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The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: New York Comic Con 2018 Interview

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a supernatural drama series based on the comic books of the same name.  It was developed by Warner Bros. Television and will stream on Netflix on October 26, 2018.  The television series was created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who also worked on Glee and Riverdale.  It stars Kiernan Shipka as the title charcter, Sabrina Spellman, a half-human witch who must decide if she will join the supernatural world of stay in the mundane one.  Lucy Davis and Miranda Otto play Sabrina’s witch aunts Hilda and Zelda Spellman.  Michelle Gomez plays Sabrina’s favorite teacher Mary Wardell, who is later possessed and becomes Madam Satan.  Chance Perdomo plays Ambrose Spellman, Sabrina's friend and pansexual witch cousin from England.  Ross Lynch plays Harvey Kinkle, Sabrina’s mundane boyfriend unaware of the supernatural world.

Screen Rant: I'm really excited about this show mainly because a lot of fans out there, especially into comics, knew Sabrina from the comics originally and now we're going back to that. Instead of the early 90's when we had that show. Talk to me about the changes that we are going to see on this Netflix version.

Kiernan Shipka: Yeah this show is way dark and way fun at the same time. And if people are fans of the more recent Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comics, they are going to kind of get the vibe and tone a little more. But at the same it takes a darkness of the most recent iteration of the comics and it blends it with so much funny at the same time and it just makes for such a wild ride because it just like an onion peel of different sort of tones and layers and it just all works at the end of the day.

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SR: So why don't you guys chat me up on each character you play and how and what part she plays in Sabrina's life...

Lucy Davis: I play Hilda... I love my Sabrina. And I'm nurturing and motherly, but still I kind of enjoy her rebellious side and I'm not quite as...I'm slightly...not as much encouraging her to not do the things that she's meant to be doing according to the Dark Lord, but at the same time, I'm not forcing her to do anything either. I've got a little bit of a foot in the mortal world as well as the witch world.

Miranda Otto: I'm playing the other aunt, Aunt Zelda. And she's more kind of strict and domineering and very determined that Sabrina will become a fully fledged witch and sign her name in the Book of the Beast. I can be a bit of a beast sometimes.

Michelle Gomez: Yes. I am her favorite teacher and mentor and then I get possessed. My body gets possessed...by the devil's handmaiden and I become Madam Satan. I'm tots fab. #Totsfab... What else can I say about her. Oh yeah! She's basically like the worst best friend you could ever hope to have from Hell, but you just can't help but love her.

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SR: You're also my favorite master on Doctor Who. Just gotta give that shout out there.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: I'm Roberto. I'm the voice of Salem. And Salem is Sabrina's loyal familiar. Um, he's very talkative. He has a lot to say. He has an opinion about everything. He likes to get into it with Sabrina. He loves mice. No...I'm the showrunner and the creator. And I'm fans of everyone here and Sabrina's always been kind of one of my favorite characters. And I thought it was just hilarious that there was a witch who used to go to Riverdale High. And be good at high school and cause trouble at high school. So it has been a long time dream to kind of bring this to life in a horror way which is another one of my passions.

Chance Perdomo: My name's Chance Perdomo and I'm playing Ambrose Spellman. Ambrose is the Victorian era...well he's the Alfred to Sabrina's Batman. He's a cousin, confidant, he's a bit of a puckish rogue, or quite a lot, so much so that he's under house arrest for the last 75 years. Whenever Sabrina gets in trouble, he's the man she goes to. He's quite mysterious and I will leave it at that.

SR: Love it.

Ross Lynch: I play Harvey Kinkle. Who is Sabrina Spellman's notorious boyfriend, I guess you can say throughout the history of Sabrina he's always been there. So yeah, that's me.

SR: Nice. Roberto, can you talk to me about how Riverdale opened the doors to Sabrina, but also making sure that you were going to take this back to the basics of what it was originally?

