Kiernan Shipka Explains Why Salem Doesn't Talk in 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' (Exclusive)

Cat got your tongue? Only ET has the exclusive scoop straight from 'Brina about why Salem doesn't speak in the new Netflix drama!

Welcome, witches!

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has officially been summoned to your Netflix queue and now that you’ve had a taste of the bewitching brew, it’s time to discuss everyone’s favorite feline: Salem.

In the original iterations of Sabrina the Teenage Witch – both the Archie comics series and the Melissa Joan Hart TV series of the ‘90s – the character of Salem Saberhagen was once a warlock, who was turned into a cat as punishment by the magical realm’s witches’ council for plotting to take over the world.

However, when it comes to this new Netflix reboot, the powers-that-be on Sabrina have added a few new fur-raising twists when it comes to the mythology of this ferocious character.

The first change is that every young witch or warlock in the Church of Night must choose a "familiar" to act as their magical companion and protector before the Dark Baptism.

What exactly is a familiar? Well, according to Aunt Zelda in the Chilling pilot, "Familiars are goblins who have taken on the shape of animals to better serve their witch masters."

That’s right. Goblins.

Rather than selecting a familiar from a catalog because it felt too "dehumanizing," Sabrina decides to cast a summoning spell. Later that night, a dark figure with menacing eyes arrived in Sabrina’s bedroom.


"Sabrina – I heard you calling in the woods and I came," the goblin whispered before changing into the form of a sweet black cat.

But here’s the biggest change in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Salem doesn’t speak!

Well, not as much as the sassy and snarky Salem in the brightly lit ‘90s television series, that is. Aside from their initial introduction in Sabrina's bedroom, audiences do not hear Salem’s voice again at all in the 10-episode season. Instead, Salem will simply meow at Sabrina and the young witch knows what he’s saying.

To get to the bottom of this cat-got-your-tongue change, ET sat down with 'Brina herself, star Kiernan Shipka, earlier this month at a Netflix junket in New York and asked her to reveal the behind-the-scenes secrets of this quite new twist.

"I know the original Salem [from Sabrina the Teenage Witch] is like a meme because he’s so sassy and fun, but I feel like that’s probably its own iconic thing," the 18-year-old actress explained. "It’s cool that we’re doing something that’s slightly more different because I don’t think that you could compare to that at all, so I was happy."

"It just felt very in line with the show too to be a little more, like, subtle but still sort of there. It felt like just the right balance," the blonde beauty continued, "And I mean all three of [the cats who play Salem] are stars: Shaq and Boomer and Edward. They are always on. They're scene-stealers! You’re going to get upstaged by them."

Shipka also spilled one more spellbinding secret about what she discovered while finding her onscreen bond with Salem. "I’m pretty allergic to cats," she revealed with a laugh.

What do you think, witches? Do wish that Salem talked or do you like that he’s more of the strong and silent type? Which animal would you want as your familiar? Cast your spell and share your comments with @LeanneAguilera on Twitter!

Part one of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is streaming now on Netflix.



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