Filmmaker and TV producer Steven DeKnight has responded after copping backlash over his comments about Wednesday star Jenna Ortega.
ICYMI: DeKnight previously took to Twitter to describe Ortega as “entitled” and “beyond toxic”, writing that she “publicity shit” on producers in her podcast chat with actor Dax Shepard.
Ortega said on the pod Armchair Expert that she became “almost unprofessional” while on the set of Wednesday, in particular when it came to reading her lines.
She admitted that when she received some of the scripts, the wording didn’t seem quite right to her so she’d work with producers to help finesse the wording into sentences her character Wednesday Addams would actually say.
And for that you call her “entitled” and “beyond toxic”? Let’s be honest, if this were a man, you’d probably call him “bold,” “hardworking” and “passionate”.
There’s also hints of ageism in there as well since the word “entitled” has been used for decades by older generations to belittle members of the younger generation when, by all accounts, Jenna Ortega is actually one of the hardest working people in Hollywood. More on that later.
Jenna Ortega played Wednesday Addams in the hit Netflix series. (Credit: Netflix)
Following the mass backlash, DeKnight hasn’t really apologised, but he’s clarified the motivation behind his comments.
“I can’t stress this enough: She’s an amazing talent,” he said DeKnight, per The New York Post.
“It was just an unfortunate situation to expose creative differences publicly,” he added, “and also I’ll admit that writers are on edge because of the impending strike, myself included. A perfect storm.”
DeKnight has produced and scripted shows such as Daredevil and Buffy the Vampire Slayer over his multi-decade career.
On the now-infamous podcast, Ortega said: “I don’t think I’ve ever had to put my foot down more on a set in a way that I had to on Wednesday.”
She went on to provide examples of times that she insisted on a rework of scripts.
“Her being in a love triangle? It made no sense. There was a line about a dress she has to wear for a school dance and she says, ‘Oh, my God, I love it. Ugh — I can’t believe I said that. I literally hate myself.’ I had to go, ‘No.’
“There were times on that set where I even became almost unprofessional in a sense where I just started changing lines.”
She added: “The script supervisor thought I was going with something and then I had to sit down with the writers, and they’d be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?’ And I’d have to go and explain why I couldn’t go do certain things.”
In his initial multi-tweet rant, Steven DeKnight wrote: “I love talking with actors about their lines/stories. But by the nature of the beast, they don’t have the full picture (in TV) of where the story is going and why some lines are needed for the whole to make sense.
“She’s young, so maybe she doesn’t know any better (but she should). She should also ask herself how she would feel if the showrunners gave an interview and talked about how difficult she was and refused to perform the material.”
He added, “This kind of statement is beyond entitled and toxic. I love her work, but life’s too short to deal with people like this in the business.”
This kind of statement is beyond entitled and toxic. I love her work, but life’s too short to deal with people like this in the business.— Steven DeKnight (@stevendeknight) March 7, 2023
It’s not as if she flung the script at the writers and barked at them to do better.
She actually sat with producers daily to have an intelligent dialogue about how they could improve the quality of the show and in a recent interview, the producers even admitted that they were all for it.
Producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar recently told Variety that they would happily meet with her each day to “cut dialogue” and “reduce it”.
The Netflix producers even described her as an “intuitive actor,” adding that “she just had the thing that Wednesday needed.”
They also discussed how Ortega was incredibly hardworking and did what she could to embody the character.
They went on to recount having many a conversation with her about how best to approach the character.
“She talked about her posture, and she talked about the not blinking. I think it’s a role you have to inhabit,” Gough pointed out.
“I don’t want to speak for Jenna, but I do think it’s a role that in a weird way becomes a little method, because you have to live in that space. And she’s in 95% of the show.”
Millar added, “It was a marathon for her. She was in virtually every scene, learning reams of dialogue every day. Archery, canoeing, sword fighting. It’s a lot of physicality as well as a lot of words to learn. The show looks very breezy, but it was a very challenging show to make.”
Instead of launching nasty criticisms at a hardworking WOC who has had to work harder than anyone else to break into the industry, how about Steven DeKnight instead award Jenna Ortega the same praise he’d probably give others for doing the same damn thing.
Wednesday Season One is now streaming on Netflix and Season Two is currently in the works, where I’m sure Jenna Ortega is working her butt off and not being “entitled” and “toxic”.
Scream 6, which also stars Ortega, is now in cinemas and it’s easily one of the best Scream films of all time.
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