The Addams Family has a special place in Gwendoline Christie‘s heart. So it was equally exciting for the actress, who plays Nevermore Academy Principal Larissa Weems on Netflix’s Wednesday, to step into the franchise.
“I absolutely was obsessed with The Addams Family. I’ve always loved The Addams Family,” the Game of Thrones alum told ET’s Denny Directo during the Wednesday virtual junket. “I grew up watching it — the black-and-white version of the show — when it was on television when I was quite young.”
“And I just loved that there were these larger-than-life gothic, strange and extraordinary characters all living together and being themselves. It definitely felt like something that I could identify with, in a world that felt like it might have a place for me,” Christie said.
In the upcoming eight-episode series, which puts the spotlight on Wednesday Addams, Christie plays the headmistress of Nevermore, a school for outcasts, misfits and those with special powers, that Wednesday enrolls in after an inciting incident at her last school. Larissa is also the former archrival of Wednesday’s mother, Morticia Addams (Catherine Zeta-Jones), which adds a layer of tension.
“I really love Larissa Weems,” the actress marveled. “Some people say I’ve been typecast as the mistress of a school for outcasts, which I’m very happy about, but I did look at a few people [for inspiration]. I spent some time with the headmistress of a school, also a very high-powered, very glamorous friend of mind who is in control of a lot of people. But also for me, what I was looking at was the idea of who this character was and how it was speaking to me.”
Christie described Larissa as “quite mysterious” when Wednesday begins, and looked to the past for inspiration in creating her character’s mannerisms and demeanor.
“I’m interested in this idea of a screen siren — a Hitchcockian screen siren — and I thought that maybe someone like that would want to transform in that way,” she explained. “I’ve always been interested in the presentation of those kind of Hitchcockian women. And I thought about what if I were to create my own version now and that version was in a position of power and she was a woman not living through the trauma, but in charge of her own destiny.”
Though she didn’t spend as much time getting into character when she slipped into costume on Wednesday when compared to the armor she often wore as Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones, Christie shared “it’s been a lifelong dream” to work with legendary costumer Colleen Atwood, who designed the wardrobe on the Netflix series.
“It was a true honor and a privilege to work with Colleen and she was just so collaborative. I didn’t expect that too because she’s a great genius at costume design. But she and Tim [Burton] embraced this idea I had of how the character would look,” she credited.
“Also for me, I want to play a range of different characters in different incarnations. What she does is quite close to witchcraft in terms of identifying what it is about my body that works, what could be enhanced, what could be changed and altered,” Christie said of Atwood’s process. “It didn’t take so long to get into those costumes, you know? Certainly by the time I finished Game of Thrones, I was able to take the armor off with one hand in less than 15 minutes. But that did take eight or nine years.”
As for Wednesday, Christie said her experience working with leading lady Jenna Ortega and the rest of the cast was a highlight. “I think that the times that we’re living in, the idea of some kind of levity being brought to our screens — a world that’s really immersive but one that is strange and funny and light and suspenseful — is one that captivates me.”
“And I just love working with Jenna; I loved our scenes together. We were both very invested in this idea of a relationship between two women with a vast distance in ages and different kinds of backgrounds and very different personality types coming together and having this complex and often very challenging relationship,” the actress shared. “But an extraordinary bond develops between them.”
Wednesday premieres Nov. 23 on Netflix.
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