After three seasons of watching Lili Reinhart play the super sleuthing, Nancy Drew-esque, iconic ponytail-wearing Betty Cooper on CW’s Riverdale, it’s hard to imagine anyone else cracking the Black Hood code. But, as a matter of fact, someone else almost did. Turns out one half of Bughead was almost played by fellow Riverdale universe star Kiernan Shipka.
Ahead of Shipka’s debut as Sabrina Spellman in Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the executive producer of both shows, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, told Entertainment Weekly that he was so interested in working with Shipka that the idea of having her play a role in the Archie comics reboot initially crossed his mind.
“Kiernan was iconic in Mad Men, and I had even thought about her, I was like, ‘Oh I wonder if she’d ever do Betty,'” Aguirre-Sacasa said, though the part ultimately went to Reinhart.
When Sabrina got the green light from Netflix, though, Aguirre-Sacasa heard from his casting director that Shipka might be interested in the lead and the opportunity for them to work together presented itself again. “There was no script at the time, but from the second he said that, for me it was sort of like, ‘Okay, she’s Sabrina. I’m writing this for Kiernan.'”
Much like its sister series Riverdale, Sabrina, premiering on October 26, will be dark and nothing like the ‘90s comedy many of us grew up loving. From full-out devil worshipping to an Exorcist-inspired episode, this iteration will have plenty of horror elements pulsing through it. Fortunately, it will also feature plenty of feminist moments, according to Shipka, who cited this as one of the reasons she was drawn to the role in an interview with Vulture.
“[Before this] I was sort of like a frustrated actor,” Shipka said. “When Sabrina came along, “I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is heaven.’ I’m obsessed with everything about it.”
Seems like it all worked out for the best, and now fans have two fearless, feminist, evil-fighting blondes to root for in the Riverdale universe.