The faces may have changed on Charmed, but the premise is most definitely the same: three sisters, who have lost their mother, discover that they are actually “The Charmed Ones,” a trio of witches whose combined powers are designed to protect humanity from a wide variety of demons. Whereas the sisters in the original 1998-2006 series were played by Shannen Doherty (later replaced by Rose McGowan), Holly Marie Combs, and Alyssa Milano, this version stars Madeleine Mantock as Macy Vaughn (actually a half-sister, who’s the oldest of the trio), Melonie Diaz as middle sister Melanie “Mel” Vera, and Sarah Jeffery as youngest sister Margarita “Maggie” Vera.
Following their mother’s death, and Macy’s arrival, they are told the truth about themselves, and discover they each have a special power: Macy’s is telekinesis, Mel can freeze time, and Maggie has the power of reading the thoughts of others.
Explains showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman (also the creator of Jane the Virgin), “There’s so much of the original that is in the fabric of the show. It emanates from the Power of Three, and it’s a love story between sisters. That is the biggest relationship in the show. It’s about the power of women when they come together and their ability to change things, change their world, and right some wrongs. The original was so much about female empowerment and sisterhood and strong women taking over the world, and I feel like that’s what we need right now. It felt like a good time to get back to that and to show women kicking ass.
“I learned so much about the importance of seeing yourself represented on screen, what that means when you’re not, how limiting that feels,” she adds. “We were just really committed to showing a different version of Charmed and building upon the incredible sisterhood that they had and then opening up that world so that other people could relate to our version. At the same time, we definitely have Easter Eggs in the pilot that are a nod to the original, and a lot of the show’s mythology comes from that, but it’s a bit lighter. We’re going to deal with the source of all evil and different ships that are inspired by the original as well. So I hope fans of the original can find some things that they loved and recognize in this, and I hope new people can enter this world as well.”
Among those new people, of course, are Madeleine, Melonie, and Sarah. Born in Nottinghamshire, England, Madeleine is known to American audiences for her roles on the AMC series Into the Badlands, the CW’s Tomorrow People (the revival of the British series), and the feature film Edge of Tomorrow. Melonie has starred in a wide number of independent films, made many guest appearances on television and went a little more mainstream movie-wise with 2018’s The First Purge. Sarah, the youngest of the three, had the starring role in the TV series Rogue, recurred on Wayward Pines, co-starred in Jennifer Lopez’ Shades of Blue, and portrays Princess Audrey in Disney’s Descendants TV movie series.
What follows is a sit-down session with the three ladies that took place at San Diego Comic-Con.
Are you a believer in the supernatural or do you need proof before you believe?
Madeleine: I think I’m more, “Show me the evidence,” but my imagination likes to wander, so I definitely entertain the idea of a lot before seeing the evidence. I think that’s fair to say.
Sarah: If I saw it, I’d believe it. I want it to be true so badly that there is magic out there. Yeah, I’d just take it.
Melonie: I feel like Mel; I’m very open to this kind of other universe or magic. I mean, anything can happen, do you know what I mean? It’s kind of closed-minded to think that there’s nothing bigger than you, or something like that.
How does it feel to be delving into the Charmed universe?
Sarah: Really lucky. Charmed is so iconic. They laid the groundwork and we wanted to be respectful of that and the mythology and everything. There are core similiarities with the original show. We want to honor it while bringing a odern twist.
Madeleine: I think it’s cool, because it’s such an interesting universe. They’ve got so much mythology that we can hopefully borrow from and pay tribute to. I think it’s amazing that we have such a teasure trove of stuff that came before us.
Sarah: Yea, we get to play with it and incorporate it.
Melonie: And it’s also a very different time. You know, the show was made many years ago and I think so much has happened since then. Like, social media and the #MeToo movement. Our show is really going to reflect these issues and modernize them with the Power of Three.
What do you enjoy most about your characters so far?
Melonie: I like that she’s an academic. I like that she’s a teacher. I like that she’s a feminist. I like that she cares about politics. I care about politics, so it will be fun to kind of delve into that.
Sarah: I think with Maggie, she’s the fun girly girl. She’s rushing a sorority. She cares a lot about what people think of her, which I can relate to. But she’s also not the stereotypical stupid girly girl. She’s smart and she cares. She loves her sisters, both her new sister and her pre-existing sister. I loved that I can relate to that.
Madeleine: I think, for me, the best bit has been getting to play somebody who finds out that they have a family. When for so long she’s grown up really lonely and kind of been okay with it, but then sees this other avenue of life and really wants to embrace it. It’s really lovely to play that.
Will characters or other elements of the original show’s mythology appear on this show?
Madeleine: I don’t know. I know we’re very conscious to not fiddle with their mythology. As I understand it, by the end of the original there was a lot of time traveling and figuring out where things were going to land. So we’re obviously open and would be honored to have those characters come in, but it would have to be staying to true to that and it would have to be some sort of time travel element just so we don’t mess with that.
Sarah: Hopefully we’ll play around with maybe pre-existing demons from the original and playing with those ideas.
Madeleine: Oh, that would be cool. But what if they’ve already been vanquished?
Sarah: That’s true.
Melonie: But we do have the Book of Shadows.
Madeleine: It’s really heavy.
Melonie: Either way, it’s still the same kind of thematic issues, like good versus evil.
Madeleine: I love it that we get to be the heroes and we want to protect the innocent. Like, it’s just so cool that we have powers.
Sarah: I know, it’s wild.
Did it take a while to learn how to physicalize your powers?
Madeleine: I just take the direction: “Just look there? Okay.” Still figuring it out.
Sarah: Mine is not as physical as theirs, because I read minds. But I still have to touch a part of someone to read their mind.
Sarah: I think it will be like Pokémon. You know, how they level up?
Madeleine: Get to become Charizard!
What can you tease about the first season?
Madeleine: We don’t have anything.
Sarah: We have no idea. They’re being very secretive about it. I’m very excited, though. I’d heard that it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Melonie: What I do know is that it’s not necessarily going to be, like a demon per week. The theme is wihtin their personal lives. There will be demons, obviously, but I don’t know exactly how they will manifest.
Sarah: We’re balancing trying to be normal women.
Madeleine: Yeah, witch/life balance.
Melonie: And the looming apocalypse.
Sarah: That is ever present.
Charmed makes its debut on Sunday, Oct. 14, right after Supergirl.