‘The Addams Family’: Anjelica Huston’s Cheekbones Were Stretched With Tape to Perfect Morticia’s Look
Is there anything more iconic than Morticia Addams in The Addams Family? Every iteration of Morticia has been darkly glamorous and played by an actor who made the role iconic in their own unique ways. In the 1990s, Anjelica Huston played this role, for the films The Addams Family and Addams Family Values. Today, her take on the character is still remembered fondly and frequently quoted and referenced, and it even earned her a few nominations for some major awards. In fact, her look as Morticia was so iconic that it seems almost beyond real — and in fact, certain tricks were used to make Morticia the glamorous dark matriarch we know her as. But what did Huston do to perfect her Morticia Addams?
How did Anjelica Huston play Morticia Addams?
In 1991, a film adaptation of the 1960s TV show The Addams Family came out to a significant amount of success. Ironically, Huston herself did not expect to be playing the role of Morticia; Cher had also expressed significant interest in the role, and it’s pretty easy to picture the Dark Lady as Morticia Addams. Nonetheless, the producers were already looking at Huston, who had recently earned an Academy Award nomination for her role in The Grifters. Huston, herself a fan of The Addams Family, accepted and gave an iconic performance.
Who is Morticia Addams?
Morticia Addams was originally played by Carolyn Jones on The Addams Family in the 1960s. Her look was glamorous and vampiric, and she’s meant to be a witch. She’s a dark version of the typical television matriarch: she cares about her home and appearance, but maintains a gothic aesthetic and cuts the heads off roses. Her relationship with Gomez is close and romantic, but with overt elements of sadomasochism.
Over the years, Morticia has been played by multiple actors. In the 1970s animated series, she was voiced by Janet Waldo, and in the ’90s revival of the animated series, the role went to Nancy Linari. In the film and show of the late ’90s, she was played by Daryl Hannah and Ellie Harvie respectively. Most recently, in the 2019 animated film version of The Addams Family, the voice role went to Charlize Theron. But Huston’s portrayal of Morticia Addams will go down in history.
What did Anjelica Huston do to bring Morticia Addams to life?
Huston’s acting chops are incredible, but a role like Morticia Addams requires some extra actions. Her makeup was intense — far more intense than the makeup on Carolyn Jones in the original, and she had to keep fake eyelashes and fake nails on. But on top of that, according to Vogue, the producers had Huston tape back her already defined cheekbones to make them look much more severe.
All these actions must have been uncomfortable to wear, and it shows Huston’s skill and consummate professionalism that she was able to give such a great performance with all these effects. It’s also important to know how these effects were created and to be aware that what we see on screen doesn’t reflect how people look in their day-to-day lives. These are important discussions to have that add new dimensions to both how we understand the beauty industry and the tricks that go into filmmaking. And above all, it helps us to really appreciate how great an actor Anjelica Huston is.