Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Cast Interview

Jan 4, 2021

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 4 releases December 31st on Netflix. We sat down with stars Kiernan Shipka (Sabrina), Gavin Leatherwood (Nick), Lachlan Watson (Theo), and Jaz Sinclair (Roz) to talk about the thrilling final season and the journey so far. Also participating in the interview were CinemaBlend, Comic Book Resources, Fan Insider, Geek Girl Authority, and Netflix Life.

You two had an intense and unexpected Sound of Music moment in part four. how did you approach that scene, battling the eldritch terror? – CinemaBlend

Shipka: It’s interesting, when you read a scene like that on paper you don’t know what level they want. You don’t know what level of demonic possession being summoned out of you whilst singing Sound of Music they want! [laughs] You kind of just show up with blind faith on the day, and luckily I had my lovely singing partner Gavin there, and Chance [Perdomo] as well, to really just trudge through that scene. I had so much fun though, you know? It was funny, it was one of those times I could really channel all of my tired, exhaustion-like feelings and just apply it to a scene. I had a lot of fun. I like that song, too.

Leatherwood: Like with anything, you look for the truth in it. With that moment, it can very easily lean into being really goofy. I feel like something that we were able to conjure up in that scene or at least an attempt at finding, a truthful sincerity in what that song really means to Sabrina, and kind of stepping back into that role of a partner that Nick can be for Sabrina now and then. It was fun, singing that one.

What was something different you wanted to bring to your characters moving into part four? – Comic Book Resources

Shipka: I think that Sabrina’s bravery was at an all-time high this season, and I just wanted to make sure I brought as much fearlessness to the performance as the character was bringing to her life.

Leatherwood: After part three and seeing Nick in a really traumatic light I wanted to bring a lot more levity to him in part four. I think we get to see a bit of it.

What are you both going to miss the most of being on set? – Fan Insider

Shipka: I’m gonna miss the vibes. I know that’s so general but I am going to miss a bunch of people being on set at the same time, the big group scenes we do that take a whole day to shoot… Just energetically it’s such a lovely place to be, and I know that I’ll see everyone, but all of us together is a different thing and I’m really gonna miss that.

Leatherwood: I agree completely. I’ve been able to see Ross [Lynch] and Jaz and Lucy [Davis] and Kiernan and a couple facetime dates with Luke [Cook] and Tati [Gabrielle]; we’ve all gotten a chance to connect in some way but there’s gonna be something about all of us being together that I’ll certainly miss. It’s some of the most fun to get a group of personalities like this all together at once.

How did you prepare to convey Nick’s fractured state in part three? – Geek Girl Authority

Leatherwood: He was totally in an emotional pretzel. I think with anything, you want to bring truth to the character as best as you can or at least to take a good strong stab at that. I really just focused on some level of empathy to have with the character from my intellect and to sort of read the context clues of the characters and what they’ve been through. I spent a lot of time sitting with what those kinds of experiences might do to someone’s psyche in general and then doing everything that I possibly can in my personal life to remain as free in the moment on the set where certain scenes called for that kind of display of trauma or what-have-you. Really, I truly think that if there’s anything you’re holding onto personally as an actor or as a human it’s going to somehow manifest in your character so you have to be free and ready to play. You want to be a pit-bull, not a poodle.

Shipka: Poodles are pretty smart though, they’re like the smartest breed!

Leatherwood: They really are, I take it back – you gotta be a poodle, not a pit-bull.

Shipka: maybe both!

The show started off with somewhat more tangible horror that has evolved to an abstract, cosmic level. What has that transition been like for you? – GWW

Shipka: It’s been fun. The first part we really embraced camp and horror and paying homage to a lot of classical horror films and at the end of the day that’s still the foundation of our show. As you grow you want to do more than what you started with and I think going into a bit more of a cosmic, thrilling direction was very fitting for us. I think it’s where we landed naturally, we played around in a lot of different spaces and the time we had to do that was such a nice thing. We had a lot of variety and that’s a super cool thing. The Exorcism and Rosemary’s Baby nods in the first couple episodes are still so close to my heart. This show wouldn’t exist without Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] and his love for classical horror movies.

How did you approach playing the two versions of Sabrina, especially in scenes where you’re opposite yourself? – CinemaBlend

Shipka: It was super fun. I feel like when Sabrina split, Sabrina Spellman I wanted to remain the Sabrina Spellman we know and love; the character I know and love and know how to play. Sabrina Morningstar was this interesting thing to tackle, this offshoot of Sabrina, who she would be in another life. I think we all have a vision of who we’d be in another life, another position. I wanted to tap into a couple of Sabrina Spellman’s traits and exacerbate them into Sabrina Morningstar. I think that Morningstar is feisty and flirty and fun and I had so much fun implementing different mannerisms and vocal cadences to distinguish the two. Playing opposite myself was quite interesting. It’s not a situation you’d think you’d find yourself in but alas, gotta save the world somehow.

