Primed for some pre-Halloween chills? This Sunday at 8 pm/ET, ABC Family dredges up the past with a remake of The Initiation of Sarah, the 1978 girls-gone-Wiccan TV-movie that starred Morgan Fairchild as a most sinister sorority sister. TVGuide.com spoke with Reba's Joanna Garcia, who as Alpha Nu Gamma president Chorinne fills Fairchild's shoes this go-round and, with an assist from Veronica Mars' Tessa Thompson, shows poor Mika Boorem (Dawson's Creek) that college life can be a real witch.
TVGuide.com: Did you acquaint yourself at all with the original The Initiation of Sarah?
Joanna Garcia: What's funny is we didn't, because it was so hard to find. But they actually hired Morgan Fairchild, and I reprised her role only mildly nerve-wracking! I was terrified, because not only am I going to have to fill her shoes in what she said was kind of a landmark role for her, but now I'm going to have to be in the movie with her and watch her watch me play her role.
TVGuide.com: What was it like in the presence of her camptastic self?
Garcia: It was very colorful. She's a beautiful lady, and I think she really enjoys being around girls, and our cast was full of women. Anytime you get a chance to meet someone who's sustained a career in this business, whether it be television or film, for as long as she has, I listen to what they say.
TVGuide.com: At one point, you get the none-too-admirable task of giving Morgan a verbal smackdown!
Garcia: Yeah, I got a little zen about it, and then I went for it! She's doing a telenovela [MyNetworkTV's Fashion House] now, and there's a lot of melodrama there, so hopefully I warmed her up a bit for that.
TVGuide.com: Not to date myself, but I remember when my mom wouldn't let me watch the 1978 original. But I still did. And it was quite creepy.
Garcia: Quite creepy! One thing I loved about the script is that it was a little bit of a campy feel.
TVGuide.com: Now, I've never watched Reba.... This is where you boo and hiss at me.
Garcia: No, I don't do that.
TVGuide.com: But I have to imagine that your character here is much unlike Reba's Cheyenne.
Garcia: In the pilot episode six years ago, you find out I'm pregnant at 17 years old, and my mom's just been left for a younger dental hygienist, so I kind of bit off a lot at the beginning. And as the character has evolved, they've given me a lot of opportunity to bring normalcy to Cheyenne's life, so she's still flighty and fun. But this could be our last run, so they've kind of given me an arc where... I might go out with a bang, you could say. So I've been having a lot of fun.
TVGuide.com: Considering your own Tri Delta experience, did you feel bad at all presenting a sorority as a bloodlusting coven?
Garcia: We were the party chicks that had a good time, yeah. In fact, I just went back home for a University of Florida football game, with my sister-in-law, who's also a sorority sister, and we were acting like we were 18 again, smuggling liquor into the stadium in our underwear.... You revert back and you go, "Oh my god, this will never get out of my blood!" [Laughs] But [sorority life] is a huge networking thing and they do a lot of good. I'm proud to be a Tri Delt!
TVGuide.com: If you had nickel for every time you got a script that had the line, "This isn't my first time taking someone to the sacrificial altar," how many nickels would you have?
Garcia: If I had a nickel for each percentage of embarrassment that it took me to actually say that line, I would be wealthier.
TVGuide.com: How many variations on the mischievous, come-hither look did you perfect for this role?
Garcia: I pretty much spent 27 years perfecting assorted variations....
TVGuide.com: Oh, but this movie takes it to new levels.
Garcia: I didn't know I could be that mean! I'm actually, as you can tell, very friendly, and I like to talk a lot. And I like to smile, too, and laugh! With this character, there wasn't a ton of opportunity to do that, and it actually kind of wore on me.
TVGuide.com: Is part of what gives us the creeps about Chorinne is that you have this incongruous and undoubtedly angelic look to yourself?
Garcia: I think that's a nice little juxtaposition. I was totally nervous going into this, having worked with the same people for six years, with the exception of a few hiatus projects here and there. But apparently I'm really good at being a bitch!
TVGuide.com: That was a good scene where you transform into Jennifer Tilly....
Garcia: She's great, isn't she? Such a cool chick. Like I said, you put a cast full of women together on location 3,000 miles away from their boyfriends and families and agents, and it could be a disaster. But this could not have been more of an enjoyable experience.
TVGuide.com: What else have you got going on?
Garcia: Right before I started Reba, I did Not Another Teen Movie, which was another one of those roles where I didn't realize what I was getting into. [Laughs] With the exception of Freaks and Geeks, that was my first attempt at real comedy....
TVGuide.com: You were "Tourette's Girl," right?
Garcia: Yeah. And the writers of that movie wrote another movie called Parental Guidance Suggested, and I just adore them, so.... Frankie Muniz is in it, and Michael Cera, who's a dear friend of mine.... I've been blessed to actually be on a sitcom for six years and have that training. Most young girls of my sort of "type" don't really get a chance to be funny and not worry about what they look like. So for six years, I feel like I've been working toward the next step in my career. It's afforded me the ability to only work when I want to work.
TVGuide.com: Last question: What on today's TV excites you?
Garcia: Where do I begin? Studio 60 is, I think, brilliant.
TVGuide.com: Good for you! People have been complaining, "Oh, it's too 'inside television.' I don't get it"....
Garcia: I totally disagree with that.
TVGuide.com: Then again, you and I are inside television, so....
Garcia: We are, but it's a fast-paced show and for some people it could get overwhelming, I understand that, but the cast is brilliant. I am also a really, really huge fan of Dog the Bounty Hunter, and I TiVo every new comedy, because I think the sitcom is evolving into something different from what it ever has been. And of course I miss Arrested Development, and I'm a mad fan of The Office. And I'm a huge Grey's Anatomy fan, which Tessa did.
TVGuide.com: Yeah, Tessa guested on last season's final two episodes....
Garcia: We were all working [on Sarah] the day of the finale, so we begged our producers, "Please let us be done with our day, so we can all get back and watch Grey's Anatomy" So myself and Tessa and Mika sat in Tessa's hotel room, ordered room service and watched Grey's Anatomy. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Did Tessa give you a heads-up that Meredith and McDreamy would hook up?
Garcia: No, she did not tell me any of that over her dead body! I need to enjoy Grey's Anatomy myself, without spoilers, I really do. I enjoy the melodrama!