2:45pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Kiernan Shipka to Star as Sabrina in Netflix 'Riverdale' Spinoff
Netflix has found its Sabrina.
Mad Men and Feud grad Kiernan Shipka has been tapped to topline the two-season, straight-to-series Sabrina Riverdale spinoff.
The show will reimagine the origin and adventures of the comic book character Sabrina the Teenage Witch as a dark coming-of-age tale that traffics in horror, the occult and witchcraft. It's described as in the vein of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist and finds Sabrina wrestling to reconcile her dual nature as a half-witch, half-mortal while fighting the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit. The untitled drama's Sabrina Spellman is described as an empowered young woman, half-human, half-witch, who is just beginning her dark education as a sorceress, even as she tries to maintain a normal life as a sophomore at Baxter High. Intelligent, compassionate and brave to the point of recklessness, Sabrina is all that stands between us and the forces of darkness that threaten our world.
The untitled Sabrina drama was put in development at younger-skewing broadcaster The CW in September. A casting search to play the reimagined teenage witch began almost immediately. Sources note that The CW and producers Warner Bros. Television had a list of actresses they eyed for the role. That was revisited, given the large 20-episode/two-season order and move to Netflix, with Shipka emerging as the top choice.
"We’re all such huge fans of Kiernan’s work that when we started talking about who this new incarnation of Sabrina could be, her name was on everyone’s wish list. This is a darker, more macabre version of Sabrina, and we’re incredibly excited for people to see Kiernan make this iconic character her own," said Riverdale executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Added Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater: “I am thrilled that Kiernan is playing Sabrina and have no doubt that she will embody the strength, courage and boldness that has made the character a fan favorite.”
Riverdale showrunner Aguirre-Sacasa, who also serves as chief creative officer of Archie Comics, penned the script. A Sabrina spinoff was originally eyed as a potential companion series for Riverdale to air in the 2018-2019 TV broadcast season. Aguirre-Sacasa will direct the drama and executive produce alongside Riverdale collaborators Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Goldwater and Lee Toland Krieger. The drama hails from Warner Bros. Television-based Berlanti Productions.
Shipka is best known for her seven-season role as Sally Draper on AMC's Mad Men. She most recently played B.D. Hyman, the teen daughter of Bette Davis, on FX's Feud. Her other credits include The Legend of Korra and Lifetime's Flowers in the Attic. She's repped by CAA, Anonymous Content and Sloane Offer.