For Co-Directors Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan, one of the keys to making a fresh Addams Family film was to go back to the main source: Charles Addams’ creepy, spooky, and altogether kooky New Yorker comics. Starting in the 1930s, his shadowy line drawings delivered a subversive pleasure: dark themes, genius chiaroscuro, and zippy one-liners.
The approach was unique, for sure — there have been two short-lived animated TV series but never an animated feature film. But what do you do when you’ve got an established property that people know and love that has been turned into live action movies and a TV show and even a Broadway musical?
“There’s a nostalgia factor, but it’s not a reboot,” says producer Gail Berman. “I saw it as another way into this world of the Addams family.”
“We went back to the original cartoons to start at the beginning, when he first came up with these characters,” says Vernon. “In every iteration, the Addams were already this congealed family unit. We wanted to actually start them in different places and see how they came to be.”
Tiernan agrees: “Nobody ever really went into, how did Gomez and Morticia meet and how did they end up in the house? An origin story. And that immediately set it apart from other Addams material that had come before. It just started to come alive as soon as that was introduced.”
Added to the brilliant idea to make this an animated film, the team had all the necessary ingredients to breathe new life into this beloved family. “With animation right now, you have more of a believable way to tell stories about things that aren’t necessarily in our world,” says Vernon. “For The Addams Family we started creating moving trees and talking envelopes and at one point, we had tables moving around and shrunken heads that jump up and down and sing. We took all these things the TV show and the live-action movie talked about — you know, that were just kind of like a verbal joke — and we actually brought them in visually and let people see this world. At the time, it probably was too complicated to actually show. With animation, you can show pretty much anything you want.”
“Of course, any filmmaker has to direct people’s attention where they feel they want to direct it to
tell the story,” says Tiernan. But medium aside, ultimately, a great story is a great story. “I don’t
think there’s any difference between telling a story in a live-action film and a story in an animated
film,” says Vernon. “But the story itself,” says Tiernan. “like any good story, has got to have heart,
it’s got to have something that people can connect to. And this one definitely does.”
A hilarious and endearing tale, The Addams Family brings Charles Addams’ New Yorker cartoons to life and will inspire people of all ages to embrace a new idea of what is normal. In theaters October 11th.