Similar to Harry Potter's mom and dad in J.K. Rowling's magical book series and their movie adaptations, Sabrina Spellman's parents continue to have a pivotal impact on her life from beyond the grave. With the first season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina now on Netflix and the holiday special and second season set to premiere in the coming months, we caught up with Annette Reilly in our latest Q&A to discuss playing Sabrina's mother, Diana, working on the show's occult-centric sets, what she enjoys the most about playing Sabrina's mom, and directing her short film A Typical Fairytale.
Thanks for taking the time to answer questions for us, and congratulations on your role as Sabrina Spellman’s mother, Diana, on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. What was the audition process like for the role of Diana?
Annette Reilly: It’s absolutely my pleasure! Thanks for taking the time to do the interview! The audition process from my end seemed pretty simple. I went to an audition, had a great time in the room, and next thing I know the tape is being sent to the network for approval! It’s kind of funny though… I had a horrible morning before the audition. My daughter, who is usually light and bright and fun, was a complete mess. I felt like I had the flu. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong. I didn’t even brush my hair. And in I go to this audition. I used all the craziness of the morning in the audition scene and just let it all out. It was quite cathartic. Auditions can have either a really positive or negative effect on the rest of the day, I find. The audition for Diana definitely left me in a good mood.
Were you a fan of the Sabrina character or the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic book series before joining the new series?
Annette Reilly: You know, I used to read Archie Comics all the time as a kid and I did always like the Sabrina comics. I like witchy and supernatural things and the Sabrina comics were always fun and cheeky. I had no idea that Archie Comics had started doing horror-style versions of their classics. When I got cast and found out that the source material was a comic, I ordered it right away. It’s so good! It was much more graphic than I was expecting, which isn’t a bad thing. It really heightened the excitement I had for the project.
What do you enjoy the most about playing Diana?
Annette Reilly: I love her wardrobe! Haha. I mean, did you see the hat I was wearing in episode five at the wedding?! We have so much fun trying on different vintage dresses… But seriously, wardrobe is very important to me in creating a character. Part of my acting process is the transformation into the character as I get into their clothes. I love that my idea of the character has been consistent with how the writers and the designers see her.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina goes all-out with its humor and horror, and there are some very memorable scenes featuring satanic rituals and dark magic. What was it like for you to be on set and be a part of the show’s magical and macabre moments?
Annette Reilly: Oh gosh. There were so many little eerie details in every set. Sometimes it felt like we were truly part of an occult experience. It was enough to give me the chills at times. Really, that’s the magic of it all. The production design is incredible. The entire vibe of the show both on set and on screen is pure magic—scary, fun, and thrilling magic!
Looking back at your time on set, is there a favorite or funny moment that stands out?
Annette Reilly: There was one day on set where the majority of the main cast was there for the entire day. Us “older” folks decided to teach the “kids” how to do the floss. It was ridiculous. And hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing. Somebody filmed it… hopefully that video has been destroyed. Hahaha.
Even though her mother is no longer living on the mortal realm, Sabrina really admires her parents and is still influenced by them in her everyday life. Can viewers look forward to seeing more of Diana in the future of the series?
Annette Reilly: Maybe Sabrina will find a way to bring her parents back to life! One can only hope… hahaha. Honestly though, I know nothing and if I did, I wouldn’t be allowed to say. We’ll all just have to wonder together!
I’m actually more interested in knowing what the fan theories are! That’s always my favorite part of being a fan… throwing out theories and then finding out which one was close!
In addition to Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, do you have any other projects coming up that you’re excited about? Where can our readers go online to keep up with your work?
Annette Reilly: I always have projects on the go… it’s part of who I am—constantly creating! I have my first documentary in post-production right now. It’s an exploration of my cancer journey and that of my friend, Aimee. I hope to have that on the festival circuit soon.
I’ve also got the Storyhive version of my short film, A Typical Fairytale, online for people to see. We will be doing a festival run with that one starting January 2019. It’s a quirky fairytale, written all in rhyme, with a bit of a twist on the classic fairytale narrative. I think of it as a mash-up of Disney meets Wes Anderson. They were definitely my inspiration. I produced, directed, and starred in that one, so you could call it my pet project. It’s been my baby for the past two years. You can check it out on the Storyhive website or on their YouTube channel or on the Storyhive Facebook page. We’ve already had over 11,000 views, but I can’t wait for more people to see it. I really am proud of what the team put together.
Photo by Ian Redd of Vancouver Headshots: