20 Spooky Secrets About The Addams Family Movies Revealed

The 1991 film and its 1993 sequel "Addams Family Values have endured as Halloween classics despite a problematic production shoot and casting changes

By Tierney Bricker Oct 18, 2019 7:00 PMTags

"They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're all together ooky..." 

Featuring standout performances from Raúl Juliá, Anjelica Huston, Christina Ricci and Christopher Lloyd, The Addams Family and Addams Family Values have lived on as enduring Halloween staples and Ricci's pitch-perfect take on young Wednesday Addams still serving as one of the spooky holiday's icons. 

Though it was based on morbidly funny and popular cartoon created by Charles Addams and the 1964 TV series, no one in Hollywood expected the first film to be a hit when it was released in 1991. Made for just $30 million in a long and difficult 20-week shoot, The Addams Family surprised everyone when it went on to gross $200 million. Two years later, its sequel, Addams Family Values, premiered and while it underperformed, making just under $50 million, its still beloved by viewers to this day. (Though the less said about the third film, 1998's straight-to-DVD Addams Family Reunion, featuring an almost entirely new cast, the better.)

20 Spooky Secrets About The Addams Family Movies Revealed

In honor of the Addams family's latest animated outing, The Addams Family (with voice-work from Charlize Theron, Oscar Isaac, Finn Wolfhard and Chloe Grace Moretz), we're looking back on 1991's The Addams Family and 1993's Addams Family Values and revealing some behind-the-scenes facts you might not know about the cult-classic movies that director Barry Sonnenfeld, writer Paul Rudnick and the stars have revealed over the years....

1. While talks of an Addams Family movie had been going on for decades, producer Scott Rudin really decided to take on the project are unexpectedly hearing the theme song from an unlikely source when a studio executive's son started singing it during a car ride "and suddenly everyone in the van was singing the theme, letter perfect, note for note," he told The Los Angeles Times. The next day, he went in to pitch the idea. 

2. In 1989, it was reported that Cher and Kevin Kline would star as Morticia and Gomez, with Ivan Reitman attached to direct. But then in 1990, Robin Williams and Huston's name were suggested. Ultimately, Julia landed the lead role of the Addams patriarch. "Raúl was totally suited to play Gomez," Sonnenfield told The Guardian. "I've never worked with anyone more in love with life."

3. For their Morticia, Huston was always No. 1 for the producers, with Rudin telling The Los Angeles Times, "We always wanted Anjelica. She's a hothouse flower, she's Mrs. Miniver in this movie, the mother hen of the family. She can be sweet and arch and then turn on a dime and be very passionate too."

Huston, however, was surprised to learn she was the top choice, believing Cher was the obvious actress to play the role, with Sonnenfield later admitting, "The studio wanted Cher but we felt that would unbalance the film...we didn't want it to be about stars."

4. Huston revealed her inspiration for her take on the role in an interview with The Guardian: "I based Morticia on Jerry Hall." To physically become the Addams Family matriarch, Huston sat for two hours of hair and makeup, including reshaping her eyes, as well as wearing a metal corset. "Come afternoon, I could be prone to a really good headache from my various bondages, and because I couldn't lie down (in the corset) or rest, it was fairly exhausting," she told EW

5.While she's gone on to have a long and successful career in Hollywood, Wednesday Addams, which she began playing at the age of 10, is still Ricci's defining role, and she's totally OK with that. 

"I feel very inextricably bound to her, because I feel, like, who can say how much influence being that person at that age for the amount of time that I was her, the amount of positive reinforcement from playing that character," she told The A.V. Club. "It's like a chicken-or-egg debate: Did I influence her as a character, or did she as a character influence my personality?"

6. In a 1991 interview on Live With Regis and Kathie Lee, Ricci revealed how she prepped for her audition: "My mom told me to just sort of think of Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice. They're similar characters, so then I auditioned and it worked for the audition." Ricci and Ryder had worked together the year prior on Mermaids and the two remained friends for years.

7. Before Christopher Lloyd landed the role of Uncle Fester, Sir Anthony Hopkins reportedly turned it down. And the fat suit Lloyd wore in the films actually had a previous owner: After wearing it in 1974 for The Godfather II, Bruno Kirby passed it along to the Back to the Future star. 

8. Growing up as a huge fan of the original cartoons, Lloyd was "astonished" to get the call about playing Uncle Fester, his "favorite" character. Still, Lloyd lived in fear that he would be fired in the early stages of production, telling Buzzfeed, "I really didn't feel like I was very convincing." And when he was called in for a meeting after filming a test scene in prosthetic make-up, he was sure he was about to be recast. Alas, they just had decided to just go with simple make-up. "They thought the prosthetics were limiting my facial expressions, so we chucked the prosthetics... and I was very, very relieved," he said. 

9. In the original script for the first film, Fester was actually an imposter and not the real Addams family member. But during the table read, the cast was "outraged" and decided 10-year-old Ricci should be the one to have the conversation with the creative team. "She explained to us why Fester had to be the real Fester throughout, and we had to figure out how to make it work," Rudin said. "She was such a brilliant spokesperson that we rewrote 20 pages of the script."

10. While most people believed Tim Burton, Terry Gilliam or David Lynch would direct the film, Sonnenfield, a cinematographer with no directing experience, landed the stressful job...and let the 25-week haul of a shoot get to him. "I lost 13 pounds in the first 10 weeks alone," he told Empire. "And the tension was just incredible." 

And three weeks into production, he fainted on set during a conversation about the budget, explaining, "I was standing behind a chair when I started to feel this tremendous pressure in my chest, as if someone was blowing up a balloon inside me. Before I knew what was happening, I got very dizzy and tried to sit down and - wham! - I'd passed out."

11. Likely not helping with his anxiety? Rubin playfully changing the name on the back of the director chair to a new name each time a reporter was on the set, often including directors who had been in talks to direct the film at one point. 

12. The sequel's title, Addams Family Values, was directly taken from a controversial speech made in 1992 by then-Vice Presidential candidate Dan Quayle, who said a breakdown of "family values" was to blame for the Los Angeles riots. 

13. All of the main Addams Family members returned for hte sequel, except for Judith Malina, who was replaced by Carol Kane as Grandmama due to the role becoming more physically demanding. Friends with Huston since they were teenagers, Kane is actually a year younger than her on-screen daughter. 

14. While Kathleen Turner was reportedly in talks to take on the role, Joan Cusack landed the part of Debbie Jellinski, the gold-digging con-woman villain of the sequel who steals many of the scenes she's in and even had the cast and crew cracking up with her work. 

"Joan Cusack is just bliss as Debbie. I was on set the day we were shooting that monologue and she's talking about Malibu Barbie. People were stuffing paper cups in their mouths to stop themselves from laughing because Joan was sublime," Rudnick told Buzzfeed. "Watching her is a gift."

15. Wednesday's kiss with fellow Camp Chippewa camper Joel, played by Dave Krumholtz, was the first on-screen kiss for both Ricci, then 13, and her 15-year-old onscreen love interest. 

"I was nervous about it. I hadn't kissed too many girls period...so it was one of my first kisses. If you look at it, it's like we touch lips. It's very, very innocent," Krumholtz reflected. "But I remember Christina complaining that I had peach fuzz on my upper-lip. She didn't like that. And that made me really self-conscious."

16. Baby Pubert, Gomez and Morticia's infant son in the sequel, was actually played by twin girls, Kaitlyn Hooper and Kristen Hooper. And the name Pubert was an homage to the original name Charles Addams had for Pugsley, which was then rejected by the producers of the '60s TV series. To get the twins to crawl in scenes, Cheerios were tied to strings, and their black hair was tinted slightly darker. Oh, and the mustache was, of course, drawn on. 

17. When it came to casting Pugsley, they actually found Jimmy Workman through his sister, who was auditioning for Wednesday Addams, and "we spotted him in the waiting room," Sonnenfield revealed. 

18. Michael Jackson wrote a song and filmed a music video for the sequel, called "Is It Scary," but after he was accused of allegedly sexually molesting a child in 1993 in addition ongoing contract disputes as Jackson already had a deal with Paramount, it was ultimately scrapped from the movie. 

"I think he completed the video for it, but it was just a little too risky to include it in the final movie at that point," Rudnick told Buzzfeed. "I think it involved him living in the Addams Family mansion and all of his neighbors storming the place with pitchforks and torches. So it was a little too close. (laughs) That's why it wasn't included."

19. The Cousin Itt wig worn by John Salapatek in both films weighed 35 pounds, though they lightened it for the sequel. "It was insane," Salapatek told Buzzfeed, adding he was nervous he was going to be replaced for the follow-up. "I only weigh a little over 100 myself. It was an endurance test being in the costume."

20. After being diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1991, Addams Family Values was one of the last projects Julia ever worked on, with the actor passing away less than one year after the film's release.

The Addams Family is in theaters now.