Why Wednesday cast member quit series before completing scenes

Hit series was hit with a big obstacle

Jacob Stolworthy
Friday 10 November 2023 19:39 GMT
Wednesday Addams Netflix show trailer

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Netflix series Wednesday was hit with an obstacle after losing one of its main cast members.

The series, an Addams Family spin-off centred on the character made famous by Lisa Loring and Christina Ricci, became one of the streaming service’s most successful titles after being released in November 2021.

A second season was swiftly commissioned, with Jenna Ortega set to return as the psychic teenager during her years at Nevermore Academy.

However, before the show’s stratospheric success, production was underway in Romania when it was hit by an unprecedented obstacle: Thora Birch, who joined the show in a regular role, has had to quit without completing her scenes.

A representative for MGM, who produces the series, told Deadline at the time: “Thora has returned to the States to attend to a personal matter and will not be returning to the production.”

According to sources who spoke to the outlet, Ghost World actor Birch has had to go home to deal with an illness in the family. It was also reported that, while Birch didn’t complete her scenes, she had “finished filming the bulk” of the role.

It turns out, according to Birch, that her decision stemmed from crdative decisions.

In October 2022, she told Entertainment tonight: “That became such a fluid, moving situation artistically, creatively from episode to episode. I had filmed a certain amount and there were some questions about how much more to go with that character and there were just some changes and adjustments made. It didn’t work out that I would be able to go back, so they are finding their own solutions.”

Birch was cast as Wednesday’s dorm mother Tamara Novak, and the role was overtaken by former Wednesday Addams actor, Ricci.

Returning for season two, alongside Ortega, are Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán, who play Morticia and Gomez Addams, respectively.

Netflix series ‘Wednesday’ starring Jenna Ortega
Netflix series ‘Wednesday’ starring Jenna Ortega (Netflix)

After just one week of release, Wednesday, which was developed by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, was streamed for a total of 341.2 million hours, beating a record held by Stranger Things.

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In an article about the show’s success, The Independent said that, despite Ortega’s strong lead performance, “it can’t escape certain trappings, namely the fact that it’s essentially Gen-Z Addams Family by way of Riverdale”.

Ortega’s previous credits include Ti West horrror X, the fifth and sixth Scream films and the forthcoming Beetlejuice 2, which, before the strikes, reunited her with Wednesday producer Tim Burton.

Also starring in Beetlejuice 2, a sequel to Burton’s 1988 horror comedy, is original stars Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara. The film’s release date is set for 6 September 2024.

Wednesday season two is expected to be released late 2024.

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