Kiernan Shipka Talks Returning to ‘Riverdale,’ Nabrina, and More

Kiernan Shipka is back as Sabrina Spellman! The actress played the beloved character in all four parts of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and previously appeared during Riverdale’s five-episode event, Rivervale. New episodes of Riverdale air Sundays at 8 PM ET on The CW. This interview will include spoilers for episode 6×19, “Chapter One Hundred and Fourteen: The Witches of Riverdale.”

SABRINA SPELLMAN (GUEST STAR KIERNAN SHIPKA) COMES TO TOWN — When several of their own fall prey to Percival’s (guest star Chris O’Shea) latest plan, Cheryl (Madelaine Petsch) calls upon fellow witch Sabrina Spellman (guest star Kiernan Shipka) for help. Elsewhere, Percival gives Reggie (Charles Melton) an ultimatum.

We discussed her favorite filming memories from the episode, that big Sabrina and Nick twist, the iconic Archie Comics moment, dream Riverdale interactions for the final season, and more. Keep reading for all the details!

Riverdale — “Chapter One Hundred and Fourteen: The Witches of Riverdale” — Image Number: RVD619b_0075r — Pictured (L – R): Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman and Caroline Day as Heather – Photo: Colin Bentley/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

So first off, I loved the interactions between Sabrina and the women of Riverdale. What was it like to do those scenes? Did you have a favorite to film or to see play out on screen in the final version?
Kiernan Shipka: Yeah, it was so fun. I mean, I think my favorite scene to film was maybe that dance scene with all the ladies because it felt really cathartic, fun, and right, and just absolutely necessary. It had to happen, all those characters have been through so much, so a dance break was very welcomed. I loved working with those girls so much, and I think they’re all really talented, lovely, and wonderful. We had always crossed paths, but to actually be able to work together and have dialogue together was just so fun. So that was probably one of my favorite moments to film just because it was so joyous. Then all the stuff with Jughead/Nick was just delightfully mind twisty and fun. That was a highlight for sure.

There was this awesome moment seeing the Archie Comics version of both Jughead and Sabrina together. What was it like to get in those costumes with Cole Sprouse and be in that environment? Obviously, you had the comics books everywhere too.
It was pretty surreal. It was kind of– I know this character, I’ve played her for a really long time, I know these sets, and I’ve worked for most of my life, I’ve done this, and I had so many cool moments, but that was a real highlight. That was a real, “What is my life? I am playing an iconic Archie comic book character, I’m sitting across from Jughead Jones in Pop’s. This life is so cool, my job is so cool.” It was really a my job was so cool moment and it was really fun.

This episode addresses the CAOS ending. What were your thoughts on the explanation and in your mind, is this Sabrina’s ending, or do you have any ideas for yourself of what might happen in her story next, even if we don’t get to see it on screen necessarily?
I feel like they always leave this stuff so open-ended, right? I mean, to me, there has not been an ending to Sabrina yet. I kind of like it that way, I kind of like that we keep stringing it along and I think one day there will be sort of some sense of closure, and I do hope that we can get people that sense of closure in a tangible way. I hope it can be brought to life on screen because she’s so beloved and all the characters in Chilling Adventures are so wonderful and kind of deserve a real finale, I think. And I think that fans would want that and deserve that too. But the way I kind of interpret it is that life goes on for Sabrina and she’s sort of just existing but also she’s a witch and life is long, and her life is gonna be big. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of twists and turns, and I just hope that people get to experience them with us.

We also see Sabrina resurrect Nick and bring him back in Jughead’s body, which I thought I saw everything between Riverdale and CAOS, but this threw me for a total loop. What was it like to revisit that dynamic in such a different way with Cole and find out this big twist?
It was hilarious. When I read the script, my jaw dropped. I let out an audible noise of some sort, and Cole was so committed to the bit and we had so much fun. It was one of my favorite memories as Sabrina was playing off of Nick Scratch/Jughead. I just think that why not?

Did you get to tell Gavin Leatherwood what was gonna happen with Nick and Sabrina, like, does he know?
I actually don’t know. I think I might have forgotten to tell him. He might be surprised on the day. I have no idea.

Oh my gosh, that’s gonna be a shock. He’s gonna get tagged in a bunch of stuff from this episode.
Oh my God, he’s gonna be like, “What is going on? I wasn’t in Riverdale.”

Sabrina also had my favorite quote of the episode, basically just talking about how all powerful, disruptive women have the potential to become witches. What do you think that quote means on a bigger life scale? I think it’s a really powerful one.
Absolutely. I mean, I think that Sabrina has always been such a feminist figure to me. Her tenacity, her selflessness, and her passion for justice and standing up for what she believes in has always been such an inspiring, wonderful quality. I think that she really represents so much good, she has so much goodness; she’s filled with so much goodness and she wants for a world that is good. I think that that obviously means so much and it means so much to hear her say that, especially to these other characters that they have the power within them, and they can harness that power and use it for good, to move the needle and make changes, and I think that’s all really powerful messenges, honestly.

I am a little heartbroken that we didn’t get to see Sabrina and Toni Topaz interact. I feel like they would be such a good duo. So if you had the opportunity to get a one-on-one scene with Toni, what would you have wanted for them?
I know, that would’ve been really cool, right? Oh my gosh, I don’t know. I feel like Toni might bring out something new in Sabrina. I don’t know why, I feel like Sabrina was kind of the teacher in this episode in many ways; I think she’s the adult, the witch, the guide. I think that if she met Toni, Toni might kind of shake Sabrina up a little bit. I would love to see that.

