It seems hard to picture any actor other than Lili Reinhart sporting the ultra-tight ponytail and dark secrets of Betty "girl next door" Cooper on Riverdale, but there was a point before Reinhart's casting when things could have gone a different way. Things almost went a decidedly more... witchy way.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the new Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) was originally considered for the role of Betty by the showrunner of both Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. We'd heard that Sabrina almost visited the "full of pep" town before she spun off into her own Netflix world, but this would have been something else entirely.
As Aguirre-Sacasa said, “Kiernan was iconic in Mad Men, and I had even thought about her, I was like, ‘Oh I wonder if she’d ever do Betty.'" She didn't end up as Betty; Reinhart ended up as Betty, complete with all of the Jughead that ended up coming with. Shipka was still in the mix, however, especially when Sabrina started to move forward.
“When [Sabrina] moved from CW to Netflix, our casting director David Rapaport said, ‘By the way this is something Kiernan might be interested in?' ” Aguirre-Sacasa said, continuing, “There was no script at the time, but from the second he said that, for me it was sort of like, ‘OK, she’s Sabrina. I’m writing this for Kiernan.' ”
Why did Aguirre-Sacasa feel instantly that Shipka was the right fit for everyone's favorite teenage witch?
She was "the right actor at the right age at the right point in her career," he notes, adding that she was someone who "was up for the challenge" and calling the effort "grueling" due to the character being in almost every scene. Sabrina will go up against some very dark forces, and "someone like Kiernan has the gravitas and the assuredness to be able to do that," he said. "I’d say she was my first choice for sure. For sure.”
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will chill the hell out of your Netflix queue on Oct. 26... and nothing on Netflix will ever be the same again...