Kiernan Shipka has finally gotten around to watching what is widely considered one of the best shows of all time: Mad Men—despite, as you'll be quick to point out—the fact that it ended over four years ago and Shipka had a starring role on the series as Sally Draper, Don Draper's eldest child. The viewing has been a long time coming—and the good news is that Shipka liked the show just as much as everyone else. "I have now seen Mad Men," she says. "And I can say I'm a fan. It's a great show." So great, in fact, that she'd be more than down for a Sally Draper spin-off, all these years later. Of course, Shipka is already plenty busy playing everyone's favorite teenage witch, Sabrina Spellman on Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a dark retelling of the character from the creators of Riverdale. The show, which is currently filming its third season, has introduced a new generation to the iconic character—and introduced Shipka to the world of magic. Here, the 19-year-old talks playing the role, dabbling in magic herself, and why she wants to put a love spell on Shawn Mendes.
Were you aware of the first incarnation of Sabrina the Teenage Witch?
I knew of the first Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I feel like it's a pretty iconic television show, but I honestly didn't have much attachment to it. I didn't watch it growing up, so this Sabrina was kind of my first endeavor into the whole world. I was really focused on making it my own in any way that I could, and having it sort of be my one version of it in my life in a lot of ways. But I think there is sort of a certain amount of pressure and responsibility because the old show was so iconic and held such a place in people's hearts. I mean, the second that I got the show people were coming up to me and freaking out because the old show meant so much to them. So even if our show is a 180 from the '90s sitcom, there still is this sort of sense of you want to pay respect to what previously was the embodiment of Sabrina that everybody knew and loved. A lot.
Previous to getting this, what was your feeling about witchcraft?
I honestly didn't know much about witchcraft before starting on Sabrina. You have ideas of maybe ... I mean, I was in The Crucible. I saw a lot of horrible Crucible productions at high schools growing up and I feel like that was pretty much, my version of witchcraft in my head was pretty much the Salem witch trials. But then you realize that it's just dudes being scared of women and their power.
Since you've taken on this role have you had a different impression of what's possible with the supernatural, as it were?
Oh my gosh, yeah. I have learned a lot about witchcraft since being on the show, especially because in a lot of ways a lot of modern witchcraft and the way people practice is willing something to happen, it's the whole idea of manifestation and whatnot. I think, to a certain extent, we all kind of do that and I'm certainly a spiritual person and I believe in that kind of stuff. I can get woo-woo if I want to. I've gotten much more into astrology and all that kind of stuff since I've been on the show. It's really fun.
What sign are you?
I'm a Scorpio. So is Sabrina. I think I fit the Scorpio profile. We're pretty feisty and we're very determined. We sting but we're also extremely loyal friends. I would say that.
Do you feel younger now than you did when you were little?
I sometimes feel the youngest I've ever been, to be quite honest. It really is interesting because now is the first time that I've actually worked with people my own age. In a lot of ways I felt like I've sort of just grown into my maturity. I definitely, again, spent a lot of time around adults when I was young and had a mature nature to me, but I think at the same time it's so important to be young and to feel young, and sometimes a little stupid, and make mistakes, and live your life. I feel young in the best way possible, and I also feel grounded and hopefully a little self-possessed in a mature way. It's all about the balance.
Last time I saw you, you had only seen a few episodes of Mad Men. Have you now watched Mad Men?
I have now seen Mad Men. And I can say I'm a fan. It's a great show. It is a weird feeling to watch yourself.
You had a lisp then which you got rid of on your own, which is still astonishing to me.
I did have a lisp and I didn't know I had a lisp back then until the one time I Google myself, first thing that comes up is "Kiernan Shipka lisp." I was like, "What's a lisp?" Then I learned exactly what it was. I'm not going to lie, I think it was pretty adorable. No, it is weird going back and watching the show because oftentimes I forget that I'm in it completely. When I'm watching a scene that I'm not in I'm completely in on these characters and this world that I actually felt like I didn't really have a huge part of. The office space and whatnot. So all of that is kind of new to me, I don't really have many memories attached to that in a lot of ways. But, it is fun to watch. Especially just to be proud of it and feel a part of it, because like I said, I am a really big fan.
I wish there'd be a continuation.
I'm down for a Sally spin-off. I mean, there's still time.
Did you have a favorite toy growing up?