Riverdale’s final season is coming up. Any chance we will see you as Sabrina again? Would you come back and what would you want to do?
I think it’s safe to say there’s always a chance right now. I mean, Sabrina’s clearly not done, and what would I want to do? Oh my gosh, I would do anything. I feel like… well, I would want to kind of have all the interactions, so I think Toni and Archie, I still want scenes with. It kind of just depends on whatever, however— whenever they need my help, I’m there. I feel like things might go awry in that town and Sabrina would be a good person to call. I’d also love to see some other Chilling characters come over with her. I think that would be really fun too.

Riverdale — “Chapter One Hundred and Fourteen: The Witches of Riverdale” — Image Number: RVD619b_0324r — Pictured (L – R): Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossom, Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina Spellman and Caroline Day as Heather — Photo: Colin Bentley/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Yes, can we just do a huge a crossover?
Like a massive crossover. I remember one of my favorite crossovers back in the day was on Disney Channel, which was That’s So Suite Life of Hannah Montana, and if we just did that but with CAOS and Riverdale, it would be perfect. Just a massive crossover!

So you’ve popped in twice now, what is your reaction when you find out what exactly is going on in the town of Riverdale?
Well, it’s great because they send me the script and I hadn’t read obviously the nineteen scripts leading up to it, so I have questions. Clearly, a lot is happening, but it’s kind of also fun to dive in because I think Sabrina is just diving in too so it sort of works for the character. She doesn’t exactly know everything that’s happened in Riverdale and she’s just there to help. So that makes my job easier as far as catching up and getting filled in on all the stuff that’s gone down. But it is really fun honestly, to jump in so far into the season, and just kind of pop in, be present, have some fun, and shake things up.

Fans really love this character, I know I don’t need to tell you that. I love this character, I know you love this character. What do you hope Sabrina’s legacy or impact is?
Aw, thank you! Yeah, I think that her passion for being a force for good is absolutely inspiring. I think that she’s such a fierce, fiery character, and I hope that young women and young people who admire her and love her as a character, bring that inspiration into their own life, and speak up for what matters to them and what they believe to be right and true. So, to me, she’s more than just entertaining, she really is a fighter. She’s a warrior and she’s fiery, and I think we need fire and we need passion in this life. If she can inspire other people to fight for their friends and people they don’t know and for what’s right, I hope that she does that. I hope that’s a big part of her legacy.

So I feel like Nabrina shippers are gonna go into this episode and be a little surprised.
They’re gonna be shaken. It was a lot. We threw a lot at you guys.

Yes! I was honestly a little shaken. We had this image of Nick and Sabrina in the Sweet Hereafter, but now Sabrina is back and Nick’s there alone. Do you think in the future, Sabrina is gonna find a way to get her Nick back so they can have their happily ever after?
Yeah, she’s not gonna give up. That’s another thing that Sabrina I think never does is give up. To me, that’s one of the most inspiring parts about her is that she tries, she fails, and she learns from it, and she tries again and that is something that we all need.

So your message to Nick and Sabrina shippers would be what?
Don’t give up, just like Sabrina’s not either!

For the final season, I’m expecting you to drag Gavin back to Riverdale with you and have that Nabrina reunion.
I think that somehow it could happen. I have not lost hope. Another thing, don’t lose hope, right? All these inspirational messages.

I have to say, I’m a Veronica stan, I’m a Sabrina stan and I feel like they would have such a fun dynamic. What do you think their friendship would be like? I think it would be such a fresh relationship for both of them.
I think it’d be so fun. I think they could probably learn a lot from each other as well and I’d love to see it. I think one of my favorite scenes in the episode was when Sabrina and Jughead or Sabrina and Nick, I guess, had their little quiet moment at the Italian restaurant because I love a grounded scene. I love heightened stuff, and that’s all so fun and great, but at the end of the day, having like a one-on-one, character-to-character heart-to-heart chat is so fun, and I think really, it’s the foundation for any show. So to see Sabrina and Veronica like catch up, get coffee, and talk about all the things that they want to do with their lives and what they’re working on would be really lovely. Like I just want to see the girls hang and catch up.

I love that. That would be iconic. We need more grounded moments, and I feel like they’re the perfect two for that.
I think so. I think a grounded Sabrina, Veronica drink would be lovely.

Definitely need some more girl power, always love girl power.
It’s so true. We do.

Lastly, what is it like to see the excitement for you coming back? This is your second time and fans really do just get so excited, some of them literally just tune in to see you on their screens as Sabrina again.
It’s really weird for my brain to process but in a very exciting, thrilling kind of way. I show up to work and I enjoy playing this character, and I love her but I always forget that other people do too. I really work in sort of an insular way where when I see the excitement from other people I’m like reminded and it feels like I’m being told for the first time that other people see her, and it’s really gratifying. It’s really gratifying and I feel so lucky to love what I do, love who I play, and to be able to share that with people– so exciting. It’s so thrilling. I’m so happy that, you know, I feel like I’m responsible for a lot of Sabrina but I share her with everyone. I think that that’s the most fun part of it, is the fact that everyone can experience Sabrina, the fact that I can do something to bring that character to life, give people joy, make them happy, and make them tune in is… I’m just too lucky. It’s awesome.