From 1960s sitcoms to Barry Sonnenfeld films to MGM animated iterations, “The Addams Family” is a property ripe for adaptation over the decades. But in preparation for “Wednesday,” Tim Burton’s live-action Netflix series about his family’s tragic teenage daughter, production designer Mark Scruton turned away from the screens and referenced the original source material.
“I didn’t look at the old movies on purpose, but I went back to the early Chas Adams cartoons,” he says, referring to the single-panel cartoons that began appearing in The New Yorker in 1938.
“With Tim, visually, he’s very much taken back,” Scruton said. Burton admits to being known for big, elaborate images, but emphasizes that in his films, “there’s nothing that isn’t meant to be in the frame.” And the cartoons are the same. Nothing is wasted.
Scruton took that approach when filming the Nevermore Academy dorm room Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) shares with Enid (Emma Myers), a werewolf with a penchant for brilliance and humor.
“We wanted to divide it into a black and white side and a colorful side, but we couldn’t figure out how to do that,” he said. The idea became that Enid had done it herself.
The centerpiece of the room is a giant window that looks like a spider’s web, half of which is painted in what Enid Scruton calls a “rainbow-covered explosion.” At the same time, the sacred, church-like quality of stained glass allows for a connection to Wednesday’s Gothic sensibilities.
“Never mind, there are so many different cultures. You have gorgons, vampires, sirens, werewolves — it’s a melting pot,” Scruton says. To reflect that architecturally, it drew from Gothic, Victorian, Ottoman and Moorish influences, among others.
“Chief Wims.” [Gwendoline Christie] Office is the biggest example. She has a gothic fireplace, but also a 60s modern desk, a very James Bond-style chair and a modern laptop. The real part is this crazy Rococo and even Chinese architecture. That room was meant to be the center of it all. Different styles emerge from there.
When it was too cold to shoot outside in Romania, Scruton’s team plastered existing trees and recreated them in the studio. To ensure continuity after winter changes the landscape of the forest, the workers collect thousands of autumn leaves, store them in drying rooms, and scatter them again on the forest floor after the season is over.
And you can’t forget about Easter eggs in Tim Burton’s project, most of them appear in the “normal” Jericho.
“Across the city, many storefronts have been stolen from Chas Adams cartoons. There’s a flower shop, a cobbler shop, a thrift store,” Scruton says. “And in Weathervane [coffee shop]There are all kinds of metal weather vanes attached to the wall. These elements refer to the Headless Horseman and Willy Wonka’s hat. Gargoyles in the quad evoke characters from Burton’s films, he said.
“There’s a little wrinkled head in Principal Weems’ office that says ‘Beetle.’ Tim had one in LA that we tried to get out there, but unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to send it internationally,” Scruton says. “We couldn’t prove it wasn’t real.”