Netflix’s ‘Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina’ has been one of the most highly anticipated television releases this year - and Chance Perdomo, who stars as Ambrose Spellman, has become a beloved part of the new show.
He plays the brooding warlock Ambrose, who not only brings comedy to the very dark reinvention of the show, but also his own storyline that is equally as fascinating.
We spoke with Chance Perdomo between filming days for the show’s upcoming second season to talk about what fans can expect from the next season, as well as the importance of having a character like Ambrose Spellman on screens today…
...if you can understand what drives a character and the universality behind their emotions, then so will the audience, because we are all driven by similar things. Even if we’re not all driven by the same things, we’ve been driven by the same things once upon a time, and I think that kind of gives people a cathartic effect when a character succeeds or fails or triumphs...
COUP DE MAIN: Hi Chance! How’s your day going so far?
CHANCE PERDOMO: My day’s been great so far, just had a read-through for Episode 19 out of 20 [for ‘Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina’], so that’s all good.
CDM: How exciting that you’re up to episode 19 out of 20 for the new season, that’s very close to the end!
CHANCE: Yeah, we’re really ripping through it. It certainly is kind of bittersweet, you kind of get emotional at the read-throughs now because you know there’s only a while left up until the finale. I must just say, I love your accent by the way! I don’t know many New Zealanders, but I have my iPhone Siri set to have an Australian accent because that’s the one as close as I can find! <laughs>
CDM: I’m like your real-life Siri. I have my Siri set to a British male accent, so we are basically talking to each other’s Siris today!
CHANCE: That’s freaky! We’re like real-life doppelgängers. Like counterparts.
CDM: Obviously you’ve nearly finished filming Season 2 of the ‘The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina’. I know you can’t reveal anything plot-wise, so in a more general, day-to-day sense, what do you think Season 2 will have in store for Ambrose?
CHANCE: Season 2 for Ambrose… I think you’ve seen the beginnings to finding his past. Ambrose has a lot of mystery, but his past begins to bubble up to the surface, and for lack of a better word, bite him in the ass. He has to determine who he is moving forward in his new world that he is yet to live in for basically a human lifetime, 75 years. So he has to reconcile things with his past, but also determine what that means for directing the future - without giving too much away. But yeah, it certainly gets dark for dear old Ambrose.
CDM: What first caught your eye about the script for ‘The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina’ when you found out about it?
CHANCE: The dialogue of Ambrose. I originally saw him, and when I played for my audition, like a caricature of a Johnny Depp-ish character, like a Captain Jack Sparrow in a way. The way he spoke, there was so much movement for play and narrating of the syntax and why he says things the way he does. He was very careful with his words and it lends itself very well with being able to dissect the character through their speech patterns. Ambrose’s speech patterns tend to be quite erratic, especially at the beginning, because you kind of get to know who he is and it kind of adds a layer to the mystery. Also, I haven’t seen a character like Ambrose before, to have somebody who is not only a person of colour, but part of the LGBTQ+ community at the same time - being in the forefront, rather than being in the background, or playing a stereotype.
CDM: Ambrose in the original version of the Archie comics was a middle-aged man with a moustache, so it was so exciting to see you play this entirely new character! Did this give you the opportunity to bring your own ideas and views to who Ambrose should be?
CHANCE: <laughs> I don’t really like to try to impose the should or should-nots of a character, I like to see what comes forward, because characters evolve and grow as humans do, and I kind of unravel it piece by piece, or sort of all at once - it depends how it comes to you sometimes. I tried not to look at many different iterations of Ambrose because I didn’t want to have that influence of this new version of Ambrose that originated in Roberto’s [Aguirre-Sacasa, writer of the ‘Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina’ comics'] head. After chatting with Roberto, I tried to go for the universal aspects of him. I feel if you can understand what drives a character and the universality behind their emotions, then so will the audience, because we are all driven by similar things. Even if we’re not all driven by the same things, we’ve been driven by the same things once upon a time, and I think that kind of gives people a cathartic effect when a character succeeds or fails or triumphs. I’m rambling, but I tried to look at the universal aspect of who he was and then kind of developed those core beliefs, so in that way I could build Ambrose anew.
CDM: The show is your first ever American role, but you get to maintain your own accent. Do you enjoy having your accent, while being surrounded by Americans?
