Kiernan Shipka has graduated to a headlining role, and it’s about as far away from her Mad Men persona as possible. The teen actress, best known for playing Sally Draper on AMC’s Emmy-winning 1960s-set series, has landed a starring role as in Netflix’s upcoming Riverdale spinoff, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The still-untitled drama series has already received a two-season order. The 20-episode Netflix drama will revolve around the Archie comic book character Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
While there are few details about the Riverdale spinoff, THR reports that the Sabrina series will re-imagine the origin of Archie comic book character Sabrina Spellman as “a dark coming-of-age tale that traffics in horror, the occult and witchcraft” as the half-witch, half-mortal teen fights evil forces that threaten her. The spinoff will follow Sabrina as she begins her dark education as a sorceress while feigning a normal life as a high school sophomore.
Kiernan Shipka’s casting in the role ends a series of speculation on who would play the magical character in the spinoff series. In addition to Shipka, names like Sabrina Carpenter, Dove Cameron, and even Selena Gomez had been at the top of Riverdale fans’ wish lists. Of the final casting decision, Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater said he is “thrilled” by the announcement of Kiernan Shipka for the fan favorite role.
Kiernan Shipka is best known for her seven-season role as Sally Draper on AMC’s Mad Men, where she started out at age 7. More recently, Kiernan played Bette Davis’ daughter, B.D., in Ryan Murphy’s Feud. But the role as Sabrina takes 18-year-old Kiernan Shipka into a very dark place as she embarks on the next stage of her career.
The Sabrina Spellman character has had several incarnations on TV. Back in the 1970s, a smiley version of the character was featured on the Saturday morning cartoon Sabrina The Teenage Witch, which aired from 1970 to 1974. In the kiddie series, Sabrina used her magic but kept it a secret from Riverdale pals. Sabrina returned in cartoon form in 1977 for The New Archie and Sabrina Hour.
Twenty years later, Melissa Joan Hart played the blonde Sabrina character in a long-running live-action series also titled Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which featured the character living with her 500-year-old aunts Hilda and Zelda and a talking cat, Salem. The series aired from 1996 to 2003 on ABC and the WB.
But Kiernan Shipka’s Sabrina won’t be nearly as sunny. According to Vanity Fair, the Netflix Sabrina spinoff will be based on Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s horror comic, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. While the talking cat and ancient aunties will remain, Aguirre-Sacasa’s primary influences for the Netflix drama are the horror films Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.