Gwendoline Christie was given more than one “unbelievable opportunity” to work on Netflix’s new series “Wednesday”.
The actress recalled walking through a field when she received a text message from director Tim Burton who wanted to meet with her about the hit comedy-horror. She was later offered the role of Principal Larissa Weems and was even given the freedom to help design the character.
“[Burton] said, ‘You can do whatever you like with the character, feel free to make it whatever you want and we’ll keep talking about it,’” Christie told Entertainment Weekly. “And that was an unbelievable opportunity from this great cinematic master.”
Christie began to imagine who Weems- the leader of Nevermore Academy- might be as she worked alongside Burton and costume designer Colleen Atwood. The character is responsible for protecting a school full of outcasts, including the titular Wednesday Addams [Jenna Ortega].
“This idea kept coming to me of Larissa Weems being someone who was an outcast, who went to a school for outcasts, that was always second best and was always in Morticia’s [Catherine Zeta-Jones] shadow,” Christie shared. “What kept coming to me was this idea of this Hitchcock-style heroin, this screen siren, that maybe that young woman would look to our mystic portal, the cinema, to be an incarnation of her fantasies.”
The actress noted that “weirdly, Tim had exactly the same idea and so did Colleen Atwood,” adding that there were two heroins that were referenced most.
“We were looking at Tippi Hedren and Kim Novak,” Christie told the outlet. “I wanted to push that idea. I like to transform into characters and people that are very far away from myself and I would never be cast as this part. It was an opportunity to create that and to inhabit that sort of impenetrable, imperious character with that classic idea of femininity.
“But whereas Hitchcock heroins tend to have all sorts of trauma being exacted upon them, for this to be a woman who was in charge of her own fate, who was ruthlessly ambitious and who was willingly putting herself into dangerous and extreme situations, was exciting to me,” she continued, noting that she watched numerous Hitchcock films “to examine a different way of moving, of poise, elegance, and a more balletic stance,” in order to prepare for the role.
“Women in those movies would hold themselves with confidence and grace,” she added, in which the same can be said about Weems.
The actress went on to praise the show’s hair and makeup department for helping her transform into Nevermore’s principal.
“It is the first time I’ve ever felt beautiful on screen,” she said. “I cannot express my extreme gratitude more heartily to Tim and Colleen and our hair and makeup team. Colleen Atwood is rightfully a legend, and what she does is close to witchcraft in terms of transformation.”
She added that it’s been “an honour of my life” to work with Burton and Atwood, whom she noted made her feel like her body “was celebrated and beautiful.”
“Wednesday” is now streaming on Netflix.