CHANCE: I enjoy it, but also Lucy [Davis] and Richard [Coyle] are also very British as well. I’m actually a dual citizen of the US and the UK, and I find with my mum growing up in New York, sometimes my accent can slip in and out like a smörgåsbord accent, a real hodgepodge. So I tend to play around with Ambrose a bit more, I make him a bit more artsy. I try to give him a bit of a voice where I can’t change it by accident. But it’s especially exciting to be able to pay homage to where I grew up, definitely.
CDM: Ambrose is such a multi-dimensional character, he provides humour in the show but also has his own loneliness to live with. How do you find getting into character, and tapping into both of those very different feelings?
CHANCE: I find it interesting, and sometimes kind of scary to play. Ambrose has to have wisdom and a sense of fear, or tiredness - you wouldn’t know he’s in his 90s, right? It’s precocious. To be able to play that duality, to play that behind the eyes but also be young in body, but not necessarily in spirit and in heart, is kind of nerve-wracking. That’s what I try to focus on mostly.
CDM: It’s an incredible story that you found out you had the part via DM from David Rapaport. It might be the most 2018 way to confirm a casting.
CHANCE: <laughs> Oh yeah. How it happened was two days after I did the screen test with the executives, Warner Brothers, Netflix, and Kiernan [Shipka], I just got out the shower, and then my phone started buzzing. I had a look at Instagram and I just saw all in caps, “CONGRATULATIONS.” And I was like, “What?!” I sent him a picture of my face I think, just in complete shock, and he said, ‘Yeah, you got it dude.’ I sent it to my manager, and my manager said, “He beat us by about twenty minutes, we were just about to call you.” Then I got on the phone and started crying to my mum and she had to pull over as well on the phone because she started crying and emotionally heaving. I heard her going, “Bleurgh,” because she couldn’t handle the emotion. I was like, “Are you being sick?” And she was like, “Almost!” <laughs> It was an amazing way to find out. Very 2018.
CDM: It’s obviously deeply important that a character like Ambrose exists - he’s both pansexual and of an ethnic minority. Do you think that the entertainment industry is becoming more diverse in terms of writing/casting?
CHANCE: Yes, and I think it has to be, because as we move towards a more globally oriented civilisation, we demand more of an accurate portrayal of the world around us, and it’s not just white people running around, saving the damsel, or your normal stereotypes. There’s a lot of studios and a lot going on that go, ‘Oh, this is great diversity in the casting choices,’ but at the same time it’s still the same people that wouldn’t be making those choices otherwise, that they’d be using it to cash in, to capitalise on, ‘Oh, you want more black people? Great. You want more LGBT? Great.’ They really become tokens in a way. I feel that now we’re finally straying away from the age of having token diversity, and having actual diversity.
CDM: So often, even when TV does showcase diversity, they get covered in all these tropes, which often defeats the purpose of the representation.
CHANCE: Exactly, or they’re sent to the back-burner after their quota is met and their arc is completed. They become stuck in the background, like, ‘That’s it, you had your LGBT arc. You’ve had your Asian arc. You’ve had your black arc. You’ve had your Latino arc.’ You know what I mean? Back to the wayside. There’s not so much that in shows that Netflix is putting out at the moment - these characters evolve and change and grow, much like people do in the real world.
CDM: It’s cool that Ambrose’s relationship with Luke is an important storyline in the show - not just a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment that LGBT relationships can often be in TV shows.
CHANCE: Yeah, just like a, ‘Oh, by the way, I love you,’ and it's never mentioned again. You see the lead up, you see the love, the sorrow, the tragedy, the ups, the downs, the ‘I love you,’ the ‘I’m mad at you,’ just like a real relationship! Not like a ‘TV’ relationship, a real-life relationship.
CDM: If C.H.A.N.C.E. was an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
CHANCE: Courageous. Happy, or tries to be. Always trying to be. Nice. Can also be overcome with Existential angst.
CDM: We know that Ross Lynch (Harvey Kinkle) is a musician, and his brother Rocky told us recently that he’s been making music with some of the other cast-members on the show. Have you partaken in any musical happenings on-set?
CHANCE: Oh yes! We kind of live near each other, so we’ve been in our respective rooms and just started jamming out. I don’t play any instruments, so I usually add some vocals. But we’ve had many a pow-wow where we just gather round together and make music from the heart. Some of it has been turned into actual tracks, some has just been unrecorded, just a memory, but we’ve had many an artist pow-wow.
‘The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina’ is available now on Netflix, and a special Christmas episode launches on December 14th.
Watch the trailer for ‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter’s Tale’ below…