For W’s annual The Originals portfolio, we asked creatives—pioneers in the fields of art, design, fashion, comedy, activism, and more—to share their insights on staying true to themselves. See this year’s full class of creatives here.
Your career began in the 1990s, when you were just 8 years old. In the decades since, you’ve played a variety of roles that have an undercurrent of darkness—for example, Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family, Elizabeth Wurtzel in Prozac Nation, Wendy Hood in The Ice Storm, and Misty Quigley in Yellowjackets. What makes you want to say yes to a role when it comes your way?
I always look for something that I haven’t seen before—that feels new and will be challenging because I don’t have an easy reference for it.
There’s been a renewed interest in your career because of Yellowjackets. What were you most excited to do with your character, Misty?
She’s a really, really passive-aggressive character, and I’ve always wanted to play passive-aggression as a very valid form of rage. When I saw this character openly written that way, I was really excited. It’s a legitimate side of being a woman, the way that physiology forces you sometimes, depending on who you are, to not directly and openly express anger. I am five feet two. I have never in my life been openly hostile with a stranger. It’s just not safe. I would imagine that if I weren’t playing this part and I saw this, I would connect to that.
Wednesday Addams, the character you played from the age of 11 to 13, is quite dark too. What do you remember about that experience?
I loved playing Wednesday because nobody ever told me to smile bigger, or to do it again but with more enthusiasm. I never had to pretend in the way that I had to at other times when I was a child. The thing about Wednesday that people love so much is that she is someone who is completely allowed by her family to be 100 percent herself. To play somebody who doesn’t have to please others felt great.
You’re currently working with Tim Burton on an Addams Family spin-off series called Wednesday.
I know it might sound stupid, but I was really touched to be asked to be involved in it. The worlds that Tim creates are so beautiful and grandiose and amazing. It also didn’t really feel like I was revisiting the Addams Family world that I was originally a part of—this is a brand-new version of it. So, in many ways it didn’t feel like something familiar, and that’s great too.
What advice do you wish you could give your younger self?
To lean into what was different about me instead of trying to change so much.
Who are your style icons?
Diana Vreeland, Nicole Kidman, and Tilda Swinton. My dream look is somewhere right in the middle of that triangle. I don’t feel like I can accurately describe my own style, but I can tell you what I’m always going for: I want my clothes to make me seem unapproachable. My clothes should be like an emotional armor that keeps people at a safe distance. I dress for coldness and frigidity.
If you could invite anyone, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would you ask?
Tilda Swinton, Jeremy O. Harris, and David Lynch.
Yellowjackets leans heavily on ’90s nostalgia. Are you nostalgic for that era?
I don’t think so. Thinking about my 20s, I’d like to go back and do it again so I could do it better. I see this a lot when I see young people now. You just have this sense that there’s always something wrong, there’s always drama and always struggling—at least that’s how I was. I’m just happy to not feel like that.
Is there another ’90s icon you’d like to see join the Yellowjackets cast?
They should try to get Natasha Lyonne. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Natasha and Juliette Lewis in scenes together would be really incredible.
Hair by Mark Hampton for Leonor Greyl Hair Care at Julian Watson Agency; makeup by Allan Avendano for Lancôme at A-Frame Agency; photography Assistants: Annabel Snoxall, Ross Fraser; fashion Assistant: Naomi Detre; makeup Assistant: Ruby Vo.