‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’: Tati Gabrielle on Part 2, Feeling Cat-Like as Prudence, & Crafting Backstory

     April 13, 2019

chilling-adventures-of-sabrina-tati-gabrielle-abigail-cowen-adeline-rudolphIn Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Part 2 (available to stream at Netflix), Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) is finding her place in the darker, sexier witch world, now that she’s left her human friends behind and signed the Book of the Beast, which has changed her life and her hair in noticeable ways. While Sabrina is curious to learn more about her heritage, it causes a strain on her life in the mortal world, pushing her further away from Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch) and into the arms of warlock Nicholas Scratch (Gavin Leatherwood).

During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, Tati Gabrielle (who plays devout witch Prudence, the de facto leader of the trio of Weird Sisters) talked about how much she enjoys playing a character so different from herself, the fun of being bad, the freedom she’s had in helping develop Prudence’s backstory, what she loves about her character, how much the fantastic wardrobe helps her performance, how the Weird Sisters are ride or die, getting to delve into witch traditions, and what she’d still like to explore, in the future.

Collider:  I love this show because it just has so many ridiculously fun characters on it, any of which could have their own spin-off series and it would be just as fun as the series that they’re already on. Is this character that’s as much fun to play as it seems like it would be?

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Image via Netflix

TATI GABRIELLE:  Definitely! At first, I felt weird about certain things ‘cause I’m pretty much the complete opposite of Prudence. I’m a very happy-go-lucky person. Even my voice is quite different. There would be scenes where I would be like, “[Kiernan], I’m so sorry.” And she’d be like, “Stop, it’s fine.” And then, as I got into it, I was like, “Okay, it’s kinda fun being bad.” I definitely have a lot of fun being all sneaky.

It seems like it would be really fun to be bad when you can just blame it on a script, and then go home afterwards.

GABRIELLE:  Exactly! “That wasn’t me! What do you mean?! They wrote it. What do you want me do?” Yeah, it can be pretty exhilarating, especially with the orgies and things like that. These are never things that I do, in my real life. It’s fun to live on a different side of the grass for awhile.

When this opportunity first came your way, what were you told about the character, who she would be, and how she would fit into this world? Were you given a lot of details about her, or have you been able to fill in some of those blanks, the way that you wanted to?

GABRIELLE:  It’s been a bit of both. When I first got the role, once I officially booked it, I called Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa], our showrunner, and I had written down a million questions to ask him about her backstory. As I was going through all of the questions with him, he was like, “I love that you came with all of this ready, and I’m so happy that you’re so excited, but we’re not that far yet.” It did give me a lot of creative freedom to create my own backstory and try to fill in the blanks, where I needed them. I definitely had room to play, and Roberto is always so open and welcoming to ideas. If we have a thought about something, we can just pick up the phone and call him and he’ll be like, “You know, I didn’t think of it like that,” and he’ll work with us on it. I definitely had a lot of freedom.

What have you loved about who Prudence is, from day one, and what have you grown to appreciate about her, the longer you’ve played her and gotten to know more about her?

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Image via Netflix

GABRIELLE:  From day one, I loved that she was just this no BS chick. She’s the ruler of her own world. That’s something that, as time went on, I also took into my own life. She was born with nothing. She was an orphan, and she created her own place, for herself, in the word. She has fought against adversity. She’s take shit from anyone. She’s literally a rags to riches story. I didn’t want to make her a two-dimensional mean girl character. I wanted her to always be coming from a place, whether that was a place of anger, fear, betrayal, just seeking power, or whatever it was, and as I dove into her, I found those little pieces and parts. It started to make me look at the way that I looked at people, in my everyday life. There are the people that you see in the grocery store that are grumpy and who seem like they hate their job, but something might have happened, in their life, to set this bitterness in their soul. So, it started out with just loving that she was a bad-ass, but it moved to loving that she wasn’t gonna let herself stay at her bottom. She birthed this bad-ass by herself, and then took that and ran with it.

I also love the wardrobe that pretty much everybody on this show has, and would sneak off with pretty much anything that you guys get to wear. How much does Prudence’s style, her look and her appearance affect and influence your performance? Does it even change the way that you carry yourself, when you’re playing her?

