This isn’t the article for you, kneejerk remake/reboot haters. “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” is heading to the big screen, according to Deadline, and we couldn’t be more excited. Of course it will be updated and modernized and inevitably, “edgier” than its 1960s Archie Comics origins, and undoubtedly quite a bit darker than the 1990s long-running sitcom starring Melissa Joan Hart was as well, but it still sounds like it could be really fun.
The film will be re-imagined as more of a superhero origin tale, but will still follow Sabrina Spellman as a teenager who discovers her lineage and powers for the first time. Her beloved sidekick, Salem the talking black cat, will be back as well, but he, too, is changed, and will be “a transformed prince creating unique love stories for Sabrina.” I’m not really sure what that entails, but I do hope a Salem/Sabrina romance isn’t in the works and her nice-guy soulmate Harvey shows up along the way somewhere.
Even with the edgier tone, we expect Sabrina to be the funny, precocious and resourceful teenage witch she’s always been, maybe just with a more modern, twisted sense of humor. Sony is said to be looking to “discover” an unknown actress to take on the titular role, and here are five suggestions from us. You may have heard of some of them already, but they are all still on the rise and still waiting for that big breakout franchise role, and, more importantly, any of them would be more than capable of bringing “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” to life on the big screen for a new generation.
Fifteen year old Hailee Steinfeld may be the most age-appropriate choice on our list, but hey, it’s hard to find teenage actors who have shown the talent and charisma needed to carry a major studio feature. Of course, Steinfeld herself is an exception to that rule, having been plucked from obscurity by the Coen Brothers to star in “True Grit”, her first film role that led her all the way to an Oscar nomination. And her role as Mattie Ross certainly showed she has the gumption and subtle comedic talents needed to pull off a teenage witch coming of age and dealing with her new powers.
Sometimes dubbed “the next Emma Stone”, Jane Levy certainly does share some things in common with America’s newest sweetheart, including keen comedic timing and a sardonic wit. While Stone herself also seems rather perfect to play an edgier version of the squeaky clean Sabrina, Levy displays plenty of that ability every week on her ABC sitcom “Suburgatory”, and will benefit more from being “discovered” by a major studio. And while she may be committed to TV (the show is a hit!) she’s found plenty of time to do movies, including taking on the female lead in Sam Raimi’s “Evil Dead” reboot.
Britt Robertson has got the precocious teenager thing down pat, as shown in her role as orphaned Lux on the CW’s short-lived “Life Unexpected”, and she knows a thing or two about tapping into the edgier side of magic as a teenage witch on the same network’s current “Secret Circle.” The show is on the bubble and may not be renewed for a second season, so Robertson could be free soon to explore a movie career. And there’s really no need to worry about typecasting, as shows that only run for one season (minus a “My So-Called Life” or two) aren’t remembered for very long.
One young actress who has been getting tons of notice lately is Haley Bennett, one time stuck in mindless bad teen movies like “The Hautning of Molly Hartley”. But when Terrence Malick cast her as one of the female leads in his follow-up to “The Tree Of Life”, she suddenly became one to watch. While she’s the oldest on our list at 24, she still looks as youthful as a teenager and is obviously not above playing younger than her age, as she fought to the very end to play teenage horror icon “Carrie” before losing out to Chloe Moretz. Sabrina is a bit of a lighter character, but Bennett has shown comedic chops in her previous work too. Who remembers slutty-spiritual pop star Cora Corman in Hugh Grant rom-com “Music & Lyrics”?
If you saw “The Descendants”, you would have to agree just how brilliantly Shailene Woodley would play Sabrina. Her “Descendants” character Alex took precocious maybe a bit further than Sabrina would ever go, but Woodley demonstrated a wonderful and dark sardonic wit, a slowly revealed sense of inner strength, and commanded the screen opposite George Clooney. And her real life personality is just about as bubbly and happy as Alex was angry. All this to say, the girl’s got range, and a combination of her own personality plus a bit of the edginess she brought to “The Descendants” is a recipe for the perfect Sabrina.
These are just a few of our ideas on who should play Sabrina. Who would you like to see take on the role?