Caroline Rhea spent the better part of the late ’90s playing Hilda Spellman, eccentric aunt and witch looking after Sabrina, her teenaged niece. The role brought Rhea into millions of households every week and the actress defined the role for a generation. Turns out, though, that she took the job under less than ideal circumstances.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly as part of a reunion special at LA Comic Con, Rhea recalled how, initially, she planned on passing up the role until a particularly bad breakup with a boyfriend led her to reconsider. Rhea was swayed by Sabrina The Teenage Witch creator Nell Scovell explaining to her that Hilda wasn’t simply a witch, she was a witch who’d “recently imprisoned the man that didn’t love her in her ring”.
“And I was like, ‘I’ll do it!'” said Rhea.
Though Hilda was the more serious of Sabrina’s aunts in the original Archie comics, Rhea’s take on the character was decidedly more whimsical and fancy-free, and Zelda, her sister, became the serious one on the show. It will be interesting to see if the CW’s upcoming Sabrina reboot decides to bring back those alternate versions of the characters for their show.