How a Romanian Magician Turned Thing From “Wednesday” Into an Emotional Hero and Made the Hand the Star of the Show

In November 2022, Netflix released Wednesday, the story of the wonderful and gruesome daughter of the Addams family. The series instantly won over millions of viewers and even set a new record for most hours viewed. And, in addition to the main character, Thing — a disembodied and highly emotional hand — got its own crowd of fans. And when it was revealed that it was played by a real person, there was an immediate question: How was that even possible?

© Image Press Agency / Alamy Stock Photo, LISA O'CONNOR / AFP / East News

For the fans of The Addams Family, the role of Thing was nothing new — he was in the series from the 1960s, as well as the films in the 1990s. However, it was in Wednesday that this seemingly minor character became a real crowd favorite. The Romanian magician Victor Dorobantu didn’t just breathe life into the hand, he gave a real, emotional performance. And once the behind-the-scenes photos of the filming process got released on the Internet, fans became obsessed — everyone wanted to know exactly how this cinematic feat was achieved.

“Everybody wants to know how Thing was done behind the scenes. Everybody wants to know how the VFX works. A lot of people are asking me, ‘Are you real?’”

Victor himself could never have imagined that he would be involved in such a large-scale project under the direction of the legendary Tim Burton. The magician was noticed on a TV show, given a call, and he simply hung up. Victor was convinced that it was either a joke, or a prank, or even a scam; in short, anything but the truth. The producers kept calling again and again and again until finally, they convinced Victor to come to the casting.

But even there the magician was sure that nothing would happen, the competition seemed too strong. However, despite the seemingly surreal unfolding of events, he was the one to be chosen.

Needless to say, the task of portraying the full range of human emotion with one hand is not an easy one. So Victor enlisted the help of Christopher Hart, the magician who played Thing in the films of the 1990s. From him, Victor found out the path he would have to take — to channel his entire consciousness into one part of himself as if erasing the rest of his body.

“It’s gonna sound strange but part of me feels like my hand is an actor and it’s just a different role. It’s almost like there are different Batmans.”

Of course, a certain amount of physical training was also required. The magician’s trained hands, which are accustomed to performing many monotonous movements, were, as Victor confessed, a great help for the role. As well as the fact that he plays the guitar and, thus, also constantly trains his fingers.

However, he still had to create a new and unique way for just one hand to communicate with the whole world.

A lot of very different information was used to create Thing’s language, from sign language to the signs used by scuba divers. It was all blended together and resulted in only half of the method that Thing used to communicate with the world around him. The other half was pure improvisation, with Victor simply responding sincerely to Wednesday’s remarks, all the while trying to disconnect from his body.

Of course, the filming itself was also a real challenge. He had to always wear a blue ninja suit that even covered his face. On top of that, this not-exactly-small, 6′ 3’’ man, had to literally hide in the strangest and most uncomfortable places, so that later he wouldn’t have to keep getting cut out of the frame.

“They just made a hole under the bed for my body and my hand was sticking through the mattress and my head was like turned looking at the small monitor under there. It was very hard to breathe and keep it going and my hand was going numb.”

However, according to Victor, no physical challenge could get in his way. The magician would simply remember where he was and what he was doing, and everything else suddenly faded into the background.

Victor really did the nearly impossible — he turned a frightening character into an emotional one, and even a passionate one, who is so much like a real person. A kind person. Yes, Victor insists that Thing is not a pet but a real hero.

“I see Thing like the hero. He’s trying to save everybody. He’s trying to love everybody. He’s trying to do whatever he can to help.”

“Tim Burton, you changed my life forever. Thank you for this opportunity.”

Perhaps, Victor has his own special connection with Thing. A few years ago, he got a tattoo of this character. Back then, he couldn’t have even imagined that he would literally become Thing.

And there is no doubt that Thing will continue to hypnotize viewers on-screen. All that remains is to wait for the second season to be released.

Have you seen Wednesday? Did you know that Thing was played by a real person?

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