stones’ 1966 hit «Paint It Black» on cello was particularly difficult because it required her to play a piece meant for two cellos all by herself.
«I did not get any sleep. I pulled my hair out,» Jenna Ortega said. «There’s so many FaceTime calls that my dad answered of me hysterically crying.»
The actress said she was «very adamant about being as well prepared» for the performance as possible because she wanted Burton to be able to use footage that prominently featured her playing. She added, «That’s so much more believable if you could see your face.»
Burton, of course, had full confidence in Ortega. The actress said the director and executive producer attempted to alleviate some of her stress by telling her, «Oh, don’t worry, you’re going to do great. It’s gonna look great.»
That didn’t make actually playing any easier, though. «I didn’t know where my hands were even supposed to go,» Ortega said. «And then I had to make two cellos come out of one cello, which was ridiculous.»
The «Paint It Black» performance wasn’t the only Herculean task Ortega pulled off while filming the show. The actress notably crafted her viral Wednesday dance in just two days — again, with very little sleep — by drawing inspiration from rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees and Denis Lavant in the 1999 film Beau Travail. And, to make matters worse, Ortega also discovered she had tested positive for COVID-19 while shooting the dance sequence.
Last October, Ortega called her experience becoming Wednesday «the most overwhelming job I’ve ever had» during a conversation for Interview magazine with her Wednesday costar — and previous Wednesday Addams — Christina Ricci.
«I would call my parents every night in a panic because I felt like it was different from any job I had ever done before where I typically have that time to sit into the character,» she said at the time. «We didn’t really have time for rehearsals. I remember it being very stressful and confusing. I did the best I could, but that’s probably the most overwhelming job I’ve ever had.»