In the original Archie Comics and '90s sitcom adaptation, teen witch Sabrina Spellman's endeavors have been relatively lighthearted, despite her connection to the supernatural. With Netflix's take on the concept, things have gotten much darker, which includes the entire supporting cast. Fans first met Gavin Leatherwood's Nicholas Scratch in the debut season, as he was one of the top students at the Academy of Unseen Arts. While their connection was initially adversarial, the pair's undeniable chemistry led towards a flirtatious relationship, ultimately solidifying their romantic intentions in the second season. The end of that season, however, saw Nicholas taken down to Hell, presenting some serious challenges for Part Three.
The latest episodes of the series have seen Sabrina (Kiernan Shipka) and Nicholas' relationship being put to the ultimate test, as Lucifer possessed Nicholas' body, resulting in his girlfriend going on a mission directly into Hell to save him. Even after her efforts, Nicholas faced a long and complicated road towards redemption, which brought with it some drastic ramifications to their dynamic.
ComicBook.com recently caught up with Leatherwood to discuss his connection to the character, shooting Part Three, and what his future might hold.
Images courtesy of Photographer: Noah Asanias, Groomer: Candice Bridge, Stylist: Dolly Pratt, and Stylist Assistant: Miren Valdes
ComicBook.com: When Chilling Adventures of Sabrina first debuted, creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa had given us Riverdale and that was a big hit, so did you have any personal connection either with that show or the original Sabrina from Archie Comics?
Gavin Leatherwood: At the time, I had a friend that was auditioning for Sabrina, and there was so much buzz around the show. I feel like once it was announced that this amazing, mostly reimagined world was being developed, people were aware of it, especially around my age. There was talk about it.
So my friend auditioned for Sabrina and I helped with a little play, and I was reading as Harvey and I had gone in and auditioned for Harvey. I had my people and my manager try to get me an audition for Harvey. I loved to play and they were putting together an amazing ensemble of people. I just kind of had my eyes on the project for a while. I didn't feel like I was right for Harvey. He felt like an all-American good-boy. And in my eyes, I felt like I, myself, I played better as someone in the tone of Nicholas Scratch, especially considering he's developed based on this persona that I developed in seventh and eighth grade to ward off any bullies by pretending to be a bad boy. A smart bad boy. That's where the inspiration for Scratch was started, was from that point, and then kept developing and growing in ways that I did not expect. He really grows in Part Two and even more so in Part Three.
In the first part, you're this antagonist to Sabrina and then you strike up a relationship with her in Part Two, and now Part Three is taking your relationship further. How much of the character's trajectory did you know about when you signed on?
Really nothing. I knew that I was guaranteed four episodes, I had a guest star contract with those four episodes guaranteed with the option of four more. I kind of thought I was just going to come in, do these few things for a couple of episodes, and then that was going to be it. I didn't really know until around episode eight or nine. I was like, "I think I'm going to be here for a little bit longer. I think this going to be a steady job for a bit."
I really had no idea and I don't know if the writers knew at the time, either. Maybe if I showed up and I was to complete a-hole or something, or the cast didn't like me or something, I would have only had those four episodes. But, we are so lucky, we have the experience of a family out here. It's really just an amazing journey.
What's funny is, if you were a complete a-hole on set, it's possible that it would have worked perfectly for your character.
You've got to take the hat off and put the hat on. You have to. I've never been a fan of method acting, or at least I haven't had to use that technique quite yet. As soon as say they, "Cut," you come back to being yourself. Well, you got to dive into them and dive out of them. I read this great book called A Balancing Act by F. Emmanuelle Chaulet. She was a French actress and writer. She talked a lot about that, how it can be kind of a dangerous profession if you can't turn it on and off, you have a hard time psychologically and emotionally if you're not using certain tools in the field as an artist or as an actor.
Part Three of the series is giving you a complicated arc, forcing you to be very vulnerable in one scene and very gruff and abrasive in the next. Are the vulnerable scenes or the more exaggerated scenes more fun for you to play?
You have a table read when we get a new script, where Roberto comes in and the producers and all our cast, the director for the episode comes in and sits down and we'll do a table read. Some of us, it's the first time we see the script and sometimes that's just a place for the writers to push out a draft or whatever. And that scene in the woods with Sabrina, I think it is the Hare Moon episode, where I blow up on her and give her the truth, was honestly one of the most scenes. and not because I'm yelling at Kiernan. It's a challenge as an actor, to allow yourself to go to certain emotional depths and to be free in those moments just as much in the moments where you're more lighthearted. I feel like Part Three gave me a few opportunities to build Nick, to go to these deeper emotional things.
It's really just rewarding to present that because I think that's the thing that we want to express with a hard emotion. That was a really fun one, being chained up was really fun and having the Devil inside me was fun. Anything that's a challenge.
Speaking to Nick's evolution, was there collaboration on your part of how the character has changed over the years or have you mostly just trusted the writers in regards to his character and stick to their vision for him?
I'm under the mind that I want to allow the writers to do what they do best and allow Roberto to do what he does best while I try to bring my best. I think there's more collaboration with some of the other cast members and I think we're all very new to this. I've loved acting my entire life, but being part of TV show and having this character identified with me is still kind of a mind-blowing thing where I don't know how much I want to interject. I almost want to allow them to take Nick wherever he goes, and my job is to stand by and say, "Yes, and..."
You also have various directors coming in each part and directing different episodes, what's it like regularly having a new filmmaker come in to offer their perspective on the series?
I think it really keeps things fresh. I also think it's an incredible teaching lesson, to learn how to work with different personalities and different styles. Some directors are more technical, some of them are more familiar with actors and some are more experimental, some play music on set and some don't. It's a really lovely thing to be able to work with some of these directors because I feel like it's just better at preparing us for ... it's a big world out there where there are so many creatives and so many different types of people working. I think it's a really lovely thing and it's teaching you a lot and we have some amazing filmmakers come in and it's hard to see them go. But, there's always parts where they might come back. It's really something.
I know you're up filming Part Four right now and you know what's in store for your character, but is there something you'd really like to see happen with Scratch that he hasn't been given the opportunity to do yet?
You know those fight scenes when a character is attached to a cable and they fly back? They're in one position and then they just get pulled back like crazy on a cable? I want to do that to someone. I want to Force-push someone and make them go flying. I think I'd like to do that to Lucifer.
Well when you talk about there being a-holes on set, he's one character who would deserve a Force-push.
You talk about a character that's an assh-le, he's one of those characters I've met. He deserves to get pushed.
You're already playing in one comic book universe, but are there any other comic book universes you'd like to join?
I loved reading Dark Horse Comics growing up. I loved reading [Marvel MAX] Comics, which is the Punisher mostly. I loved reading Marvel. I didn't read as much DC. I read a lot of Star Wars comics. My nerdiness runs that deep and I just finished The Mandalorian and it was great. And I'm so excited for the new Jedi Academy to come out. [I'd join] any of them. It's such a fun, heightened world to play in where you have these bitching powers and it's all very dramatic. That's where my imagination, where I use to pretend, like every time going to school that I was going to Hogwarts or going to training at the Jedi Temple, or that I was in The Lord of the Rings. I literally learned how to speak Elvish in like fifth grade. To play anything in that sci-fi/fantasy/comic book kind of world, I'm down for that, man.0comments
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part Three is now streaming on Netlix.