How 10-Year-Old Christina Ricci Saved 'The Addams Family's Ending
Netflix has announced that Christina Ricci, the most iconic actress to play Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family, will appear in their new show about Wednesday Addams ... as a character other than Wednesday Addams. That sounds like getting Jimi Hendrix in your band only to have him play the marimba, but it makes sense when you consider that Wednesday is supposed to be a teenager in this version. Still, perhaps Wednesday's new actress, Jenny Ortega, shouldn't get too attached to the role, because if anyone can convince this franchise's producers to dramatically change a central role in the middle of production, that's Ricci -- something she already did before she was even a teen herself.
See, the 1991 Addams Family movie is about Christoper Lloyd's character, Gordon Craven, posing as the family's long-lost Uncle Fester as part of a scam. But then, in the movie's dramatic climax, Gordon's head is struck by lightning and he remembers that he is Fester and was suffering from amnesia, setting the stage for the (far better) second movie. Also, let us remember that at one point, he saved the world from an alien invasion with his blunderbuss, so if his memory hadn't been restored, we would all be slaves to extraterrestrial bugs.
But that wasn't the movie's intended finale: according to director Barry Sonnenfeld, he wanted to end it with "Fester" being an impostor after all but being welcomed into the family after helping them defeat the scammers. They actually had the entire cast perform this ending at a table read ... which they hated. They wanted Lloyd to play the actual Fester, not some ripoff. Sonnenfeld defended the ending, pointing out that the script had a line about family being "a state of mind, not biology" and how that made for a potent message for the movie. But then the actors unleashed their secret weapon: a 10-year-old Ricci.
Ricci, described by Sonnenfeld as "the most articulate and intellectually gifted of any castmember," acted as the group's spokesperson and delivered an impassioned 10-minute plea on why Fester had to be Fester. She explained that the current ending would leave the audience "emotionally adrift" and make Gomez Addams look like an asshole. As Sonnenfeld later recalled: "Does that mean the real Fester is still out there? And how could Gomez just give up his search for his brother after all these years just because this impostor came into their family?" After that, a shaken Sonnenfeld conferred with producer Scott Rudin and writer Paul Rudnick, and, only two weeks before shooting, they decided to rewrite the end of the script because a little girl told them to.
Ironically, Sonnenfeld says that Christopher Lloyd was the only actor who didn't give a crap either way. After all, he had experience with dramatically changed scripts, considering the wacky revisions Back to the Future went through. Anyway, if the Netflix show does feature Uncle Fester, we hope the other characters give him his due for singlehandedly liberating our species.
Top image: Paramount Pictures