Director Tim Burton had crush on Wednesday Addams, now helms The Addams Family spin-off series

Jenna Ortega plays Wednesday in the series directed by Tim Burton. PHOTO: NETFLIX

Los Angeles – Director Tim Burton has never quite felt like he fits in – even when he has been the toast of Hollywood.

And perhaps that is why the American film-maker’s offbeat gothic fantasies are often about outsiders, from fantasy fable Edward Scissorhands (1990) and horror comedy Beetlejuice (1988) to action adventures such as Batman (1989) and Alice In Wonderland (2010).

Burton has now turned his hand to another such tale, Wednesday, a television series that continues The Addams Family horror franchise.

The series, which debuted on Netflix on Wednesday, it revolves around a teenage Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) – daughter of Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Gomez (Luis Guzman) – who does not fit in at a school for outcasts.

Burton, who directed, produced and co-created the series, has been drawn to the character since he first laid eyes on her in the 1960s TV show that made the Addamses a household name well before the two popular 1990s films, The Addams Family and Addams Family Values.

“When I first saw the TV show as a young kid, I had a crush on her,” Burton tells The Straits Times in a video chat.

“She was my type of person,” adds the 64-year-old of the fiercely independent Wednesday, who does not suffer fools.

“I like her directness – she does feel separate from everybody. And she sees things from her very clear, black-and-white point of view, which is kind of an artist’s point of view, so that spoke to me,” says Burton, who earned Oscar nominations for the animated horror comedies Corpse Bride (2006) and Frankenweenie (2013).

The new show also took him back to his own teenage years growing up in a suburb of Los Angeles.

“All of a sudden, I flashed back to thinking about things such as school, teachers, the prom and my parents. You always have this weird relationship with your parents – or at least I did, and a lot of people do when you’re that age,” says Burton, who has two children aged 14 and 19 with his former partner, English actress Helena Bonham Carter, 56.

“They just seem really weird and embarrassing and strange, and that’s perfect for The Addams Family. Can you imagine Morticia and Gomez as your parents?”

Jenna Ortega plays Wednesday in the series directed by Tim Burton. PHOTO: NETFLIX

Asked if he continued to feel like an outsider when he began working in Hollywood, Burton says: “I felt that way from the very beginning. And I always felt that way, even when I had some success.

“There’s still an uneasiness, and I think once you feel that way, you always feel that way. Whether I like it or not, it’s there. It stays.”

Being an outsider can also fuel creativity, of course, and Burton admits that it can be harder to draw on that energy when his projects do well.

That said, some of his favourites “were my least successful movies, and some of the others were my biggest”, he adds.

Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jenna Ortega and Tim Burton on the set of Wednesday. PHOTO: NETFLIX

Burton does not elaborate on which titles he means, but among his box-office bombs were two acclaimed biographies of American artists, the Oscar-winning Ed Wood (1994), starring frequent collaborator Johnny Depp and now considered a cult classic; and 2014’s Big Eyes.

“I think this world has a way of balancing itself out, in a way – whether it is critically bad or critically great; financially bad or successful; or bad on all counts, but certain people love it. It’s a mixed bag of emotions when you make something, so I feel quite lucky to be balanced out in that way, to some degree,” he says.

At Wednesday’s school – an academy for the supernaturally-gifted where students include werewolves and sirens – to be normal is undesirable, and “normie” is an insult.

Director Tim Burton had a crush on the character Wednesday Addams as a young kid. PHOTO: AFP

Burton does not wield it as such, but, he admits, “the word has always freaked me out”.

“Because I always had the opposite view of what ‘normal’ is.”

But in Wednesday’s case, that turns out to be an asset – and it undoubtedly has with Burton as well.

“She’s an outcast among outcasts, and if you put her in any scenario, she will be different from everybody. That’s just who she is,” he says.

Wednesday is streaming on Netflix.

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