Ignore the Memes: Yes, Jenna Ortega Had COVID When She Filmed the Viral ‘Wednesday’ Dance Scene

Jenna-Ortega-Wednesday - Credit: Courtesy of Netflix
Jenna-Ortega-Wednesday - Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Following the release of Netflix’s original Addams family-based series Wednesday, the internet has started its usual and time-honored tradition of heralding a new it-girl: 20-year-old actress Jenna Ortega. And what’s the best way to celebrate a beloved internet personality? With a meme, of course. Fans have been using the phrase “Jenna Ortega reveals” to push funny but decidedly false “facts” about the Fallout and X actress. But the meme is burying some of the most interesting (and real) information about filming Wednesday — Ortega had COVID during her now famous goth prom scene.

Following Wednesday‘s November 23 debut, the series’ breakout prom scene, a goth dance to the Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck,” went viral on TikTok after Ortega revealed to an interviewer that she had choreographed the jig herself. Since Dec 1, thousands of users have recreated the dance to a sped-up version of Lady Gaga’s Bloody Mary — leading to a 9,500 percent and 1,800 percent increase in streams for the songs, respectively, according to Variety. Various publications have also been pushing their interviews and articles about Ortega and the Wednesday cast, inundating social media with quotes, photos, and revelations about Ortega’s acting process and inspiration. Not to be outdone, fans decided it was their turn to get in on the fun — using the ever-growing meme to promote their favorite artists, shows, and *checks notes* programming language. Before the meme went mainstream, news about Ortega was rampant enough that one fake tweet even convinced Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson.

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The meme follows a similar vibe to an earlier (and much smaller) iteration involving Squid Game actress Hoyeon Jung, which got popular in October 2021. The “facts” people claim Ortega is revealing on her press run are pretty tongue-in-cheek and fairly easy to fact-check. But the sheer magnitude of the meme might be suppressing some actually interesting revelations about the filming of Wednesday.

In an interview with NME, Ortega said she had COVID when she filmed the now iconic dance scene.

“I’m not a dancer, and I’m sure that’s obvious. I’d gotten the song about a week before, and I just pulled from whatever I could… it’s crazy because it was my first day with COVID, so it was awful to film,” she told NME. “Yeah, I woke up and – it’s weird, I never get sick, and when I do, it’s not very bad. I had the body aches. I felt like I’d been hit by a car and that a little goblin had been let loose in my throat and was scratching the walls of my esophagus. They were giving me medicine between takes because we were waiting on the positive result.”

According to NME, a contact with the Wednesday production company MGM confirmed that Ortega had COVID but had been removed from the set as soon as her test result came back positive.

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Some concerned readers have called the production irresponsible for allowing Ortega to film while she had symptoms. But dancing around people with an infectious disease does sound very much like something Wednesday Addams would do. Maybe Ortega was just committed to staying in character?

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