‘CAOS’ Star Miranda Otto on Zelda’s Relationship With Sabrina, Her Backstory & a ‘Witchy’ Season 2
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Netflix’s Christmas special, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale.]
Happy … Solstice? That’s right, the witches’ holiday is upon us, and Netflix is gifting a new holiday special of their show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina titled “A Midwinter’s Tale.”
TV Insider chatted with the show’s moral compass, Miranda Otto (who plays the stunning Aunt Zelda) about what to expect from the festive episode and Season 2. Plus, we dug into the show’s themes of motherhood, babies, and the benefits of an Australian Christmas.
The holiday special elaborates on the really intricate, complicated relationship between Zelda and Sabrina. Zelda is a sort of mother figure to Sabrina, but Aunt Z can be tempestuous depending on the situation. Why is that?
Miranda Otto: Zelda just wants Sabrina to be the very, very bestest best witch that she can be. So she’s one of those people that, while she’s admiring Sabrina and taken with her strengths, she’s like a coach. Zelda’s always pushing her to do better and admonishing her when it’s not right. She’s strict and she’s taxing, but she loves Sabrina incredibly.
A lot of what she does is because she wants to protect Sabrina because she feels that her being half witch, half mortal that there are a lot of dangers for her. In particular, because she’s not just a [pure] witch, that there’s so many more decisions that Sabrina has to make, so many more things that she has to learn. And so, a lot of her overbearingness at times, I think, is just based on really trying to prepare Sabrina as best as she can for the path that she has.
How does the baby throw a wrench in things?
Zelda is not one usually to wallow in her emotions. She tries to get on with things and I think underneath all of that, she’s really quite vulnerable — usually people who don’t deal emotionally with things a lot, it ends up that when they do, it’s a little overwhelming for them. The baby, Leticia, really gets under her skin. Partially, I think, because of Leticia’s story and saving her from Father Blackwood, but she’s just really taken with looking after this baby.
That’s such a transition from the beginning of Season 1, where there were so many rules and Zelda was intent on a “this is what we do, this is tradition” sort of attitude, to the end where she completely throws it all out the window when she kidnaps the baby.
I think the fact is that, when we open [the] season, that is a very strong part of Zelda sticking to the dogma, sticking to the rules, sticking to the party [line]. Sticking with whatever the Church of Night says to do, even if you feel like maybe it’s not right, you do it because you have to.
But I think particularly in the beginning episodes of Season 1, there’s so much hinging on Sabrina signing her name in the Book of the Beast. Zelda is just determined that Sabrina is going to write history the way that she wants it to be and Zelda’s not going to take no for an answer. So she’s really at a very crux point to her at that beginning. I don’t think she’s always as tough as that, but you know, she can be tough.
Going back to complicated relationships, will we ever get more backstory on what seems to be an extremely complex relationship between Zelda, her brother Edward (Sabrina’s father), and his wife?
That’s a slowly evolving story. That’s a very long, long arc and I don’t even know answers to certain questions. I’ll be talking to Lucy (who plays Hilda) and I’m like, is Edward her older brother, or is he their middle brother? I’m not sure! There are things that the writers know that they haven’t told us and there’s probably things that the writers are still deciding what they want. What’s the most delicious family history that they can create?
So I feel like, over time, we’re going to find out more about Edward and more about who he is. In Season 2, there are more hints about Edward and more reveals about Edward and Diana definitely. And we learned quite a bit more about Diana in the Christmas episode.
We do! That scene with Diana and Sabrina really verbalizes the feeling that yes, Hilda and Zelda are Sabrina’s “mothers.” I thought that really brings that theme of motherhood forward.
I just watched it last night. It was a really touching scene between Sabrina and Diana, and also there’s a lovely scene between Sabrina and Harvey at the end. Just lovely. Kiernan just goes from strength to strength.
Can you tell us what’s next for Zelda in Season 2, after the holiday special?
There are some big, big events in the second season, and I can’t really tell you what they are, but it’s quite eventful for Zelda. She makes some big decisions. And we definitely get a lot more witchy in the second season. After signing her name in the Book of the Beast, Sabrina starts to dip her toe a lot more strongly into the witch world and learning more about the witch world, and Zelda’s very happy that Sabrina is moving more in that direction. But it has its darker sides, the witch world.
Will we be diving more into witch mythology or the idea of witches in modern times?
More dealing into the mythology, more dealing into the customs, and there’s a lot of fun. I think that’s one of the things I love about this show is it reminds me of the shows when I was a kid where there’s a great sense of fun. I think because we are dealing with witches and stuff like that, we have license to have a lot of fun because we don’t have to just be real, real, real all the time. Not everything has to be how it is. We have the power to use our imaginations and make all kinds of amazing things happen.
There’s nothing in a story that isn’t possible because witch world and we can do whatever we want. One of the very funnest things about working on this is that there are no limits to what we do. But yes, [there will be] a lot of witch world, a lot of Church of Night, and even involving more of the Baxter High people into knowing more about the witch world as well.
What are you most looking forward to for your Christmas break [Sabrina is currently filming in Vancouver, B.C.]?
Actually, seeing my parents and having an Australian Christmas, which is always a hot Christmas.
That’s something hard to comprehend for those of us buried in snow this time of year. Do you have any traditions that are a little bit different from us northerners?
Usually on Christmas morning we get up and open presents, my husband, daughter and I. And then my husband takes my daughter down to the surf club and they have this special thing where all the kids jump in the ocean and go looking for these little egg things they’ve put in under the ocean; it’s like sort of an egg hunt under the water.
Then they come back and my parents will come over and we cook lunch together and we just hang out all day and then probably swim in the pool cause it’ll probably be really hot. It’s just really a time to catch up with my family. I feel this year, because I have been in Vancouver for so much of the year, I haven’t been able to go back to Australia. It’s been a year since I’ve been back. I’m really looking forward to seeing my friends and family.
Last question: favorite holiday movie?
Miracle on 34th Street. It’s just such a lovely, lovely naïve sweet movie.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale, Streaming, Friday, December 14, Netflix