Gavin Leatherwood claims he doesn’t exactly know what an Internet boyfriend is, but it’s only a matter of time, because Part 2 of Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina premiered on Friday. Whereas Part 1 found the show’s titular witch, played by Kiernan Shipka, in a relationship with Harvey Kinkle, a mortal played by Ross Lynch, Part 2 is all about Sabrina and Nick Scratch, a classmate and warlock played by Leatherwood. They’d already been flirting, but now it’s official: “Harvey isn’t my boyfriend anymore,” Sabrina repeatedly tells her best friend Roz, a mortal played by Jaz Sinclair.
She might be trying to tell Roz to pursue her ex, but most of the time it sounds more like Sabrina is repeating the reminder for herself. As usual with her routine struggle between life at the Academy of Unseen Arts and life at Baxter High, it’s not that simple—even though Nick is quite the hot commodity at the Academy. (The scuffle over who gets to pair with Nick for Lupercalia, the witchy, sex-filled bacchanalia version of Valentine’s Day, is so heated that Sabrina ends up getting shoved onto the floor.)
Surprisingly enough, especially given the comments “Nabrina” Instagrams tend to attract (“This couple cured my depression and anxiety”), Leatherwood can sympathize with Sabrina’s dilemma. “As far as Nick is concerned, he’s 100 percent team Nick and Sabrina. But I gotta say, as Gavin, I’m team Sabrina and Harvey—they’ve got that O.G. lovey-dovey romance,” he said. “They’re each other’s first love, and I think that that’s beautiful.”
Such an emphatic level of support—Leatherwood’s Instagram profile picture is even a photo of Shipka and Lynch, long after they first dared him to change it—might sound a bit suspicious. But don’t get the wrong idea. At 24, Leatherwood is an arrestingly earnest Hollywood actor. “I mean, this is big-time for me. It’s my first real big break, and it’s super exciting,” he said after sharing that he had recently googled himself, “just out of curiosity,” with his mom, an avid Sabrina fan. Even though he now has 788,000 followers—a number that jumped up by nearly 100,000 over the weekend—he still follows his pre-Sabrina, 1,000-follower-era practice of reading every comment and D.M. he gets. (He’s even been toying with the idea of making a separate account solely for responding to fans.)
Part 1 set him up as Harvey’s evil warlock counterpart, so is Nick. He’s the first to support Sabrina in her run against him for the title of Head Boy; the first to comfort her when they both ultimately lose; the one to suggest killing his familiar to protect her; and the only one who’ll help attempt to defy Father Blackwood, even if it means storming his wedding to Sabrina’s Aunt Zelda (and promptly getting expelled). And that’s all just within the first few episodes of Part 2.
“Nick’s really strong intention is to help Sabrina in her progress down the Path of Night, and in developing her witchier side,” Leatherwood explained. It’s a major evolution for a character who wasn’t in the comics and didn’t even have a backstory until this season, and that might have to do with the characters’ obvious chemistry. “He went about it in such a flirtatious manner in Part 1, but I really wanted Nick’s respect and admiration for Sabrina to be clear,” Leatherwood said. “Especially for the depth of her mortal side, and the depth to this really beautiful bond built around love between her and Harvey.”
As for the supportive bond between Nick and Sabrina, well, for one thing Leatherwood hopes that it’s not because of a certain fan theory: “I heard one that Nick Scratch is Sabrina’s twin brother, which is icky on many levels,” he said. “And I pray to the lord, or the dark lord—I don’t know which one at this point—that it’s not true.”