Fierce. Funny. Feminist. The power of three — in this case, three words to conjure up a host of excitement for a Charmed reboot with three fresh faces: Madeleine Mantock, Sarah Jeffery, and Melonie Diaz. The reboot of the supernatural WB series — which originally starred Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, and Alyssa Milano, and ran from 1998 to 2006 — wastes no time making good on its log-line, with plots involving the Time’s Up movement, relevant dialogue, and eye-popping magic.
That magic extends to three actresses casting a new spell on audiences. Both Diaz and Jeffery call the trio’s instant chemistry “miraculous.” Diaz explains, “They didn’t test us together to see if it was going to work and we really feel like sisters.” Jeffery echoes the sentiment, saying, “We were lucky — it was an immediate connection. We have a sisterly rapport and it’s reflected onscreen.”
Mantock chalks this fast sense of sisterhood up to the initial backlash they all faced from fans and the stars of the original series. “That strengthens people. It forced us to look at what we’re doing and say, ‘This is important and I’m proud to be part of this show.’” While the negative response dominated early talks with the press, the new cast has collectively decided to look forward and “embrace the positive” in Diaz’s words. “We just want people to give it a chance,” says Jeffery.
The reboot centers around three new characters: Mel (Diaz) Vera, a firebrand graduate student who can freeze time; Maggie (Jeffery) Vera, a free-spirited sorority girl who can read minds; and Macy (Mantock) Vaughn, a highly logical scientist with telekinesis. Brought together by the suspicious death of their mother and impending doom, the three women discover they are witches (and sisters!) who must band together to vanquish evil.
Most of the magic, however, is created in post. Jeffery signals her mind reading through touch, and Mantock conveys her power with slight head and eye movements (“I would love to be able to use my hands at some point,” she opines). Diaz got a bit flashier freezing time, bringing actual mimes on as background talent to enhance the effect. “The people in the background are actually staying still,” she marvels. “I look around and I’m like ‘Oh my god, these are actors that are mimes staying still because I’m freezing time. This is crazy.”
They’re already delving into a host of magic and effects, but they all have a wish list for the upcoming freshman season. Diaz wants to delve into teleportation and brujeria, while Jeffery is eager to get more physical and be “a ninja bad-ass.” Mantock yearns for something a bit closer to home — Macy’s mythology. “I am really excited about Macy’s family, whoever they may be,” she says. “She believes her father to be dead, but we don’t know if that’s true. Why is she the way she is? Why did she grow up away from her sisters?”
In another bit of supernatural intervention, the girls say their roles are perfect matches for their own personalities. “I was really attracted to how Mel was this social justice warrior,” says Diaz. “I feel very similar to that right now. Playing a character who’s willing to fight the darkness is a cool way to fight back in my own life.” Jeffery says the number of parallels between her and Maggie is “crazy,” calling herself a “free-spirited, optimistic person” and a natural “empath,” while Mantock adds, “There’s a directness to me that comes from needing to understand how things work. I appreciate [Macy’s] logical thinking.”
One thing they all have in common is their excitement over the show’s promise to showcase magic from across the globe. “We’re going to embrace magic as a whole,” says Diaz. “Magic is a universal thing.” Citing everything from voodoo to paganism, Mantock revels in what that means for inclusion. “Not only do we get the chance to explore different types of magic, but I’m hopeful we can introduce characters of varied backgrounds and give actors a chance to explore parts of their culture they didn’t know,” she says.
The real magic comes in what the show has to offer audiences – a chance to be seen. Charmed blends humor, heart, action, and horror spelled together by sisterhood. A sisterhood now made up of three women of color. Jeffery calls the original cast “trailblazers,” adding, “Younger generations will know if you see someone who looks like you, that could be you.” Mantock echoes this, saying, “The ultimate goal is to empower people,” while Diaz adds, “There’s a real element of wish fulfillment, that you can do and be anything.”
The actresses also stressed the power of working together as a group. “The sisterhood is the biggest love story, and it’s refreshing to have women who are there for each other and not pitted against each other,” says Jeffery. For Diaz, it’s an idea that’s essential to the DNA of the show and the very notion of sisterhood itself — “You’re stronger together. You’re as good as the people you surround yourself with. Working harder together is better than working alone. Ideas like fighting the darkness and raising your light are really cool. I want young women to watch the show and feel they can literally do anything.” Even magic.