Kiernan Shipka Explains How Sabrina Fits Into the Chilling Adventures of ‘Riverdale’

Riverdale - Kiernan Shipka
Q&A
Kailey Schwerman/The CW

It’s like the Dark Lord heard our prayers! Almost a year after signing off—and sacrificing herself to the Void—Archieverse conjurer Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) is flying into Riverdale. For the entire run of Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, fans were hoping for a crossover, given that CAOS took place in the neighboring town of Greendale, but alas, all we got were a few mentions and Easter Eggs. Curses!

Thankfully, showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has figured out a way to spring the teenaged witch from her immortal coil and bring her into the freaky fold. In the December 7 episode, “Chapter Ninety-Nine: The Witching Hour(s),” Shipka’s spellcaster comes to town for the fourth installment of the five-week “event” that has seemingly found our town reimagined in the mind of Jughead (Cole Sprouse). What brings her around is a spoiler, but we can say that the outing features three different timelines and has some interesting things to say about what makes Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) tick.

Maybe Shipka will spill some more details? Let’s ask her!

It is so cool to see you come back. It’s a bit of a gift to the fans, I think.

I love that you think that and I appreciate you saying that to me. It was never a question: Sabrina had to come back, you know? I would do it in a heartbeat and I would do it again. I think that the reason CAOS was what it was and felt like it did, was because underneath [everything] was this very strong fandom. Both with Riverdale and with Sabrina.

And my experience with Sabrina was, the show ended up getting written in such a way that it played off of the excitement of the fans. They were almost part of the writers’ room. They were part of the process and the reason why the show was what it was. And so the crossover to Riverdale to me just felt like, “Oh my God, they’re going to love this.” I adore them so much and it makes me so happy that it’s making other people happy in that way.

Riverdale - Kiernan Shipka

Kailey Schwerman/The CW

That is so lovely! You knew Camila Mendes, but had you worked with anyone else before this?

No. I knew Cami and when we were filming up in Vancouver around the same time, we would all kind of hang out. I love Cole. I know Lili [Reinhart] and K.J. [Apa], but I really actually didn’t know Madelaine that well. She was one of the few people that I rarely crossed paths with up in Vancouver, so it was just such a delight to get to know her and become buds.

How was it for you slipping back into the character? When they released the teaser and we saw you in that red look, it was like, “Okay, this is right. They got this.”

Yeah. It was kind of crazy. I didn’t know how it would feel, then all of sudden it was like riding a bike…but like if riding a bike was the most exciting thing you’ve ever done. [Laughs]

Riverdale - Madelaine Petsch + Kiernan Shipka

Kailey Schwerman/The CW

And what does she bring with her? Because the last time we saw her, the girl was dead!

Well, I mean she was, but I don’t think she is anymore. [Laughs] I think that time has passed and obviously the fun thing about the show is that anything goes. In Riverdale and in Greendale, things beyond explanation can be justified and Sabrina’s help was needed from Cheryl. We learn that they’ve been friends but obviously there’s still some mystique and some true mystery as to how exactly Sabrina got back, how she’s there and how she knows Cheryl.

There’s a lot of unanswered questions, but I would like to think that this is not the only crossover. I would like to think that this is more of a taste of what is possibly to come with Sabrina’s involvement in Riverdale. It’s not meant to answer everything.

You could see her coming back?

Yeah, I totally could. I want her at Pop’s, you know? Sabrina can’t stop doing spells and being a witch, so I want her to like, chill for a minute and I don’t know…go on a date with Jughead.

You’re just going to get the fans going with that one.

I know! [Laughs] I want a SabrinaRiverdale love story crossover.

CAOS did feel like it came to a very fitting end. It was bleak, but also right given all of the things that they had gone through.

It did feel right. We shot it in such a way where, if we came back there was an additional scene, and if we didn’t, it ended with Sabrina being the most selfless version of herself, fighting for all the people that she loved, and I think that’s beautiful and cathartic. Even in this episode, Sabrina says, “Happy sad endings are the best,” which in my mind, is a direct reference to the CAOS finale in many ways.

And you must have been so gratified with how that all turned out because it really did give you this incredible chance to grow. People got to see the little kid from Mad Men become this strong young woman.

Yeah, it was a thrilling experience for me because I learned so much about myself from the character and I learned so much about myself as an actor. Really, it felt like the most magical—absolutely no pun intended—opportunity to take the next step, and I’m forever grateful to Roberto and everyone over at Netflix. All the powers that allowed me to be Sabrina Spellman, I am forever grateful for.

SABRINA

Netflix

Are you in touch with any of the old Greendale crew? So many of them are working on new stuff now.

That is a crazy thing and I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen it with Mad Men. Everyone wraps and then they get gigs elsewhere and then we sort of split across the country or countries or continents or whatever it may be. But we still have a group chat called the Coven and it’s bumping from time to time. I love everyone and I hope to see some people over the holidays. I live near Lucy Davis. And I’m neighbors with Roberto, too.

Now, it is the holidays. Will you be watching Let It Snow this year?

Oh my God. I might!

Because I love that movie.

It’s a great movie. I actually haven’t seen it since that premiere, so maybe I will give it a watch. It was fun and I feel like I’m [ready] to be able to watch it…because watching myself is always a weird thing. But there’s so much happening outside of what I do in that movie, that it could also be an enjoyable watch. So I’m into it! [Laughs]

'Riverdale': What to Expect From Sabrina's Rivervale VisitSee Also

'Riverdale': What to Expect From Sabrina's Rivervale Visit

'We do get some answer on how Sabrina is back and helping people,' Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa says.

 

Nice. Well, have a great holiday season. And fingers-crossed, now that you have given us hope that we could see Sabrina again, because that’s very exciting…

Thank you. Of course. I’m here to be a beacon of hope whenever I can.

Sabrina’s aunties would not be happy to hear that.

I know, they would not be down from what I just said. [Laughs]

Riverdale, Tuesdays, 9/8c, The CW