GABRIELLE:  Definitely! It’s to the point where it’s actually quite hard for me to do Prudence when I’m not in the costume and make-up. ADR for Prudence has been the hardest ADR that I’ve ever had to do. It makes me stand in a certain way and move more cat like. That’s what I’ve attributed her spirit animal to be, like a panther. Whenever you put on a fancy dress to go out, it makes you feel like a different person, and that’s what the costuming on this show has done. It brings out something else in me, and that’s where Prudence lives.

This show is definitely my vibe, in general.

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Image via Netflix

GABRIELLE:  And it takes us back to an old time, which was the biggest thing for me. While we look like teenagers, all of the witches are over 50 years old. Ambrose is around the age of 90, and Prudence is around the age of 75. Being put in these vintage style clothes brings not only the witchiness and the poise, but also the nostalgia and feeling like I’m in a different time, and bringing that old soul into Prudence, as well.

Is that something that you think about a lot, while you’re playing her? Do you think about the age that she actually is, as opposed to how she looks?

GABRIELLE:  Definitely because the aging experience changes the reasoning behind your actions. Having a orgy is a lot different for a teenage girl than it is for a 75-year-old woman having her last go at life, right before she’s about to die. It forms things differently. If we acted like teenagers, some things would carry a lot less weight, so it’s definitely something that I always try to keep in mind.

We know that Prudence has a bit of a grudge against Sabrina for being half-mortal, but it also seems like she’s coming to respect her a bit more. Do you think that’s why we see them working together a bit more now, instead of Prudence just always trying to toy with Sabrina?

GABRIELLE:  Yeah, definitely. Prudence aligns with Sabrina when it fits her own agenda for power, but I do think that it has a lot to do with the fact that Sabrina has got a lot of grit. Prudence can’t help but respect that because she’s the girl that made a way for herself. While she doesn’t like Sabrina, due to her heritage, she also knows that Sabrina doesn’t back down from a challenge, which is a big reason for why she chooses to align with her.

Will that evolving relationship between affect her relationship with the Weird Sisters, or are they always ride or die?

GABRIELLE:  I feel like the Weird Sisters are always ride or die because they’re the only family that they’ve ever had. When you’ve been with somebody since you were born, you’ve pretty much grown up with them, and they’re all you’ve known, that’s a bond that’s very hard to break. I don’t think that there will ever be a true split. Sisters quarrel and butt heads, like we’ve seen the Weird Sisters do, but I don’t think that there’ll ever be a point where they will disband completely. It’d have to be something very serious to make that happen.

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Image via Netflix

Being a witch and the rituals involved with that seem really important to Prudence. In Season 1, we got to see the Feast of Feasts and what participating in that means, and now we get to see the Lupercalia and what that’s like. How fun is it to not only get to play a witch, but to also really delve into traditions, rituals and mythology?

GABRIELLE:  I think it’s awesome. I’ve learned so much about the Wiccan culture from doing this. I wanted to do a lot of research, prior to really getting into the role, because somebody’s belief system and the way that they look at the world has a lot to do with forming the foundations of their persona. It’s been really incredible to learn that people think witches think bad, evil things, but the sole belief of Wiccans is in mother nature. They believe in aligning with nature, as it’s a part of our own soul, and that we support the Earth and the Earth supports us. Their belief in a free soul is an incredible thing to live out and experience. Learning their mythology, their culture, and their traditional foundations has been truly fascinating. It’s definitely made me look at certain things about the world in a different way, in my everyday life. It’s also made me scared, at certain points, especially ‘cause some of the spells that we do are real spells. I get freaked out sometimes, when I go home at night, thinking that a demon is gonna be lurking at the corner of my room. But it’s been really cool, overall.

In Season 2, we also see Prudence trying to find her place within a family, with Father Blackwood and wanting to take his name. How hard is it for her to make herself vulnerable, in that way, and then not get what she wants from him?

GABRIELLE:  It’s not hard to make herself vulnerable. It’s hard to not let it show because that particular situation for Prudence brings her back to being a little girl. Any orphan wants to know not only where they came from, but what it would like to be claimed as part of a family. If anything, that’s the soft part of her soul, in general. Father Blackwood denying her really picks at that wound. The challenge for Prudence is to keep it together and not want to ball like a baby. It’s about trying to stand her ground and get what she wants.

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