I had a bear that I got at Starbucks named Mandy. One day I lost Mandy and it was really, really, really sad. I remember exactly what happened. I don't even know what the name of this is but on the side of the streets those kind of grates that go down. I sobbed for hours crying for Mandy. Just like Barry Manilow but in a totally different way. I was shaken and so, so, so sad. I hope she's doing well in the sewer. However she dissolved. She meant a lot to me. I had a lot of American Girl dolls too. I totally took ownership of those dolls. I cut their hair, I gave them their own lives. They lived great lives to be quite honest. I gave my American Girl dolls to my younger cousin Delia and she loves them. Their hair, she's like, "Why is their hair all badly cut?" That was my doing.
Then I also feel like it's not a toy, but I grew up in the age of Club Penguin, which was an online website in which you created your own penguin and socialized with other penguins. It was kind of like The Sims in a way. And my penguin was named WinterSnow55.
What was your favorite film growing up?
My favorite film growing up was The Wizard of Oz or Air Bud. I have not given Air Bud a watch in a really long time and I really feel like I should, because I could probably still say all the dialog from that movie.
Did you have posters in your room growing up?
I had a poster of Dylan and Cole Sprouse, and I know them now so it's kind of weird. I wanted to be on Disney so badly growing up. It was the only thing I watched. Of course I'm on one of the best television shows ever and I'm like, "I want to be on Disney Channel so badly." But I really did, and I auditioned once for Cory in the House, which is a That's So Raven spin-off starring Kyle Massey and Madison Pettis, and I didn't get the role and I was really upset. Like really, really upset. I remember I was at Build-A-Bear when I found out that I got the audition and so excited. On the way home in the car I'm screaming out the window to people, "I'm going to be on Cory in the House! Watch me on Cory in the House!" Never happened. It's okay.
Did you read Archie or the Sabrina comic books that you're a part of?
I read Betty and Veronica growing up. Sabrina was never my girl growing up for some reason. But then once I got the show I read some of the old comics and I read the most recent comic which the show is loosely based off of.
Who did you want to be, Betty or Veronica?
It was always the debate, who am I, Betty or Veronica? But I think at the end of the day I had blonde hair, I identified with Betty in that kind of way. But Veronica's a pretty good name.
Do you ever meet other Kiernans?
I've still never met another Kiernan. I think I've met one or two people with Kiernan as their last name, but I've never met someone with the first name Kiernan before. I am named after practically nothing. My mom knew someone in college that she said had the last name Kiernan and she kind of liked it, and then here we go. Here I am. A lot of people call me Kiki, though. Now the Drake song's out that goes, "Kiki, do you love me?" So it's been the past year of getting in Ubers and they're like, "I like your song, by the way." It's been the bane of my existence, but in a good way.
What is your karaoke song?
My karaoke song go-to at moment for a duet is "Shallow," if I can get someone to be Bradley in it. But if I'm going solo "A Thousand Miles" by Vanessa Carlton, "Mr. Brightside" by The Killers, and anything Britney Spears. "Toxic" is great if you're feeling feisty. Like if you really want to give people a run for their money.
What's your favorite of all your Halloween costumes?
I wanted desperately to be Catwoman when I saw Halle Berry as Catwoman, and I somehow managed to get a really crazy- looking Catwoman costume. So I would say my Catwoman costume when I was probably five is still my favorite Halloween costume. I also went as St. Vincent one year. It was kind of based off of the "Now, Now" phase, like that album where she had the really curly brown hair. It was super wild and I painted my face with like, freckles, and put a wig on. It was really fun, it actually looked really, really good. I should've taken an electric guitar around, that would have been really good. She is truly one of the greatest guitar players, I think, of this generation.
Do you want to be a musician?
I would love to make music. I really would. I love singing.
Who are your crushes these days?
I feel like my cinematic crushes are still like a super young Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. In the music world, I'm pretty much 100% in on the Shawn Mendes craze. I am all about it. I love him. I think I'm going to see him in Vancouver when he comes there in June or July. I love "Lost in Japan." I love "Where Were You in the Morning?"He has a whole album of remixes of "Where Were You in the Morning?," and they're all so good. Then the old Shawn Mendes stuff like "Life of the Party" and "Never Be Alone," also big fan.
So as Sabrina, because we're going to now fix you up with Shawn Mendes, how would you put like a hex on him? What would you do?
I would say love potion. But honestly that kind of feels like cheating and I mean love potion would be very easy, go get a coffee or something. Do a little sneaky love potion action.I think hexes maybe can be positive as well, but some sort of spell. I would want to do some sort of spell that would just put that energy out there that Shawn Mendes and I are meant to be. I don't know. Now it's truly never going to happen.