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: Yeah. I think Riverdale  reminded everyone or showed people that...I mean I always loved the Archie character. They never fell out of favor for me. I always thought they were relevant. But I think it showed people that you could take a strong genre and put it on the Archie characters who are archetypes that we all know. And because they were archetypes they thrived when we put them in darker situations. They thrived when we put them in a murder mystery. It revealed the characters in a way that they haven't been seen before...So we sure enough, like everyone says 'okay what's next?' The most well known character in the Archie comics was Sabrina, because of the TV show was a hit for 8 or 9 years. That's how most people know Sabrina, is the comedy. But the earliest Sabrina comics that came out in the 60's were quite wicked and Sabrina was vampy. And she was sent by this sort of dominatrix which she said 'okay you've been assigned to Baxter High. You are going to go to Baxter High and you're just going to cause trouble.' And Sabrina would go to Baxter High and she liked the kids at Baxter High, so she wouldn't cause trouble and she'd come back and they would say, 'You are a terrible witch. You didn't do anything bad today.' So the idea of capturing a more wicked tone was something that appealed. You know horror is huge.

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SR: Especially now.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa : And it felt like a natural kind of fit.

SR: Now you gotta talk to me about the responsibility of playing Sabrina for a lot of kids...or I guess a lot of people my age out there. It's a pretty iconic role and it was part of that whole TGIF package that we got. What did you learn from watching that, kind of informed your performance on this show even though I know it's a different show. But there's some elements that carry over like some of the comedy aspects are carrying over a little bit.

Kiernan Shipka : I've never seen the original show before. It was a little before my time.

SR: You made me feel really old now.

Roberto: Join the club!

Kiernan Shipka: No, no, no. Just a little bit before my time. And I...when I got this I dove headfirst into the Chilling Adventures comics before I even auditioned. To get sort of a sense of the tone of what the show was going to be and the casting process happened quite quickly and by the time I got it I had about three months to prepare and sort of find the voice of the role. By myself, with a coach, working on the script maybe about three or four times a week. And at that rate I was so in it from that perspective that I didn't want to go to any other sort of source material just because I felt like the world and the character of Sabrina that we are developing as much as it is an archetype, it's its own character. She's her own girl.

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SR: Congratulations to everybody because these were obviously all very highly coveted roles and people all around Hollywood wanted them...So congratulations to all you guys for that. Can you talk to me about being on Netflix, because I have had a lot of people in here today that talk about how great Netflix is and how much freedom you kind of get with it. Can you guys talk to me about how the process is kind of working with Netflix? I mean I don't know if you guys would see a difference as actors...

Michelle Gomez: Yeah. It's definitely lovely to be in something where you don't have to pander to your audience. You know you don't have to patronize them. You know they're going to catch up and keep up. Really, it's what we expect of them and I think that now that we have such a sophisticated audience out there. It's hard to kind of sugar coat things and we're making horror, you know? You can't sugar coat that, you know? And actually the big surprise to all of us when we first saw the screening was how terrifying it is, in places. In many places. And Netflix I think gives us a platform where we don't have to compromise. Right? We get to make the show that we want to make and audiences want that. And there's clearly an appetite for it. So let's not put things through a rose-tinted filter. Let's not solve all of the problems. You know? Put it in its little box. Every characters flawed and three-dimensional and extremely well-drawn and so you are in a very rich, diverse, incredible world. That's full of fantasy, horror, and strangely hopeful. I mean to make horror hopeful...feels like what we've done her. So, it's yeah. I think that what's Netflix has given us the chance to find a new voice and a new world.

Kiernan Shipka: And each episode feels like a movie. I mean it really does.

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SR: A more cinematic tone to it...

Kiernan Shipka: A very cinematic tone and each episode is upwards of an hour, which is amazing to kind of have that sort of time and freedom and that luxury. To sort of take risks, play around...

Miranda Otto: And we don't have to play to the structure of playing to the ad breaks too, which is so nice. Like, I just find that so debilitating on other shows where you can tell everything is going in these humps to the ads. And watching shows when there's ads...it's so tedious.

