Exclusive Interview with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s Annette Reilly


Photo Credit: Liz Rosa

Annette Reilly was a scene stealer as Diana Spellman on Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I got the chance to talk with her about how she got into acting originally, what’s on her acting bucket list, whether she is similar or different to Diana Spellman, what she’s nerding out about and so much more.

Tell me a little bit about how you got into acting originally. Was there a specific person or experience that you would credit with helping you decide that acting is what you wanted to do for a living?

I’ve known since I was a kid that I wanted to be a professional actor. I had moved to the small town of Hinton, Alberta, and I had no idea how it would happen or what to do, but I knew I wanted to be on screen and on the stage. I had a good friend in elementary school, Andrea Brassard, who was super into all things theatre and acting. Her passion was the thing that spurred my own. She found out about all these acting workshops in the big city of Edmonton, Alberta [laughs]. She would come home and tell me about all the artsy things she got to do, and I would listen intently and soak up as much as I could. I was thrilled when the local community theatre decided to do The Sound of Music, and I was cast in the role of Marta Von Trapp. When I walked out on that stage for the first time in front of a big audience, I was hooked. From that point on, I pursued acting wholeheartedly.

Do you have an acting “bucket list” of things you still want to accomplish in your career? If so, what are some of the things on it?

Oh gosh! I’ve never thought about it, but I suppose I do. 

I’ve actually just been cast as a vampire, so that can now be checked off my list. I love vampires, and I’ve always said that if I was going to do a horror movie I’d want to be a vampire. I would also love to be in an action film. However, I’m getting a little older and not sure if my body could take the punishment of doing a bunch of action [laughs]. What else… Oh! I want to be Meryl Streep’s daughter in a film. I want to go toe-to-toe with her and see how badly she kicks my butt [laughs]. 

On the theatre side of things, I want to walk the boards of the Globe Theatre in London as a performer. I would love to do a season at the Stratford Theatre in Ontario, Canada as well. 

As a director, I have yet to direct my first feature film. That is currently in the works and should be happening soon! I also want to bring Shakespeare to film in a way that no one has ever experienced it. This is in the experimental phase and hopefully will come to fruition soon!

Annette as Diana Spellman

Let’s talk about The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. What was your audition process like for the show?

The audition process was fairly simple. It was one audition with the casting director, which they taped and sent to the network for approval. My actual audition was kind of hilarious. I had a horrible morning. My kid was a mess, I was feeling under the weather, and I didn’t even brush my hair. I went into the room in a daze and just gave it everything I had left. It was actually quite therapeutic, looking back. I left the room feeling lighter and had a great rest of the day. 

Were you familiar with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina prior to landing the role? If not, did you go back and read any of the comics she was featured in as research?

I had no idea that there was a horror comic book based on the old Sabrina comics. I ordered one right away, as soon as I was cast. I read everything I could about the source material. I like to research and be as prepared as possible in everything I do. 

For our readers who haven’t seen the show, tell us about your character, Diana Spellman, and how she fits into the story.

Diana Spellman is Sabrina’s mortal mother. Sabrina has been told that her parents died in a plane crash. Diana keeps popping up in Sabrina’s visions, helping to guide her in the very important life choices she is about to make. 

Would you say that Diana is more similar or different to the person you are and why?

Oh, Diana is definitely more similar to me. I identified right away with this character. In the CAOS comic book, Diana protects her daughter fiercely with no regard for how her actions will affect her. She is stubborn, bold, and tenacious, but at the same time soft and nurturing. She cares deeply. This dual nature is very much within me as well. 

You popped up here and there throughout the first season, and most of your scenes involved Kiernan Shipka. What was it like working with her and creating that mother-daughter bond?

Kiernan is lovely and so easy to work with. We really didn’t have to work on the mother-daughter relationship. When the cameras are on, it’s just sort of there. We’re lucky that way. I think being a mother myself makes it easier for me to draw up my maternal instincts when acting. I’m not sure what Kiernan’s process is, but I would say it’s working

I personally love how dark the show is with all of the satanic rituals and dark magic. What’s it like being a part of all of that? Do you have a most memorable “ritual” that you got to either be a part of or watch them film?

They’ve been able to get so creative with these rituals! It’s been a really interesting process, coming onto the set and seeing what the writers and art department have come up with. There’s a ritual in season two that was fascinating to witness. However, I don’t think anything will beat the dark baptism for me. That was the first time I saw the goat-like satan character and the fire and the book… oh gosh, it was incredible. And creepy! [laughs] It was so beautiful and detailed, but so very dark. It gave me the chills to be present on that set. 

As I mentioned earlier, we don’t get to see a ton of Diana in the first season. Any chance we’ll get to see more of her in the next couple seasons, especially now that Netflix has picked up the show through season 4?

I really can’t comment on this one too much! Of course, I would love to see the whole story of the parents cracked open and explored to its fullest. From what I keep hearing, it seems the fans would like that too! We’ll all just have to wait and see….. 

Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd so what is something you nerd out about?

I’m always nerding out about something… Right at the moment, I’m nerding out over Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I cannot believe this game. It’s the addition to the Zelda series that I didn’t know I needed. Zelda is my favorite gaming franchise (followed closely by Pikmin), and my mind has been blown by this giant world that Nintendo brought us. Even the opening, when it shows the title for the first time as Link looks out over Hyrule… gah! It was gorgeous! Everyone needs to experience this game. I’m glad this is the last question because now I’m going to run home and play a bit before my life responsibilities kick in again [laughs]. 

Make sure you follow Annette on Twitter and Instagram.

Featured Photo Credit: Liz Rosa

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