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Gavin Leatherwood Talks To Us About The Comic Book Aesthetic Of ‘Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina’

Netflix’s Riverdale spinoff, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, has (so far) managed not to ruin your childhood while bringing the Archie comic book series of the same name to life on the small screen. That’s quite a feat, especially considering how Riverdale has arguably jumped the shark numerous times during its run. Part Three will see Kiernan Shipka’s teenage witch following up on the infernal threats of the sophomore season. That round ended with Sabrina Spellman’s warlock boyfriend, Nicholas Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood), valiantly sacrificing himself to the Dark Lord in her place.

This season, Sabrina fights to bring Nick back from Hell, but not all is smooth sailing after the horrors that he experienced. Gavin was gracious enough to talk with us about Nick’s fate and the consistently gorgeous visuals on this TV show. We also couldn’t help but ask him about that Netflix promotional video where he sensually basted a turkey for the fans. Praise Satan (!) that Gavin’s got a healthy and self-deprecating sense of humor.

I finished watching the third season last night, so this chat is good timing.

Oooh, can we spoil stuff or not?

We can’t go too deep but can touch on a few things. I will say that this is the first time that I’ve talked to an actor who filmed a cinematic turkey-basting video.

Oh noooooo. [Laughs] It’s still around, isn’t it?

Was the reaction to that video everything that you expected?

It was so silly, and I knew it would probably follow me further than it should. It was so fun and funny and offbeat. It was one of the first promotional things that I filmed with Netflix, and I had no idea what to expect. They were like, “Hey, Thanksgiving is coming up, and for a part of promotion, we want you to baste a turkey.” And I was like, “Okay, sure!” The stuff that you didn’t see was all of the really weird stuff in between that didn’t work. I think I slapped the turkey at one point and had a full-on conversation with it. There was whipped cream at some point. It was such an odd and funny thing to make.

The unseen stuff you mentioned probably would have been overkill.

Yeah, I think the final video went just far enough.

Meanwhile this season, the show remains a real visual treat. The sets are just so lush and horrific but beautiful — somehow dark and well lit.

You know, it’s crazy. I totally agree with you. I feel like every frame, like every establishing frame looks like a comic book. Our lighting guy, Craig Powell, and the cinematographers just do an incredible job, and our whole crew, they’re the unsung heroes and are so good at making magic happen with the set design. Everyone’s just kind of top notch. When I brought people to come and visit the sets, they always say that they feel smaller, which I think is an odd observation. They do feel massive onscreen, and maybe they’re a little bit smaller in person, but the level of detail on each set is so incredibly immersive that it just makes the job so much easier to dive into the world. In Sabrina’s bedroom, if you look in drawers, there’s little mementos and trinkets that Sabrina would absolutely have, and if you pause when we’re in her bedroom, and you pause midscreen, you can see the kind of art that she has on walls.

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And there are actual Clive Barker paintings on the walls of the Academy of Unseen Arts. Were you familiar with his art beforehand?

No, but I definitely became a fan after seeing the paintings. They’re incredibly dark bits of art but beautiful — like, beautifully haunting and eerie and disturbing — and they’re easy to get lost in. In between takes or something, you might find find me staring deep into the paintings and wondering how that came from some wild man’s imagination and onto paper.

You’ve called yourself a dork before, so I bet you nerd out over those paintings.

Certainly! It doesn’t take me much to nerd out over something.

Okay, so your character went to Hell in the last season finale while sacrificing himself for Sabrina. Did that surprise you, given that he’s not mortal and therefore new to the boyfriend thing?

Yeah, that surprised me in a good way. I liked seeing that the character went to that place. I felt like it was very heroic and painted Nick as this bad ass, sacrificial kind-of character. It was fun to play, for him to be a hero.

And how are things going for Nick this season? Any regrets?

As anyone might suspect, having the Devil inside of you definitely takes its toll, one way or another. He’s been carried off to Hell by Madame Satan, and she’s definitely not one of the most trustworthy characters. Imagine that he’s going to come back a little twisted, perhaps, and his coping mechanisms could very well be questionable as well. He tries to figure out how to balance and resolve things, and you will see some struggling within his character.

Things have changed a lot for Nick, far beyond being part of a love triangle. How do you think he’s evolving as a character since the series began?

Definitely, it’s been totally rewarding as an actor to be able to have an arc like that. This is the most consistent that I’ve ever worked on a TV show and with a character. And I didn’t really know what the plan was for Nick at first. I thought maybe he’d pop on and be this expositional kind-of character or something, but he’s grown to such an incredible degree that’s been challenging and fun to develop and just overall very rewarding to be able to play.

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You Instagram a lot of photos of the cast, who all seem to genuinely appreciate each other’s company. Who are you closest to out of all of them?

Right now, I would probably say Sam [Corlett], who plays Caliban, a new character in season three. When he came out here, he and I just hit it off. We have a lot of similar routines and thoughts and we just click, and he and I can spend lots of time together, making dinner and hanging out and sharing music and meditation and films and all that jazz. He’s my buddy right now.

Speaking of social media, you’re kind of a reluctant tweeter. And you tweeted that your manager told you to tweet more. Was that true?

That was 100% true. He literally sent me a text that said, “Hey, you should tweet more. You should write a tweet today.” So I just wrote a tweet that said, “My manager told me I should tweet more.” [Laughs]

Well, you’ve been following those instructions.

Honesty really is the best way to go, though!

When you watch Netflix, do you prefer to bingewatch or move more slowly?

You know, I really do believe that it depends on the show, but I am typically a binger. And it’s hard to binge while you’re making a TV show. I’ve discovered this. Films are easier to watch while we’re filming something, but when there’s downtime, like when we have a couple of weeks. Even a good weekend, I can get a good binge in. I had a few days off this past week, and I binged the crap out of You. I watched the entire first season in like a day, maybe two days.

That’s a hardcore binge. Now, is there anything that you would watch but wouldn’t admit to unless I pressed you on it?

No, I’m a pretty open book. I would tell you anything. I will say that my guilty pleasure watch that I didn’t understand for a long time… everyone was just like obsessed with Queer Eye for a moment? I was like, I just wanna watch acting and stuff and stories and all that, and then I watched one episode of Queer Eye, and I didn’t stop until I watched all of them. So that probably distracted me from life for just a moment. It was worth it.

Let’s sign off here with this: if you had any advice to offer Nicholas Scratch this season, what would it be?

Wow, hmm. I’d say that the best coping device for him would be the ear of a friend and to communicate. Something along those lines.

It does sound like he needs to talk, but we’ll see how it goes for him.

We will, won’t we? Ooh, and to not ignore his feelings but to respect them. You can put that in there, too.

Netflix’s ‘Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina: Part Three’ streams on January 24.

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