Jenna Ortega Explains Why She Initially Passed on 'Wednesday' Role

The 20-year-old actress also didn't think anyone would watch the Netflix show.

After Wednesday dropped on Netflix, the series rocketed its way to the top, becoming the No. 1 show in 83 countries and the second most-watched English-language show in Netflix history. But as far as Jenna Ortega is concerned, she never envisioned that kind of success, let alone being a part of it.

The 20-year-old actress tells The Sunday Times that when the opportunity first came up to star in the series, she wasn't too excited about the role. What's more, Ortega says she actually turned down the part of Wednesday Addams for a very specific reason. 

"I got the email, passed on it," she tells the U.K. outlet. "I had done so much TV in my life, all I’ve ever wanted to do is film. When I first started acting, I don’t want to say nobody believed in me, but at the same time nobody believed in me. You have to prove yourself. It’s only in the last three or four years that I’ve been able to start going up for film. I was scared that by signing on to another television show it could prevent me from doing other jobs I really wanted and cared about."

Ortega says she revisited the opportunity, but even then she struggled with accepting the role.

"The only reason I went back is because Tim [Burton, director and executive producer of Wednesday] is such a legend, and we just happened to get along very well," she explains. "But even then I said, ‘Ah, no -- I think I’m OK,’ a couple [more] times."

Ortega says she's grateful about how everything turned out, including catapulting her as one of the most coveted actresses in Hollywood. But early on, while filming the show in Romania, the budding actress says she didn't expect the show to have much success. 

"I didn’t expect the reaction. The [Wednesday] cast and I, I remember, we used to talk about it in Romania [where the show was filmed], we were like, ‘Hey, what do you think will happen with the show?’ That was it, that was the most we ever really got into it," she shares. "So I thought it wasn’t going to be watched. That it will be a nice little gem that someone finds."

Ortega has since owned the Wednesday Addams role, turning an original dance sequence into a global sensation and earning high-profile nominations at the Golden Globe Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards for her breakthrough performance. 

During an appearance on Dax Shepard's podcast, Armchair Expert, Ortega opened up about owning the role and she spoke candidly about pushing back about specific scenes and lines of dialogue she felt were out of character for Wednesday.

"A job like Wednesday, I was trying something completely different. I'm naturally a very expressive person. I haven't really done a teen show like that before. It's not typically the kind of TV that I would watch, so it felt very out of place for me. I can't watch my work, but I can go home from set and say, 'The scene that we shot today felt good.' On Wednesday, there was not a scene in that show that I went home and [said], 'OK, that should be fine,'" Ortega revealed to Shepard and his podcast co-host and actress, Monica Padman.

"Now, a lot of people know me from that. It's not my proudest moment internally, which, I think, also adds an extra level of insecurity and stress because it's like, no, I'm finally getting these offers to these places that I want, but I don't want to be known specifically for that," she said.