Netflix drama as Wednesday season 2 cast member quits series before completing role

Netflix series Wednesday has been hit with an obstacle after losing one of its main cast members.

The series, an Addams Family spin-off centred on the character made famous by Christina Ricci, became one of the streaming service’s most successful titles after being released in November 2021.

A second seasons was swiftly commissioned, with Jenna Ortega returning as the psychic teenager during her years at Nevermore Academy. Production was well underway in Romania when the Hollywood strikes began, meaning filming was immediately shut down.

With the strike still rolling on five months later, Wednesday has now been hit with a blow following the news that Thora Birch, who joined the show in a regular role, has had to quit without completing her scenes.

A representative for MGM, who produces the series, told Deadline: “Thora has returned to the States to attend to a personal matter and will not be returning to the production.”

According to sources who spoke to the outlet, Ghost World actor Birch has had to go home to deal with an illness in the family. It’s also reported that, while Birch didn’t complete her scenes, she had “finished filming the bulk” of the role. In season two, Birch will play Wednesday’s dorm mother Tamara Novak.

However, this does not necessarily mean Birch’s work will be seen in the show. It’s currently not known whether Birch will be recast with her scenes reshot, but it’s been reported that producers will need to add a new character to conclude the character’s storyline.

The Independent has contacted Birch for comment.

Returning for season two, alongside Ortega, are Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán, who play Morticia and Gomez Addams, respectively.

After just one week of release, Wednesday, which was developed by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, was streamed for a total of 341.2 million hours, beating a record held by Stranger Things.

Netflix series ‘Wednesday’ starring Jenna Ortega (Netflix)
Netflix series ‘Wednesday’ starring Jenna Ortega (Netflix)

In an article about the show’s success, The Independent said that, despite Ortega’s strong lead performance, “it can’t escape certain trappings, namely the fact that it’s essentially Gen-Z Addams Family by way of Riverdale”.

Ortega’s previous credits include Ti West horrror X, the fifth and sixth Scream films and the forthcoming Beetlejuice 2, which, before the strikes, reunited her with Wednesday producer Tim Burton.

Also starring in Beetlejuice 2, a sequel to Burton’s 1988 horror comedy, is original stars Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder and Catherine O’Hara. The film’s release date is set for 6 September 2024.

Wednesday season two is expected to be released late 2024.