Barry Sonnenfeld, director:
I’d been a successful cinematographer. I shot the first three Coen brothers movies, Big and When Harry Met Sally. I was in LA finishing up shooting Misery when producer Scott Rudin left me a script to read – The Addams Family. I’d grown up loving Charles Addams’ cartoons in the New Yorker. They were dark and funny. Scott said: “If I can convince Orion Studios to hire you would you be willing to direct it?” I said: “Sure.” You never actually think anything like that’s going to happen – but it did.
Scott and I both agreed on Anjelica Huston and Raúl Juliá as Morticia and Gomez. The studio wanted Cher but we felt that would unbalance the film – we didn’t want it to be about stars. Raúl was totally suited to play Gomez. I’ve never worked with anyone more in love with life. Anjelica looked very much the part for Morticia – tall, lithe, thin. You never want anyone in your comedy to acknowledge you’re making a comedy, you want the actors to play the reality of their characters, which is why Raúl and Anjelica were so good.
I loved Christina Ricci and knew she had it in the bag. We found our Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) when he came to the auditions with his sister who was trying out for Wednesday Addams. We spotted him in the waiting room. At the table read the character of Fester was revealed as an imposter and the cast was outraged. They all met and voted on making Christina – then 10 years old – their spokesperson. She explained to us why Fester had to be the real Fester throughout, and we had to figure out how to make it work. She was such a brilliant spokesperson that we rewrote 20 pages of the script.
It was the first movie I directed and a baptism of fire. The movie started at Orion, but they were going bankrupt so they sold it to Paramount. Their chairman was then fired and the new one was not a comedy guy. He said he hated the film and that it was uncuttable and unreleasable. We took $24m on the opening weekend – twice what had been predicted.
Anjelica Huston, actor:
Barry Sonnenfeld, Scott Rudin and I met for lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel. They said: “We’d really like you to play Morticia Addams.” I said: “If you don’t mind me asking, why not Cher?” I don’t know what possessed me to suggest another actress, but they said: “No, we’d like you to do it.” I had very much enjoyed working with Nicolas Roeg on The Witches a year earlier, even though it was difficult in terms of hair and makeup, and I didn’t feel like I needed to make another family-friendly film. But I’ve always had a bit of a dark side when it comes to movie choices – I make my decisions individually rather than because I think that’s the way my career should be going.