In his role as Nicholas Scratch on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Gavin Leatherwood has had to put up with a lot. So far in the series three-part run, he’s been — spoiler alert — attacked by a werewolf, possessed by Satan and, for lack of a better phrase, “involved” with sex demons. These might seem like a lot to deal with for most people, but for Leatherwood, it’s all part of the game… and he’s happy to play along.
“Surprisingly, [there’s] not much of a heads up,” says Leatherwood, referencing getting ready for the aforementioned sex demon and devil possession scenes. “We get the script typically a week in advance before we start shooting an episode. The preparation was developing trust and a friendly nature with the other actors on the day of the scene.”
However, though somewhat the norm in CAOS, doing dramatic and unsettling scenes like these is a far cry from Leatherwood’s acting origins. “I got my start in acting by growing up around the theatre,” the 25-year-old actor remembers. “My mom was a general manager of a theatre company, and I eventually started doing plays. I caught the bug and fell in love.”
Following those small plays, Leatherwood then featured in various episodes of network series in the years leading up to his first portrayal of Nick Scratch, but it was CAOS that gave him his big break. He had originally intended to read for the role of Harvey, but during the audition, it became clear that his calling was to be found in another role. “David Rapaport, the casting director, told me that Nick Scratch was the most confident person in the room, so when I went into the audition, I kept that in mind,” Leatherwood shares.
That was about two years ago. CAOS premiered its highly-anticipated “Part Three” on Netflix back in late January and though currently halted, the show continues production on “Part Four.” Amidst all, Leatherwood is happy that he can look back on such a wild and interesting journey. Part Four, he says, will continue that journey in ways the audience might not expect. “[There are] definitely some more steamy/intimate moments on their way in Part Four,” he spills. “In Part Four, we definitely see everyone utilizing their special skills and talents in order to handle and take on the Eldritch terrors. These terrors are a kind of villain that requires the efforts of everyone to band together.”
This also requires some personal exploration for Nick. “I think he’s a bit lost and confused about where his heart stands,” explains Leatherwood. “Mostly what he’s looking for right now is a way to reassert himself with normality in the witch community. He just needs a friend.” Nick also has the impact of the Time Egg to deal with, a plot element Leatherwood says required “several questions and a bit of homework” to follow.
But as Nick enters these new and unfamiliar territories, Leatherwood continues to build him as a character, incorporating that “most confident person in the room” sense of conviction while still leaving room for vulnerability and unpredictability. Doing this, he says, allows him to embody the character more fully. “I feel like after playing [Nick] for two seasons now, I know him well enough to know what he’s thinking and feeling throughout most scenes,” Leatherwood states. “Funny how that happens after spending so much time with a character.”
“I’m much more of a goofball than Nick Scratch,” he continues, “[but] I feel like my approach has been pretty consistent towards Nick. I try to find a level of empathy to understand where he’s coming from and what he’s feeling and how to continue developing him emotionally as he battles his inner demons and — literally — goes through hell and back.”
Overcoming all of these trials and tribulations, both as a character and as an actor, can be particularly difficult. It’s one of the reasons why Leatherwood lists endurance as one of the biggest challenges facing him during his work on CAOS. “Working on a TV show for ten months requires a certain discipline and patience that I feel like I’ve learned over the past couple of years while working on the show,” he shares.
That doesn’t mean the cast and crew can’t have fun, and Leatherwood is quick to note that shooting the show has plenty of ups. “I loved it when we had big days on set when we were all shooting at the carnival,” he recalls. “The set was so fun and elaborate, and on days where we shot there, it kind of felt like we were going to an actual carnival. Plus, the farm full of cute animals right next door added to the joy.”
While some potential upcoming projects are on hold due to the ongoing concerns surrounding the coronavirus, for now, Leatherwood is content to socially distance himself in his childhood home. “Nature definitely brings the pressure down,” he confesses. “I’ve been lucky enough to spend time in Oregon with my family, avoiding going in public and reading a lot in the sun.” And once this is all over, Leatherwood is full of hope for his next great adventure. “[I’m] truly just happy to be alive and excited for whatever unexpected journey shall unfold in the future.”
“The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is available to stream exclusively on Netflix.
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