Jenna Ortega has had quite the career trajectory. Today, she is the undisputed queen of screams, having starred in some of the best horror films of recent years. Here the Wednesday actor discusses the celebrated horror film that left her shaking with fear.
Ortega has always been open about her dark side. Speaking to Rotten Tomatoes about her many horror projects, she said: “Yeah, I think I’ve always kind of been internally drawn to that stuff, so it’s nice that my work is able to reflect that…In terms of dark stuff, I think that even my humour tends to be a little bit more dark. I’m doing Wednesday and I’ve been compared to Wednesday all my life in terms of my sarcasm and dry humour, so it’s oddly fitting.”
After starring in several Disney productions and Netflix sitcoms, she landed a role as Phoebe in the 2013 horror sequel Insidious: Chapter 2, setting her up for her work in fear fests like The Babysitter: Killer Queen, Scream and X. Interestingly, however, the film that left Ortega genuinely shell-shocked wasn’t a horror but a teen drama. “Everyone show works on horror sets loves horror,” she told Fallon.”That cast and crew, they’re my family, and we can never take anything seriously. So Ghostface could literally be in the middle of their monologue, and we’re having to restart takes because we’re laughing so hard.”
Ortega’s experience of working on The Fallout, which focuses on a school shooting, was much more emotionally draining. “If you are doing something a bit more grounded or more realistic or even something that you relate to, I think that it’s harder to decompress from those,” she told Rotten Tomatoes. “You don’t realize that it’s sitting with you as much as it is. Like, after a couple of weeks you realize, “Man, for some reason I’m really down and I don’t know why” — probably it’s the environment you’ve been putting yourself into every day. But for the most part I’m able to detach myself from work.”
Ortega continued: “The worst thing about The Fallout is that it’s work — you wrap, you go home, you do whatever, you go to bed. But that’s not the case for people like my character. What she’s gone through is not something that you can just sleep off or take a break from over the weekend. I think that’s the worst part. That project in particular, I don’t think that will ever leave me. I still think about it consistently. So I can’t even imagine what actual survivors must feel.”
However, there was one horror film that really did make an impact on Ortega, perhaps because she wasn’t working on it. Naming 2010’s Insidious as one of her favourite horrors, she said: “Insidious was” one of the first horror films that I really saw and it… There are some shots in that film that stay with me, where I feel like I can still see the red-faced demon guy wherever I go. James Wan obviously knows what he’s doing in the horror department, but watching that as a 12-year-old was traumatizing. I have a lot of admiration for that one.”