Every member of the Addams Family is a fan-favorite, but Wednesday Addams is somehow on another level. Hence, the fact that finally got to be the focus of her own TV series in 2022 with Netflix’s "Wednesday Addams," starring Jenna Ortega in the titular role. Every actress that’s played Wednesday in the more than half a century she’s been around has given the character a new flavor, and so has Ortega: As a relatively older actress, she plays Wednesday as a teenager, which gives the character a more serious edge this time around, per Variety. Ortega is also of Hispanic descent, per Newsweek. But there are things that never change. Images from the series show Ortega donning Wednesday’s trademark pigtails, black dress with the white collar, and deadpan stare. It’s the look shared by several actresses over the decades, including the OG Lisa Loring and the one who arguably gave Wednesday the most visibility, Christina Ricci.
But there are also voice actors who have continually given Wednesday life and made sure to remind viewers that she’s the kookiest and spookiest of the Addams clan. Read on to learn more about the actresses behind Wednesday Addams and what they’re doing now. Snap. Snap.
You either know Lisa Loring from the 1964 original series of "The Addams Family" as the adorable pint-sized version of Wednesday Addams or you know her from a viral clip of her dancing as Wednesday that’s gotten millions of views on YouTube. Either way, she’s the original, the first girl to portray the iconic character, and Christina Ricci was going to have to rip the role from her cute little braids. Loring, who started acting when she was only three and was cast for the role when she was five, portrayed Wednesday during the show’s two-season run, notes Yahoo!. In 2017, she recalled having to memorize her lines with help from her mother and grandmother because she could not yet read (via YouTube). The experience was positive, however, and Loring compared the cast and crew to a real family.
Loring reprised the role in 1977 for the TV movie "Halloween with the New Addams Family," per IMDb. She went on to establish an acting career primarily on TV series, including the 1966 show "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.," the 1978 series "Fantasy Island," and the soap opera "As the World Turns." Her career slowed in the 1990s, and Loring sought help from a rehab center for drug addiction, reports People. She explored other careers in interior design and praised Ricci for her rendition of Wednesday. Her most recent acting credit comes from a role in the 2015 horror-comedy "Doctor Spine," via IMDb.
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Cindy Henderson’s introduction into the world of the Addams Family actually came on an episode of "The New Scooby-Doo Movies," per IMDb. The 1972 show regularly featured special guests (via IMDb) and in one episode, the mystery-solving gang finds themselves at the Addams Family mansion only to find that Wednesday has been kidnapped. Whereas many of the cast members from the original 1964 series returned to voice their characters for the episode, Henderson stepped in for Lisa Loring and went on a run as Wednesday for the 1973 animated series "The Addams Family," notes Hal Erickson’s "Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia." As it turns out, the Scooby-Doo episode was just a way for the new Addams Family cartoon to test the waters, and the resulting series was on the air until 1975. Fun fact: 11-year-old Jodie Foster voiced Pugsley Addams. Pugsley played Wednesday’s older brother, but he would become the younger brother in the 1990s incarnation of the family.
That was the last time Henderson portrayed Wednesday, but she had other things on her resume to boast about. Before the Scooby-doo role, she made appearances in "Bewitched" and "The Partridge Family" and would go on to have roles in the series "Shazam!" and "Barnaby Jones," according to her IMDb. Her last acting credit came in 1978.
Christina Ricci is arguably the definitive Wednesday Addams. She took a minor character from a fan-favorite TV series and cartoon and made it into a 1990s icon, per Showbiz Cheatsheet. The adorable deadpan, the dangerous wit. It’s no surprise that this role alone launched her career, forging a path to other classic roles. It began with the 1991 film "The Addams Family," a film whose instant success and $191 million payday (on a $30 million budget) immediately led to another classic, its sequel "The Addams Family Values," according to The Hollywood Reporter. Ricci was only 11 years old for the first film, but she made such an impact on the film and its production that you wouldn’t have guessed. She reportedly influenced the changing of the script’s finale, so that Uncle Fester was revealed to be the actual Uncle Fester.
Ricci went on to star in "Caspar," "Now and Then," and "Sleepy Hollow," along with several other films that made her a ubiquitous face in that decade, via IMDb. Then came a lull in her career when Ricci struggled to mold herself into Hollywood’s available roles for women her age, per the Los Angeles Times. But she never considered retiring, and that decision paid off. Recently she’s experienced a career resurgence with roles in "Grey’s Anatomy," the lead in "The Lizzie Borden Chronicles," and "Yellowjackets," per IMDb. Not to mention that she’s been invited into the new "Wednesday" Netflix series to play a teacher at Nevermore Academy, reports Variety.
