With Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 2 spending a lot of time at the Academy of Unseen Arts, viewers were introduced to more of Sabrina Spellman's fellow witches and warlocks in the second half of the first season, including Elspeth, played by Emily Haine. A tenaciously brave witch who fights for what she believes in, Elspeth had one of the most intense character arcs of Part 2, and we had the great pleasure of catching up with Haine in our latest Q&A feature to discuss playing her intriguing character, working with her talented cast and crew, the devilish details of the Academy of Unseen Arts set pieces, and what she's looking forward to on the future of the show.
Thanks for taking the time to answer questions for us, Emily, and congratulations on your role as Elspeth in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina! What was the audition process like for the role of Elspeth?
Emily Haine: Thank you so much! My process going into the Elspeth audition was all about feeling confident in my work as an artist. The show is beloved and the cast are a fierce group of international talent, it’s both inspiring and intimidating. What can I offer? In order to step out of that feeling, I redirect my focus into creating a vivid image in my head of The Academy. Once I’m there, there is no audition, I’m in that world.
Were you a fan of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and/or the comic book series before joining the show?
Emily Haine: I loved Archie comics growing up, I had stacks of them. I didn’t know Greendale and Riverdale are neighboring towns until recently, though! Anyone notice the pizza boy crossover? ;) I heard about Sabrina before it aired because of it being filmed in my hometown of Vancouver, BC. I was double stoked to see the dark kink Roberto and the writers have laced into it. All the classic horror film symbology you can find, and the costumes? To die for. I am so proud I was invited to play, and clearly they are going to have to do more than kill me to get rid of me.
What do you enjoy the most about playing Elspeth?
Emily Haine: Being resurrected is an incredible feeling. As is flirting with the power that comes from being a witch.
There’s still a lot of mystery to your character. Have you come up with your own backstory for Elspeth?
Emily Haine: I felt Elspeth to be lost, with not many friends, maybe misunderstood. There’s something unique about her latent friendship with Sabrina, who saves her life, that makes being resurrected a chance at being more herself than ever before.
This season, your character spends a lot of time at the Academy of the Unseen Arts. Is there anything about that set in particular that you enjoy? As a viewer, it’s reminiscent of Hogwarts (albeit a darker and more dangerous version of Hogwarts).
Emily Haine: I got to see a gargoyle statue flow with blood. In Blackwood's office, there was a severed hand on a shelf and a book with teeth. Know that within every scene there are more details than could ever be revealed. The only explanation is magic!
You’re surrounded by an extraordinary cast on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. What has been your biggest takeaway from working with the cast and crew on this series?
Emily Haine: To believe in myself. They all made me feel so accepted. We even had a group meditation on set led by Lucy Davis. That, and if you work hard for your dreams, they can come true!
[Spoiler warning if you haven't seen Part 2.] You were part of one of the most pivotal scenes of the second half of this season, in which you and Melvin (Tyler Cotton) were killed, only to be resurrected by Sabrina. What was it like filming your own death and resurrection in the same scene?
Emily Haine: The miracles of Sabrina Spellman are bountiful! :) Chapter Seventeen was such an epic to film with the fire, the Missionaries, the Weird Sisters on stakes, I could go on! Elspeth stood with her fellow witches and lost her life in the crossfire. It was horrifying and tragic, yet oddly validating. Then to be brought back to life was bewildering, buoyant, and humbling. I carry that perspective with me.
[Spoiler warning if you haven't seen Part 2.] Now that Elspeth has been resurrected by Sabrina, do you feel like she has more of an allegiance to her over the Dark Lord and Father Blackwood?
Emily Haine: You nailed it. If you follow Elspeth’s story line over the second half of the season, you’ll see her confronted by the oppressive patriarchy of Father Blackwood’s Church of Judas. Like Sabrina, Elspeth rejects the idea of inequality and is forced to pay an unfair price for her beliefs. Their kinship is born in the ashes of injustice and it binds them together.
Looking back at your time on set this season, is there a favorite or funny moment that stands out?
Emily Haine: Honestly, when you put all these wicked folks in a room together, there are moments happening constantly:
Our on set singalongs led by Gavin or Ross on guitar, Abbey’s sideline characters she does between takes, getting some empowering love advice from Kiernan, Jaz, and Tati and watching Star Wars at lunch in Tyler’s trailer come to mind.
Meeting as many cast and crew as I could over four episodes and just getting to know everyone. Having the same AD as I did on Fargo. What up, Cory Faulkner!
Asking cast how they reacted when the learnt they had booked the show. Spoiler: we all cried.
Lastly (but not least-ly) getting to talk in depth about the show with the producers and Roberto and the writers, who have the coolest movie references!
Looking ahead to the future of Elspeth’s journey, what excites you the most?
Emily Haine: Elspeth is a badass chick ready to fight for her rights and stand up to those in power to invoke positive change. I want to see her explore the dark arts, delve into her inner strengths, and have a movie night with Sabrina!
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?
Emily Haine: Thanks for asking. I’m also part of a 10 episode miniseries that came out this year, Unspeakable, inspired by true events chronicling the tainted blood scandal in the ’80s. I play a scientist and a bit of comedic relief in a show about a horrific historical catastrophe.
Stream it now on SundanceTV.com in America and on CBC Gem in Canada. Thanks for the chat. :)
Photo below (and above) by Karolina Turek: