On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of The Addams family, director Barry Sonnenfeld reflected on his experience making the original live-action film. In 1991, Sonnenfeld took on the original live-action film as its first director, and its success made it a Hollywood name. He was at the helm of the sequel Addams Family Values along with titles Get Shorty, Wild Wild West, and the first three Men in black movies.
In a new Variety interview, Barry Sonnenfeld notes that the behind-the-scenes project was not so much fun. Paramount president Stanley Jaffe had told the director that the film was “unreleasable” after seeing ten minutes of footage, and the cost was so low that there weren’t even bottles of water on set. The good news is that the other Paramount executives were on board, even if Jaffe wasn’t.
Another advantage of the production is that Sonnenfeld was given a bit more freedom than most budding directors who worked for a major studio when it came to casting. Early on in production, when the film was in development at Orion Pictures before being sold to Paramount, studio heads insisted that Cher play Morticia. However, Sonnenfeld stayed with Anjelica Huston and threw her alongside Raul Julia as Gomez for much the same reason.
“I felt that the IP, Charles Addams’ drawings, was going to be our selling point. For a while Orion really wanted Cher to play Morticia. I don’t remember who they wanted for Gomez. But I felt we really had two really good actors Both Gomez and Raul had a real love for life and nothing could make them sad. And Anjelica was perfect for that role. Because it was Orion, they let us make those choices.”
While Raul Julie and Anjelica Huston are indeed perfect for those roles, most importantly the two had great chemistry together. It was actually their romance that drew Sonnenfeld to the project in the first place. He also likes the movie’s “pro-family” message, insisting that the family is very functional, even if they are a little eccentric. As Sonnenfeld puts it:
“One of the things I love about this movie is how romantic it is. It’s also very pro-family. Any reviewer would write, ‘It’s the most dysfunctional family.’ No, actually not. It’s a very functional family. The parents love their kids. The kids love their parents. The parents leave the kids alone so they can grow and learn.”
In the interview, Barry Sonnenfeld also seems to quell rumors that Kim Basinger and Anthony Hopkins also had an eye for the roles of Morticia and Uncle Fester, respectively. Sonnenfeld is unaware of that happening, and he was aboard the project before it even got the green light. He does reveal that Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam both turned down directing the film before the offer went to him.
Commemorating the film’s 30th anniversary, The Addams family gets a new release on 4K UHD. It includes extended footage and is labeled “more mamushka” due to the longer dance scene with Raul Julia and Christopher Lloyd. You can read the full interview on Variety.
Topics: The Addams Family