The chilling adventures of Gavin Leatherwood began as a real-life drama during his adolescence in Southern California. As a 13-year old skater boy sliding down the steep hills of a city called Placentia, he crashed his longboard into the pavement so hard that he lost consciousness and woke up with a small group of people crowded around him, a few minutes later. These days the crowds have grown much larger. Because not only is Gavin Leatherwood the co-star of one of the most popular teenage dramas on Netflix, he’s also a singer-songwriter with a debut album in the works. As Gavin Leatherwood’s fanbase continues to grow, his supporters just might catch him jumping from one creative space to another—quite often. Whether it’s making his first Indie-Folk album or perhaps revising his role as one of Greendale’s most infamous warlocks someday. One thing’s for sure—Gavin Leatherwood is not afraid to challenge himself as an artist and he’s not afraid to crash either. 2020 marks the fourth and final installment of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix. Gavin Leatherwood’s bravado, on and off-screen, made him an ideal fit for the portrayal of Nicholas Scratch—a character that wasn’t even a part of the original graphic novel series from Archie Comics. We caught up with Gavin Leatherwood for an exclusive interview about growing up in Orange County, crossing over to music and life after the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
MOOD: First of all, we want to congratulate you on the success of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. We interviewed you a few years ago before the pilot episode premiered. Were you nervous, back then, when you interviewed with us for the first time?
Gavin Leatherwood: Hell yeah! For sure, there were those new jitters that come with any new experience and not knowing what to expect or how anything goes…so yeah, of course.
MOOD: Awesome, welcome back! It’s been cool to see you evolve over the years. How have you changed as a person and an actor since we last saw you?
Gavin Leatherwood: Man, it’s a wild thing, to sum up, the last couple of years. I Feel like there’s just a bit more confidence in me after doing this bit. You know? And how a set operates has really been a helpful thing and just the technical side of it all is a big thing that helped me grow to allot so that I know what (the production team) means when they say: “We’re going to reverse.” Do you know what I mean? The real simple stuff that I had never really known. And then, artistically, just asking for what you need and just cultivating an environment that feels collaborative and free. Your vibe differently rubs off on everyone in some way. So, bringing positive energy and an optimistic and inspired mentality is generally a good thing to bring to anything creative. And that’s just kind of rippled out to other aspects of my life too.
MOOD: As the years progressed and you became more comfortable with the production team, were you able to have more input with the show’s writers, in terms of the development of the Nicholas Scratch character that you portrayed on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina?
Gavin Leatherwood: I think they kind of shaped their writing around how we played certain moments. I feel like because the episodes were written so quickly, we didn’t really know what was coming next…So big “hat’s off” to the writers because they took a lot of how we were playing off of what they had written and continued to mold it into what the show kind of became.
MOOD: Speaking of the writing room, what’s your relationship like with the show’s executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa? And why do you think there was never a crossover between the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Riverdale? They’re both hit shows on Netflix and the fans have been clamoring for a crossover for years.
Gavin Leatherwood: I’m really not sure why that didn’t happen. I feel like that would be right up his alley. Maybe he just wanted to keep the sacred nature of each show their own thing…it might have been a big doozy to do that. Even though fans would have eaten it up—I’m sure…But you can’t always give up everything that (the fans) want. You have to keep people wanting I guess (laughs). But Roberto’s great, he’s like a mystical wizard that pops in with all the enthusiasm. I think he really loves what he does and when he called me at the end of it all, it was really heartfelt. I felt very proud and honored and grateful to have been a part of it.
MOOD: That’s amazing. So, do you think your relationship with him, in this industry, will be something that grows over the years and perhaps the two of you will together on some other shows in the future?
Gavin Leatherwood: For sure, he even mentioned something like that. He said: “I’ll be calling you. My phone is open to you anytime, man.” He’s a really cool dude.
MOOD: Over the course of the past few years, the world has been treated to some amazing reboots and remakes of classic films and TV shows. Cobra Kai debuted on YouTube two years ago and this past November Peacock premiered its remake of Saved By The Bell. Could you ever see yourself doing a remake or a continuation of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? Like twenty or thirty years from now-- where you’re playing someone’s Dad?
Gavin Leatherwood: (Laughs) Man, I hadn’t even thought about it. That is a wild idea. Revisiting a character? I’m not opposed to it at all. I think it would be interesting. Especially to dig up someone that you kind of got to create. Because Nick Scratch wasn’t really a part of the (Archie Comics) universe. So, it was fun to sort of mold his way into it. But yeah man, I’m open to exploring all different aspects of creativity and if digging up an old character is part of it, then I’m into it for sure. Why not?
