‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,’ the upcoming project from Netflix featuring the popular character from Archie Comics, hit an unexpected roadblock early on. Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa gave a recent interview about the show and explained that ‘Sabrina’ star Kiernan Shipka threw him for a particular loop. Aguirre-Sacasa said:
“I get a call that says, ‘Kiernan is allergic to the cat. It did go through my mind: Could Salem be a dog?”
The answer was no, Salem has to be a cat. However, another question arose which was, does Sabrina have to be a witch? Though the character has been around since the 70s, she is best known from the ‘Sabrina, the Teenage Witch’ sitcom from the 90s which starred Melissa Joan Hart as the title character. She relied on Salem, her talking cat, for guidance on navigating her powers, and her regular life. The new series will be less lighthearted and is loosely based on the 2014 comic of the same title written by Aguirre-Sacasa himself.
Lucy Davis, who plays Sabrina’s Aunt Hilda in the new adaptation, explains that this show will be like nothing that has been seen before, saying:
“We’re not remaking ‘Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.’ This is a different thing.”
“The idea was to do a dark horror version of ‘Sabrina,’ something that was more of a slow-burn horror, like ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and all those great satanic horror movies from the 1960s and 1970s.”
The series is set in the town of Greendale right before Sabrina’s 16th birthday, which is also the day Sabrina has to decide her future, choosing between a human life or a magical one. It is revealed that the choice could mean a loss of freedom for Sabrina. Shipka explained:
“There’s this minor little thing of signing your soul away that sounds a little intense to Sabrina.”
Shipka was Aguirre-Sacasa’s first choice to play the title role and is best known for playing Sally Draper on AMC’s ‘Mad Men.’ Now she’s playing a girl who has to decide whether she will pledge her allegiance to the Dark Lord, which is a must to become a full-fledged witch.
Of Shipka’s ability to carry the weight of the role, Aguirre-Sacasa said:
“Sabrina has to stand up to the devil and these very formidable opponents, and someone like Kiernan has the gravitas and assuredness to do that.”
“She’s this young, really badass, outspoken girl who is still individuating herself and figuring out love, as well as honing in on her power and struggling between these two completely separate worlds.”
One of these worlds of course being at home with her aunts Zelda (Miranda Otto) and Hilda, with whom she lives, and the other is home to her boyfriend, Harvey (Ross Lynch), and her school friends. Otto explained:
“The show melds a whole lot of different tones because there’s a sweet, lighter tone of the high school and the romance between Sabrina and Harvey, and then you’ve got the darker tone of the Spellman house and everything that goes on in there.”
Aguirre-Sacasa refers to each episode as its own mini-movie, and explains that they all fit into a bigger picture, saying:
“[The season is] following her dark education. It’s all part of a bigger arc, which is her trying to hold on to her humanity as her witch nature is developed.”
And the fact that Shipka is allergic to her side-kick? Well, they’ve just agreed to not get too close. She joked:
“We keep at a safe distance. It’s like, ‘Actors That Didn’t Get Along in Shows: Kiernan and the Cat Hated Each Other.’”
‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ will hit Netflix just in time for Halloween, on October 26.