SR: That's a great point actually which a lot people kind of overlook as consumers.

Miranda Otto: Dramatically you can just run straight it. You can tell your stories you want to tell it. You are not having to observe these false stops.

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SR: Absolutely. Now I'm sure that you guys are pretty familiar with all of your cast member's characters. So let's play a fun little game. If you weren't the character that you got cast as, who would you be based on your personality.

Miranda Otto: Salem the cat. Then I wouldn't have to say anything! [Laughs] Wouldn't have to learn any line, I would just have to show up!

Lucy Davis: Based on our character? My character who is Lucy...?

SR: No, who would you think you are most like?

Lucy Davis: Hilda honestly! I mean I'm almost embarrassed by it. I'm so Hilda! I think Madam Satan would be a great, fun role to play.

Michelle Gomez: Madam Satan has been a stretch for me to play. To be honest...

Kiernan Shipka: She says that...

Michelle Gomez: It's been a real challenge...No listen, come on. I mean we were all cast for a reason because we comfortably sit in those places. And you know, we aren't ashamed of it.

Miranda Otto: No the question is who do you want to Freaky Friday switch with?

SR: Maybe I should of said who do you want to Freaky Friday?

Lucy Davis: I think I said it to Roberto one day. Hilda and Zelda should wake up and be in each other's bodies.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: Oh yeah! That's a great story!

Kiernan Shipka: I want to be Nicholas Scratch. I want to be Nicholas Scratch for sure!

Lucy Davis: Everyone should swap!

SR: We just confirmed a spoiler for season 2 now right? Roberto I have to ask and I'm sure this is a question that you get asked a ton of times. The crossover with Riverdale is inevitable I'm assuming. I haven't seen it. So are we going to see that anywhere in the near future?

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: I grew up reading comic books and I loved when there were crossovers. I'm a big, big fan of them. You know it's always a question of finding the right story and making sure that you don't puncture the tone of every other show... On Riverdale they are like 'we can't crossover because we don't have supernatural stuff on Riverdale.' And that's true... But I always say that the Riverdale kids on a dare could like break into the haunted house in Greendale and it's ya know the Spellman house on Halloween. It's about finding the right story and the right time. I think right now the big priority is launching Sabrina as its own thing and making sure that Riverdale as gonzo as it's ever been. But yeah as a fan and that's what I am when it comes to these two shows really. I'm a fan of these characters. I'd love for there to be a crossover.

SR: The horror genre in general is usually kind of a cautionary tale about where we are and a message to society. What do you want people to take away from Sabrina? I feel like there is so much especially with a hour-long format in a serialized storytelling. What would you want fans to take away?

Michelle Gomez: I just think because of the bravery and the courage that this character shows...it's like be who you want to be regardless of whatever....There's a wonderful saying, 'Whatever you think of me is none of my business.' That's how to sum up Sabrina. She's fearless and brave and just you know an inspiration to young women out there. And I think if there was a magic power that anyone of us could tap it would be to suck the fear out of people because I feel like we are gripped in fear right now. What we're creating is relevant to that. Take us to the fantasy and walk past your fears...

SR: If each one of you had to sum up the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina in a hashtag, what would that hashtag be? Without giving any spoilers away...

Lucy Davis: Our actual hashtag is #CAOS. Which is chaos! I actually think that is quite light...Quite good.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: Oh my god! I just got that!

ALL: [LAUGHS]

Kiernan Shipka: Roberto is realizing things!

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: I learn things everyday. It's pretty good. Wait did you know that?

SR: He's so involved in running the show, he's single focused. Well guys thank you so much for stopping by. You guys are wonderful and enjoy your panel, the Netflix and Chill panel later on tonight. And hashtag CAOS.

Kiernan Shipka: Hashtag Chaos.

More: How Sabrina Could Crossover With Riverdale

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