MOOD: Speaking of new shows and being creative. Hypothetically speaking, if you and your sister, Chloe, could produce an original television series together what do you think it would be about?
Gavin Leatherwood: (Laughs) My sis and I? Well, she’s a real estate agent now. She’s been doing that for a bit and we always talk about the fun of flipping houses and renovating things. It would probably be a reality TV show following our silly shenanigans and renovating homes and something along the lines of that. Something quaint and wholesome.
MOOD: You grew up in California, right?
Gavin Leatherwood: Yeah, I grew up in Orange County near Yorba Linda.
MOOD: Cool. So, growing up as a teenager in that area were you ever a fan of “Teen Dramas” that were based on the suburban California lifestyle like The OC or 90210?
Gavin Leatherwood: I was not. Honestly, no hate to them. They’re great shows from what I’ve heard but it just wasn’t my cup of tea…That really heightened super-rich, super beautiful kind of energy just was not a part of what I was growing up in. (Laughs) We were all just grimy little kids that played in the sewers and skateboarded to each other’s houses and broke into schools and scuffed up our knees.
MOOD: Nice! Were you a punk rock kid or a skater back then?
Gavin Leatherwood: I thought I was. Really, I was just an innocent little kid from the outside having fun with his friends. But I thought I was a punk. I just wanted to get on a skateboard to say that I fell down.
MOOD: What about “Supernatural Teen Dramas” like The Vampire Diaries and Teen Wolf? Technically, those shows are in the same genre as the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Gavin Leatherwood: I loved supernatural stuff…I didn’t watch Vampire Diaries and I didn’t watch Supernatural. I was big into Lord of The Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. Obviously, those were huge, momentous supernatural things. But I would spend several hours in my garage, staring at objects and trying to move them with my mind—to no avail.
MOOD: I think we’ve all tried that a couple of times!
Gavin Leatherwood: (Laughs). Yeah, man! I was like, “C’mon, the force is fucking real. Let’s do this!” But it never happened…I was always a big fan of that and I feel like magic, to some degree does exist in this world. It’s real it’s just a much more mystical thing. And I feel like TV shows are such a fun way to explore that and bring it to light…so we can live vicariously through it. But (magic) is happening. It’s around us…I’m convinced.
Gavin wears Isabel Marant
MOOD: We noticed that you’ve posted quite a few photos of yourself on Instagram with your acoustic guitar. Now that the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Part 4) is coming to an end. Are you going to be dropping a debut EP anytime soon for your fans?
Gavin Leatherwood: Yeah, I just drove my van down from Oregon, a few days ago. I’m out here in East L.A. right now in the process of recording potentially what could be an album. I’m not really sure, we’re just kind of going with the flow and we’ve written three songs and we’re going to get into the process of recording the songs, mixing and doing all that. We’re working on a fourth (song) right now. So yeah, that’s very much the aim. I love music, it’s been a part of my life since I was like fourteen. I think that was the first time that I picked up a guitar-- it was to impress chicks and get them to like me. And it just kind of stuck around with me and grew into something more. (Music has given me) the opportunity to be vulnerable and make people feel things. Which is essentially what acting is…it’s just a different medium in doing it. I feel like it’s one of the most powerful ways. So, it’s new and it’s exciting to actually be taking practical steps towards it. And I’m enjoying the hell out of it. It’s a little bit of a scary and intimidating process, to some degree. But it’s also incredibly lovely and fun. I think everyone should do stuff that scares them and this definitely scares me.
MOOD: Nice! Will these songs be a part of a solo project or are you this recording music as a part of a band?
Gavin Leatherwood: I’m with this producer named John Paul (Roney). My manager (Stephen Belden) linked him and me up. When we met up, it was just a kindred spirit kind of stuff. (We have) a very similar mindset and we sort of clicked. I’ve just been parked outside of his place for the past four or five days. And we’ve just been on the grind, man. I’m just living out of the van, I come on in and we start doing music…that’s how it’s been the past few days.
MOOD: Are there any singers out there who have a sound that similar to yours?
Gavin Leatherwood: You know…one of my big influences is Gregory Alan Isakov…Shakey Graves is really great and Rayland Baxter is super dope. They all have elements that I’ve taken a liking to and I kind of find myself playing things that feel similar in tonality.
MOOD: Interesting, so are we talking Country? Alternative? Soft Rock?
Gavin Leatherwood: I would lean a little more towards Indie and Indie-Folk kind of shit. It’s kind of hard to explain. Everyone has their own sound. When you sit long enough for hours in front of an instrument with your thoughts, you just kind of start going somewhere and then whatever falls out of you, from wherever it comes from is just sort of you. But those are the guys that I really enjoy listening to. I’m just aiming to create something I enjoy playing and hearing myself.