Who are these characters to you? – Comic Book Resources

Shipka: To me Sabrina Spellman is a Scorpio, she is passionate, she is a champion of love and she’s a very, very good friend.

Leatherwood: I feel like Nick would not be who he is without Sabrina. He’s so driven by love. Nick was like a lamp that was never turned on until Sabrina came into his life and since she brought that light he sort of saw the world in a whole new way. Before where lust was more his driving factor, his lust for knowledge, being the best, for power, and strength, was all at the forefront until Sabrina flipped that world on its head. As he went through it all, he discovered the power of love and how much more powerful love is than anything else.

A lot of fans were hoping for a Riverdale crossover. What did you think of this idea and what could have been? – Fan Insider

Shipka: I think that riverdale could use a witch. They’re going through a ton of stuff and need some celestial vibes! They need a little extra power, someone who knows reincarnation, necromancy… They need that in their world. I think it would be just a really fun vibrant world if the two had collided at some point.

If there’s a piece of advice you could impart to Sabrina for the onset of Part 4 what would you say? – Geek Girl Authority

Shipka: Gosh, I don’t even know! “Hold your damn horses.” It’s funny because I don’t think I would have that much advice for Sabrina, I feel like I learned more from Sabrina than anything, just in the way she carried herself. The story is as amazing as it is, I don’t think I would even dare to touch it.

Are there any spells that your characters have used that you wish were available in real life? – GWW

Shipka: So many! There’s a protection spell…

[Shipka and Leatherwood speaking Latin]

Shipka: …I would use it to go out in the world right now. That’s her Latin mask, to be free to go to the grocery store.

Letaherwood: There’s that necromancy one that we use in Part 4 , it’s not Latin it’s something else… Bringing back people from the dead would be pretty cool. One minute resurrections, I’d be into that.

How did you approach your performance when Theo was possessed by the incubus? – CinemaBlend

Watson: It was amazing! It was so weird and fun. Theo doesn’t really get to go into the supernatural stuff that often, he’s always just sort of there to help clean up but is never in the down & dirty. That was absolutely hilarious, I had the best time with that. I was really excited ‘cause their eyes turn yellow. I was reallyy excited to wear the contacts and on the day they were like “oh no we’re doing it with visual effects” and I got so mad but I just saw the trailer and it looks amazing! I’m glad it all turned out well, it was really fun.

How has it been to embrace the musical side of your characters? – Comic Book Resources

Sinclair: It’s been so fun, such a treat. We already liked to jam together, sing together, Lachlan has the voice of an angel. Getting to do that together was such a seamless transition. Any time you’re moving on set, performing, the days go by really fast. There’s more music, it’s gonna be really good. We sang on set all the time anyways. I love that about Roberto; he’ll see something happening in real life and be like “great, I’m gonna use that,” and write it in.

Watson: Wilder and wilder and wilder, I can’t wait. We really got to have fun with some of the ones in Part 4. We really got to go all out with the performance, energy, and the vibes. Jaz & I both dabble in music, I know Jaz is becoming a world-renowned musician as we speak. For both of us it was really cool to be able to take those skills and learn new things. Jaz plays the bass now, I play the drums now, we both had to learn that for Sabrina. To be in recording studios for the first time, to be on Spotify, you can play our songs from [the show] there, it’s so cool! I didn’t expect to get that from this experience. Walking away feeling empowered about music was really neat.

What are you both going to miss the most on set? – Netflix Life

Watson: I think [pause] I don’t know! I kinda wanna go back to the music, the music is something that’s really cool. I don’t know – Jaz?

Sinclair: Something I’m gonna miss? So much.

Watson: I know right? There’s so much to miss, the music was a beautiful experience.

Sinclair: The table reads!

Watson: The table reads were amazing.

Sinclair: The table reads were epic. We didn’t just read, it we lived it. It was really special. All of our castmates are so talented so to get to hear them all [pause] Our scenes don’t all cross over, the mortals and the witches, so having the table reads to bring us all together felt like such an ensemble so I’m gonna miss that. I loved that.

Watson: Everyone brought their A game to the table reads. It was like sitting back and watching this full performance.

What was the most challenging scene for you to film on the show out of all four parts? – Geek Girl Authority

Watson: They were all unique and challenging in their own ways. Some of them were really hard because you have to deal with, having to learn so many lines after doing a night shoot ’til five am the night before, and having to show up and be ready, and other scenes that were challenging in an emotional way. Theo cried a lot! So that was always kinda challenging. There were love scenes that were really uniquely challenging, that specific brand of vulnerability I haven’t had to dive into as an actor. There are so many things that I think challenged us all, it was almost like its own sort of eldritch terror where Roberto saw where we needed a little bit of confidence or a boost and it was just this subtle psychological thing where I’ve learned a lot of what I needed to learn whether it was purposeful or not. I feel grateful for the challenges as much as the easy and fun parts.

