While Jenna Ortega has become America’s Goth Sweetheart after her world-storming role as Wednesday, one of Netflix’s most popular series ever, some recent comments from her have generated controversy.
In a somewhat eyebrow-raising interview with Dax Shepard, Ortega talked about how much she personally changed the script in order to “protect” the character of Wednesday when she was written in ways that Ortega considered nonsensical for her personality.
“Everything that she does, everything that I had to play, did not make sense for her character at all. Her being in a love triangle made no sense. There was a line about like, this dress that she has to wear for a school dance and she said, ‘Oh, my God, I love it. Ugh, I can’t believe I said that. I literally hate myself.’ And I had to go, ‘No, there’s no way.’”
“There was times on that set where I even became almost unprofessional, in a sense, where I just started changing lines. 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 to have to go through and explain why I couldn’t do certain things,” she said.
The thing is…what she’s saying makes a lot of sense. The examples she’s describing about Wednesday fawning over a dress or playing into a love triangle do in fact seems pretty counter to the character we ended up with onscreen. There’s another one about Wednesday starting a flash mob at a school dance, which I believe was turned into the Ortega-choreographed solo dance sequence that became a global sensation. In the scene, everyone is just staring at her like she’s lost her mind, rather than joining in, as may have been the original plan.
The problem, however, seems to be that Ortega has said all this…publicly. The idea being conveyed is that she knew better than the writers, which, even if she did, according to these examples, that’s not something you’d normally trot out into the public eye. It’s caused other TV producers showrunners to chime in saying that this is ill-advised behavior. Here’s Spartacus/Daredevil’s Steven DeKnight weighing in:
This all may be a bit awkward considering that Wednesday is obviously coming back for season 2, and Ortega is working with many of the same writers, no doubt. But it’s also possible the two camps have come to an understanding and now that Wednesday is a more developed character, she’ll be written how she’s “supposed to be” from baseline rather than Ortega stepping in to do rewrites which is not normally the role of an actor. That said, it’s also not a great look to label and up and coming star like Ortega “difficult” or “toxic” in an industry that routinely mistreats and ignores the contributions of women.
I am reminded a bit of a similar Netflix controversy in which Henry Cavill publicly lamented some of the writing decisions from The Witcher, and reportedly wanted to be more faithful to the books than the writers and showrunner was being. Of course, now he’s left the show entirely, three seasons into a five season arc, and while no official reason was given, many speculate that his conflict with the crew in this realm had a lot to do with it. Wednesday, similarly, would not survive losing Ortega, so hopefully all this can be resolved.
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