Ortega opened up about the changes she made during production on the viral Netflix series “Wednesday” to keep the teen role grounded in reality.
“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,” Ortega said during Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast. (Via Insider.)
The “Scream VI” star admitted, “There were times on that set where I even became unprofessional in a sense where I just started changing lines. The script supervisor thought I was going with something, and then I would have to sit down with the writers and they’d be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?’ And I would have to go through and explain why I couldn’t do certain things.”
Ortega continued, “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 this dress that she has to wear for a school dance and she says, ‘Oh my god, I love it! I can’t believe I said that. I literally hate myself.’ And I had to go, ‘No, there’s no way.’”
Ortega previously recalled in a Netflix Q&A that she was “blown away” by the disconnect between the dialogue and the character. “I felt like we were able to avoid a lot of dialogue in an attempt to make her sound human,” Ortega said in 2022.
On the new “Armchair Expert” episode, Ortega admitted to feeling “very protective” over Wednesday as a whole.
“I grew very, very protective of her, but you can’t lead a story and have no emotional arc because then it’s boring and nobody likes you. And Wednesday is a teenager,” she said. “When you’re little and you say morbid, offensive stuff, it’s funny and endearing and, ‘Aww, you don’t know any better.’ But then you become a teenager, it’s, ‘Now you’re being nasty and you know it.’ There’s less excuse.”
Ortega didn’t leave set in confidence that the series would find an audience.
“I can’t watch my work, but I can go home from set and say, ‘The scene that we shot today felt good,’” Ortega said. “On ‘Wednesday,’ there was not a scene in that show that I went home and was like, ‘OK, that should be fine.’”
However, Ortega has “seen a lot” of the show “against my will” because she had to perform approximately “200 lines of ADR” in post-production. Filming “Wednesday” in Romania also conflicted with Ortega reprising her role on Netflix’s “You,” leaving the actress “devastated.”
Despite Ortega’s critically acclaimed turn as Wednesday and landing Screen Actors Guild Awards and Golden Globe nominations, the “X” star chalks up the series’ success to audiences just being “easy to please.”
“People are shipping out content so fast, and the fact that we actually sat down and spent considerable time on that, I think, naturally would elevate or maybe make a show more appealing to an audience,” Ortega said.
The actress also revealed that she asked executive producer/director Burton to not hire a choreographer for the viral dance sequence because she had “stopped trusting outside opinion” about the character and was “so overwhelmed.”
“Initially, it was supposed to be a flash mob and she was supposed to start dancing and everyone was supposed to pick up on it and start dancing with her. And that, I vetoed, because why would she be OK with that?” the former Disney Channel star said. “I said, ‘Either cut it or have Wednesday knock someone out, and then it’s done.’”
The dance sequence ultimately felt “very Wednesday” to Ortega due to her creative control over it. Ortega is also serving as an executive producer on Season 2 of the series.