On the heels of the success of the 1991 film "The Addams Family," a new cartoon series was revived to portray the family’s escapades, per IMDb. Simply named "The Addams Family," Debi Derryberry came in to voice Wednesday Addams, and the original Gomez Addams, John Astin from the 1964 live-action series, returned, as well, according to Hal Erickson’s "Television Cartoon Shows." Although there were some notable changes, such as more overt humor and jokes from the usually dry characters, the series was a hit and garnered 3.5 million viewers a week.
The series was lucky to have Derryberry, a voice-acting veteran who has shown an impressive range over a nearly 40-year career, according to her IMDb. She voiced Tinkerbell in the "Peter Pan and the Pirates" TV series, the cute green aliens in "Toy Story" (along with the Pizza Planet announcer), Jackie in "Bobby’s World," the baby ogres in "Shrek the Third," and has been the long-time voice for Jimmy Neutron. She’s also lent her talents to "Minions: The Rise of Gru," "The Powerpuff Girls," "The Lego Movie," "Smurfs: The Lost Village," and even made a live-action appearance on "iCarly." Still, that’s only to name a few. She will voice Jimmy Neutron for "Nicktoons" in 2024.
There’s one Addams Family production that usually gets swept under the rug: "Addams Family Reunion," along with its follow-up TV series. At this point, Paramount, who produced 1991’s "The Addams Family" and "Addams Family Values," was out of the picture, explains Yahoo!. This new 1998 sequel was made for TV with the intention that it would go straight to video, and the movie’s executives made it clear to director Dave Payne that they were there to ride the high of the previous two films. He was instructed not to take any creative risks…or do anything interesting, really. The original 1991 cast was gone—save for Lurch and The Thing—and a new actress stepped in for Wednesday Addams, Nicole Fugere. Overall, it had a promising cast with Tim Curry as Gomez and Darryl Hannah as Morticia, but they failed to overtake Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston. Unlike several aspects of the movie’s resulting product, Fugere made a good impression as Wednesday and was invited back to play the part for the follow-up series, "The New Addams Family," reports Den of Geek. The series notably brought back the original Gomez from the 1964 live-action series, John Astin, as Grandpapa Addams, per IMDb.
It seems as though Wednesday was the extent of Fugere’s acting career. According to IMDb, she had one other role in the 1996 film "Things I Never Told You." Her last credit came with the final season of "The New Addams Family," in 1999.
Chloë Grace Moretz
When MGM revived the Addams family into an animated feature, "The Addams Family," in 2019, no one was more perfect for the voice role than Chloë Grace Moretz, who admits she was always interested in the darker things in life (via The A.V. Club). More specifically, she admired the comedy inherent in Wednesday’s dark personality. Moretz also recognized a warmer side in Wednesday that she sought to emphasize, a tendency for the character to stand up for the underdog. Moretz then voiced the role again for the film’s 2021 sequel, "The Addams Family 2," in which Wednesday takes center stage. In the film, Morticia and Gomez Addams attempt to reconnect with angsty teen Wednesday. Moretz received positive reviews for being able to carry the weight of the film, which relied a lot on her wit, notes The New York Times. Moretz said that at this point, she knew Wednesday inside and out and was ready for the character’s emotional journey in the film (via ScreenSlam).
Moretz has had an enviable career before and since taking up Wednesday Addams. She started acting on a sitcom when she was 8 years old (per Bustle), and after years of taking up minor roles, she busted out her action chops in 2010’s "Kick-Ass," and it’s been uphill ever since, via IMDb. "Hugo," "Clouds of Sils Maria," and "The Equalizer" round out an impressive drama portfolio. Now, she’s headed into the world of dystopian sci-fi with Amazon’s "The Peripheral."
With a new generation comes a new Wednesday Addams, and Jenna Ortega is taking up the reins. She portrays an older, teenage Wednesday Addams who solves mysteries at her school, Nevermore Academy, for Tim Burton’s Netflix adaptation, "Wednesday," reports Variety. Unlike the other installments in the Addams family canon, the series is focused squarely on the Addams daughter, hence the title. Ortega acknowledged that this version of Wednesday is quite different from previous ones since the character can’t rely on her childhood cuteness to soften the blow of her insults and overall darkness. But it’s a chance to flesh out the Wednesday character, something that hasn’t been done before. For one, she’s trying to become a psychic, which adds an interesting twist. But Ortega has admitted that trying to portray Wednesday so that she’s still Wednesday, yet likable, was stressful and tricky, according to Interview Magazine.
In her young, yet extensive career — she’s 20 years old — Ortega has starred in various notable films as a child actor like "Iron Man 3," "Insidious Chapter: 2" and the TV series "Jane the Virgin," per her IMDb. Her career ramped up as the lead in Disney Channel’s "Stuck in the Middle," leading to exciting roles in the horror film "X," "Scream," and "The Fallout." She will reprise her role as Tara Carpenter for the upcoming "Scream 6."