MOOD: If you could collaborate on a song with any musician in the world, that you’ve never met, who would be it and why?
Gavin Leatherwood: It would probably, by Gregory Alan Isakov. Again, he’s one of my heroes. My manager reached out to his manager on my birthday, which is June 7th. The pandemic hit and we were all just kind of quarantined at home and he asked me “What are you doing for your birthday?” And I said, “Well, nothing man. I’m going to have dinner with my fam and just hang out and have a ‘me day’ for the most part.” And I was a little surprised that he got in touch with Gregory Alan Isakov’s manager and he surprise FaceTime’d me for my birthday. I nearly pissed my pants (laughs). It’s so crazy to see one of your hero’s face on one of your screens. I love his stuff, I feel like his words are so poetic. I don’t know how he does it but I’d love to sit in a room with him and watch how he goes about it.
MOOD: Some of your co-stars from the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sing as well. A couple of years ago, Ross Lynch was the lead singer of R5. Have the two of you ever talked about forming a new music duo?
Gavin Leatherwood: We’ve made up songs together. Just more really with a lighthearted spirit. Never with an intention to record or work together in any way. Again, your music is so personal that you’re translating whatever you see, feel, and experience into a song. So, it is deeply personal and I feel like the key is finding someone that is willing to help you translate that message. Ross and I were shooting that music video (called Straight to Hell by the cast of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), and we just had a guitar laying around, and we came up with a cute little ditty that was just fun. We’ll still play it every now and then and just laugh about it. But he is talented as hell, man. I love being around him too. When we were on set just watching him…it’s crazy how you learn just by being around creative people.
MOOD: Obviously, the kind of music that the two of you would make as solo artists would be very different from one another, but hey, if Sting and Shaggy can make an album together—the two of you can as well (Laughs).
Gavin Leatherwood: (Laughs) Anything’s possible…Who the hell knows man! Crazier things have happened.
MOOD: Can you tell our readers a little bit about shooting the final episode of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? What was it like when the director said, “It’s a wrap” for the very last time? Was everyone emotional? Were people crying? What was the vibe like on set?
Gavin Leatherwood: It was weird, man. We actually didn’t know for sure if it was going to be the last (episode). We thought there might have been a possibility of going back. But the question was definitely in the air and there was this great mystery if we were going to or not. We approached it with that mindset…or at least with that idea in the back of our minds. We didn’t really get the goodbye that we all wanted to be honest. None of us knew. We were all like: “All right, see you in four months. Probably?” And then things kind of change. But you know I’m still seeing most of them, which has been nice. So, it’s never goodbye. It’s more like a “See you later.” And what a great, great ride and chapter of life the whole experience has been.
MOOD: What are some of your favorite TV shows right now and if you could join the cast of any series that’s currently running which one would it be?
Gavin Leatherwood: You know, I hope they make more seasons of Peaky Blinders. I was so into it! (The episodes) It all felt like movies…Stranger Things would be super dope, I love Stranger Things…And I wouldn’t mind hopping on The Mandalorian. Anything Star Wars would be great…But you know what, I will say that I missed the beginning part of Sabrina. I came in on episode four (of Season 1). So, I really would love to experience being a part of something new. Where you all get to sort of set the tone and vibe and set out to create something together. I feel like that would be incredibly rewarding. I wouldn’t be opposed to hopping on a show as well but there’s something magical about that first (episode). I came in during the middle when magic was still very abundant, and new characters were coming in. So, there was still this really strong general magic and enthusiasm in the air. It was super fun, so I’d want to see it from start to finish.
MOOD: Is there anything that you wouldn’t do as an actor? Like, play a Nazi or a mass murderer?
Gavin Leatherwood: It’s all fair game. That is our job as actors. It’s to bring light to characters that have otherwise remained in the dark ad it’s our job as actors to find the truth of those characters and be an open channel and vassal for them to come through. So long as the character is rooted in truth… I’d play anyone, that’s what I signed up for. That’s the nature of the game and it’s all in the service of art. So no, bring it on man! C’mon!
MOOD: Can you tell our readers a little bit about some of the exciting projects that you have lined up for 2021?
Gavin Leatherwood: Right now, this music has been the big focus. But there are a lot of cool things that I’ve auditioned for…. there are a lot of cool things on the horizon for sure. I think the whole process is so much more mystical than we believe. It’s almost as if you can spend your whole time looking for that character while that right character is looking for you too…and sometimes it just syncs up. You got to have faith throughout this whole process.
Gavin wears an Undercover look, with Opened Jesus rings
Words: Miguel Costa
Fashion: Edwin J. Ortega
Grooming: Diane Dusting
Location Elektric Studio