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The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Netflix’s dark adaptation of the Archie Comics series, was originally in development at The CW and planned as a companion series to Riverdale. Though the show moved to Netflix last December with a straight-to-series order for two seasons, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa — the creator and executive producer of both shows — still has plans to bring the two shows together.
“I’m first and foremost a fan of these two worlds, and these two towns of Greendale and Riverdale,” Aguirre-Sacasa said at a New York Comic Con panel Friday. “I love when comic book characters cross over, so it’s a dream. Right now we’re focused on getting Sabrina out there and making sure Riverdale‘s as good as it can be, but I’m hopeful.”
Kiernan Shipka, who stars as the conflicted half-witch Sabrina Spellman, said she was pleasantly surprised to discover that the show, which premieres Oct. 26, already has a dedicated fanbase.
“Knowing that Roberto created Riverdale and Riverdale had such intense fans, I knew that people were gonna love it,” she said. “But it’s easy when you’re working to completely forget about that aspect of it. The amount of fan accounts that are popping up and cool cosplayers that are already doing outfits, it’s mind-blowing. It makes those night shoots, where you’re wrapping at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, pretty easy to get through, because we have the most awesome fans already and we haven’t even aired yet.”
Shipka joked that Salem, Sabrina’s fan-favorite black cat who also becomes her confidant, is “kind of number one on the call sheet.” The show is markedly different from the beloved 1990s sitcom Sabrina, the Teenage Witch — and based on a different series of Archie Comics — and that difference is reflected in the handling of Salem, Shipka said. “I feel like the ’90s sitcom Salem is so iconic: He’s a meme! He’s sassy Salem! So we did something different.”
At least one actor in the Sabrina cast came to the show via Riverdale. Chance Perdomo, who plays the pansexual warlock Ambrose, originally auditioned for the role of Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse). Aguirre-Sacasa said he was so taken by the actor’s audition tape for Riverdale that he wrote the role of Ambrose with Perdomo in mind.
Perdomo, for his part, is excited about the opportunity to play “a pansexual person of color with depth, who is not one-dimensional … it’s personally and artistically gratifying to play.”
The Sabrina cast appeared as the final Q&A during Friday evening’s “Netflix and Chills” panel, which featured time with the casts from four upcoming series from the streamer: Sabrina, The Umbrella Academy, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and The Haunting of Hill House.
One major announcement during the panel was the premiere date for The Umbrella Academy, which will launch Feb. 15, 2019. An adaptation of the comic book series of the same name by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, the show’s cast includes Ellen Page, Robert Sheehan, Cameron Britton and Mary J. Blige.
“You have to take liberties,” Sheehan said during the panel. “You have to splash a bit of your own originality into the soup. Otherwise you’re just re-creating something in a different form, and fuck that!” Added co-star Aidan Gallagher. “I think we do a good job of honoring the comics, but we’ve got some interesting stuff for you.”
“It’s the same feel, the characters have the same vibe,” said Britton, who broke out last year with his performance as serial killer Ed Kemper in Netflix’s Mindhunter. “But because [the show] is 10 hours of footage, they’ve really got more complex and rounded out in a lot of ways.”
A chilling clip from The Haunting of Hill House drew shouts and applause from the audience before the cast took the stage. Based on the oft-adapted 1959 novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson, the series follows a set of adult siblings who are deeply traumatized by their childhood experiences living in a haunted house.
“The first five episodes are basically the same day, but replayed from each sibling’s point of view,” said actor Oliver Jackson-Cohen. “The whole show takes place over four or five days, because there’s an event that happens in the first episode that causes a massive shift in the family.”
The show plays out across two timelines, following the Crane siblings as children and as adults, and was dubbed “harrowing” and “terrifying” by its actors. “There’s such a massive payoff at the end of the show, that’s inherently more terrifying because you’ve invested so much in these characters,” Jackson-Cohen said.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a 10-episode prequel to the cult Jim Henson classic from 1982. Henson’s daughter Lisa appeared alongside director Louis Leterrier to explain how the show links in with the original.
“In the original movie, Jen and Kira stop at the Wall of Destiny and see the ruins of what was once a beautiful Gelfling culture,” Henson said. “We took that as our jumping-off point for the whole series, saying ‘What was that culture? What was that beautiful civilization? What was lost?'”
Citing The Last Airbender, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones as influences, Henson promised “a lot of depth and detail built into the world-building.”
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