Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Cast, Creative Talk Feminism, Identity; Tease Crossover with "Witchy Shows"

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With Netflix's supernatural horror series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina appearing set to conjure up some streaming spells this week, a certain Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) is running out of time to make a very important life choice – and we're not talking which college in the fall. Our half-witch, half-human hero is on the eve of her 16th birthday, when she's expected to renounce her human side and embrace her supernatural side. Except no one bothered to ask Sabrina what she wants – and she has a serious problem with that.

So with the Path of Night and the Path of Light vying to make her their own, Sabrina's gonna need a little help from her family and friends…and enemies…and "frenemies"…to do what's right. To discuss what exactly that might entail – and how Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a modern show for modern times – Shipka and the rest of the cast and creative sat down with Variety on Friday night at the Hollywood Athletic Club in Los Angeles for the first season premiere (where Ross Lynch (Harvey Kinkle) revealed they were currently filming the sixth episode of the second season).

Here are some of the highlights:

● Shipka is proud of how both her character and the series wear their feminism and fight for quality on their sleeves – whether in the real world or in the supernatural:

"This is totally the Sabrina for 2018, in so many ways. She's a woke witch. Her entire grappling with signing her name away in the Book of the Beast and questioning a lot of the more patriarchal elements of what she was raised to believe and to go into. I think that in and of itself is very feminist and she's a strong independent woman and she stands up for herself and she does what she thinks is right."

Lachlan Watson (Susie Putnam) is particularly proud of how the show demonstrates that anyone can be a feminist no matter how they identify. Like Watson themself, Susie is non-binary and it's their exeperiences with Baxter High bullies and Sabrina's other-worldly life that helps them embrace who they truly are:

"Susie provides a side of feminism that really represents that you really don't have to be female to be a feminist. It really encompasses all minorities and all misunderstood people, or gender inequality as a whole, I think. Throughout Susie's sort of queer journey — specifically a bit of a genderqueer journey — which really speaks to me, it's having that group of incredible feminists behind their back."

● While Shipka admitted that there won't be any actors from the original television series, she did let slip a tease that might start getting a lot more attention very soon: "There might be some other people from some witchy shows coming on." Are we thinking Charmed? The witches from American Horror Story: Coven? Henry Cavill's upcoming The Witcher? Hmmm…

● As for the commonly-asked question about a Riverdale crossover, series showrunner/executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa advsied fans to look for an "easter egg" in the seventh episode that he says "tips its hat to" the CW series and that "he would love for" there to be crossover.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina imagines the origin and adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch as a dark coming-of-age story that traffics in horror, the occult and, of course, witchcraft. Tonally in the vein of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, this adaptation finds Sabrina wrestling to reconcile her dual nature — half-witch, half-mortal — while standing against the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars Kiernan Shipka, Miranda Otto, Lucy Davis, Ross Lynch, Michelle Gomez, Chance Perdomo, Jaz Sinclair, Richard Coyle, Tati Gabrielle, Adeline Rudolph, Abigail Cowen, Lachlan Watson, Bronson Pinchot, and Gavin Leatherwood

Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who also serves as chief creative officer of Archie Comics, penned the script for the series. Aguirre-Sacasa executive produces alongside Riverdale collaborators Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater and Lee Toland Krieger. The drama hails from Warner Bros. Television-based Berlanti Productions.

Here's a roster rundown of Greendale's "whos' who" before the Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa/Greg Berlanti series premieres on Netflix on October 26th:

Sabrina Spellman (Shipka): An empowered young woman, half-human, half-witch, Sabrina is just beginning her dark education as a sorceress, even as she tries to maintain a normal life as a sophomore at Baxter High. Intelligent, compassionate and brave to the point of recklessness, Sabrina is all that stands between us and the forces of darkness that threaten our world.

Harvey Kinkle (Lynch) is Sabrina's boyfriend. The prince charming of this dark fairy tale, Harvey is the son of a coal miner, a dreamboat and a dreamer, completely unaware of the dark forces conspiring to keep him and Sabrina apart.

The Weird Sisters – Agatha (Adeline Rudolph), Prudence (Tati Gabrielle), and Dorcas (Abigail Cowen): are a trio of powerful, uncanny teenage witches at the Academy of Unseen Arts who look down their noses at Sabrina for being half-mortal.

Hilda Spellman (Lucy Davis) is one of Sabrina's two witch aunts. More nurturing than Zelda, Hilda's motherly nature and warm sense of humor belie a wicked, ghoulish streak. She is as adept at brewing spite jars against her family's enemies as she is at concocting love potions for the students at Baxter High.

Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle) is High Priest of the Church of Night and Dean of the Academy of the Unseen Arts. Ruthless and ambitious, Blackwood hides a terrifying dark agenda that will put him in direct conflict with Sabrina and other members of the coven.

Zelda Spellman (Miranda Otto) is Sabrina's sterner witch aunt. Proud and devout, Zelda believes there is no greater honor than serving the Dark Lord as a member of the Church of Night. She is the family's disciplinarian, fiercely protective of Sabrina, and very much Cain to Hilda's Abel.

Nicholas Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood) is a young, handsome warlock at the Academy of Unseen Arts who befriends new student Sabrina Spellman. An acolyte of Sabrina's father's teachings, Nicholas is drawn to Sabrina, as well, and there are immediate sparks between them.

Sabrina's friends Rosalind Walker (Jaz Sinclair) and Susie Putnam (Watson): Rosalind, the brash, empowered and outspoken daughter of Greendale's minister and Sabrina's best friend at Baxter High. Susie Putnam is one of Sabrina's friends at Baxter High and a founding member of the school's newly formed WICCA club. Brave and optimistic despite being bullied at school, Susie lives on a farm at the outskirts of town and deals with a terrifying supernatural threat at home.

Mary Wardwell / Madam Satan (Michelle Gomez) is Sabrina's favorite teacher and mentor at Baxter High. When she is possessed by the Devil's handmaiden, Madam Satan, Ms. Wardwell turns into a sultry, cunning manipulator, always trying to lure Sabrina down the Path of Night.

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Ambrose Spellman (Chance Perdomo) is Sabrina's warlock cousin from England. Placed under house-arrest by the Witches Council, Ambrose is forbidden from leaving the funeral home where he lives with the Spellman woman. Witty, puckish, and pan-sexual, he is one of Sabrina's partners in crime, always up for mischief.


About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought on board as staff in 2017.

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