Sinclair: I’d say for two very different reasons one of the most challenging scenes was Sabrina’s coronation, where she becomes the queen of hell. We were in hell and it was the three of us lined up there. It was a big scene, lots of words and the Fright Club didn’t do sh*t all day. Standing there and staying engaged in such a long scene when you’re standing there in a little room, twelve to fourteen hour days and that’s the whole day. I was particularly antsy that day, it was tough. For a completely different reason, playing blind was difficult. I wanted to do it justice, and it’s vulnerable and uncomfortable. You rely on your eyes so much as an actor for risks, freedom, choices. To take that away and still try and be present. When you’re not focusing on your eyeballs there’s a certain kind of naked feeling when there’s a camera on you. That was really challenging as well.

How do you feel that your connection to your characters has changed from casting until now, do you feel they’ve influenced you as people? – GWW

Sinclair: I just feel the whole experience has influenced me as a person. When I think of Jaz when we started, Roz when we started, both are very different. Honestly just being on set seeing people like Kiernan be a boss and show up ready to go, never complain and work so hard. See Michelle [Gomez] be brave and take chances, Richard [Coyle], and Lachlan! You just learn so much from everybody. Being Roz has taught me a lot but I’d say I learned more just being around Roz and everyone in that world.

Watson: The story spans so much time in the characters’ lives and the experience spans so much time in our lives. It was like a mini college experience for me. I came onto the show at 16, I graduated high school on set! Now being where I am is like being a lost little butterfly, flying away. It really is interesting, those were really big years of my life and they were really big years of Theo’s life too. We taught each other and informed each other. Taking risks in my life, and going through emotional stuff in my life, and having it weirdly parallel Theo’s life too was really a little freaky. There was a cosmic energy to it like [pause] all of the lessons I learned were just a little too accurate and I’m really grateful for that ’cause they were so special and what I needed at the time, that was really cool.

Were there any moments in at least the first episodes of part four that as soon as you read them you were dying to film? – CinemaBlend

Sinclair: Yes! Being a witch. There’s a scene where Mambo Marie comes in and says “chérie, you are a weird one” and I was like “yes, let’s go!” It was my Harry Potter “you’re a wizard” moment and I’ve been waiting for that since I was a little girl, that was really special for me. I was smiling the whole day on set.

Watson: I think mine was the opposite. I had one scene I was dreading completely, and that was Robin and Theo’s breakup. It may or may not last, Jon [Whitesell] and I both read that like “aw, man!” We spent so much time cultivating this beautiful thing with Theo and Robin. We only got an episode at a time, we were never informed of our whole arc. I think Kiernan’s the only one that got the privilege to know how her character started & ended; so me and Jon were just like “is that it?” We didn’t know if that was gonna be it so we just had this day on set where we did all of our scenes together – we made out for ten hours and broke up for five. It was a very emotional day. I think it was that same buildup and suspense, and we both walked away from that being like “wow, we did really good work today.” Everyone has their own version of a happy ending. I’m really grateful for what I learned from it. Thankfully it wasn’t that scary at all.

What was something you were keen as leaving as a personal stamp on your characters? – Comic Book Resources

Watson: We saw Theo have such a hard time in the first two parts and I think a lot of queer people can relate to that aspect of queer tragedy and queer suffering, but that’s not all there is to being a queer person or any sort of teen. It’s not all bad all the time. Some queer narratives can really get focused on that, get focused on the hard part, I was really excited to come back for parts three and four to just show some queer joy and a version of a happy ending, and to show some positive growth and reclamation of power. To take that happiness back and really embody that. To allow Theo to have that, and allow all these queer or otherwise kids watching, help them realize it gets better and you deserve good things, so much happiness, so much joy. Even if it comes in the form of a 3000 year old hobgoblin, there is joy out in the world for you. It felt like the only way to go with Theo. Theo just needed that empowerment and I’m really grateful we got the chance to show that.

Sinclair: I had a really good conversation with Roberto, because when I signed on for the show I was really excited to play this feminist, loud, un-scared girl in this witch world. We get to experience so many things, then in part 3 it was mainly cheerleading and questionable friendship decisions with Harvey. I had a really good conversation with Roberto where I was just like “I want these parts of Roz back. I really like the feminist. I really want this mixed relationship to have justice. If you’re gonna do it, we gotta do it. If we’re not gonna do it that’s fine too, but if we’re gonna do it let’s make it fine and beautiful and lovely.” He was just like “thanks for bringing this to my attention, I have eight hundred characters I’m writing and didn’t notice.” He took everything I said to heart. That’s why Roz gets so much cool stuff in part four, because he was so receptive to that conversation and really did everything in his power to give me a lot of fun, juicy, deep, lovely stuff. I’m super grateful to him for hearing me.

Special thanks to Kiernan Shipka, Gavin Leatherwood, Lachlan Watson, and Jaz Sinclair for taking the time to speak with us. Watch the trailer for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 4 below: