It’s no secret that everyone lately has been completely obsessed with the new teen series Riverdale. Most people read at least a few Archie comics growing up, and were familiar with the whole gang – the lovable Archie, girl-next-door Betty, glamorous Veronica and goofy Jughead. The CW took those well-known characters and gave them a slightly darker twist – instead of being an idyllic small town filled with wholesome teens, Riverdale became a place packed with secrets, lies and murder. And audiences couldn’t be more thrilled.
And when it comes to casting, the network didn’t opt to pick well-known stars in their late 20s to play the ‘teens’ on the show. They trusted that audiences would connect with the characters, and just found young actors and actresses who they thought would fit the parts – even if they weren’t yet household names. Cole Sprouse, who plays Jughead, is perhaps the best known of the young cast, because of how much acting work he did with his twin brother Dylan when he was a child. The rest of the cast have a few credits to their names, but they weren’t really well known before the show – now, of course, they have fans around the world.
So, are you curious about where on earth the sexy redhead who plays Archie came from? What you might have seen Betty in before she was on Riverdale? What Cole Sprouse has been doing all these years? Well, here are 15 things you may not have known about the cast of Riverdale.
15. K.J. Apa is half-Samoan
If we’re being honest, it’s a little bit tough to figure out where K.J. Apa is from because of that red hair. He doesn’t have the fair-skinned Irish look that many redheads have (because the hair isn’t his natural colour – more on that later), but it’s a bit tough to figure out his background. Well, it turns out that Apa is actually half-Samoan. His grandfather was actually a high chief in a small village, and Apa’s father took over the title when K.J. was a teenager. He got a tattoo with a design that honoured his Samoan roots to commemorate the occasion. And now that he’s made the move to the entertainment industry, he’ll be able to find plenty of mentors who share his values – he just has to look at the hugely successful Dwayne Johnson for a good example of how someone can make it in Hollywood while still honouring their heritage.
14. K.J. Apa is from New Zealand
Everyone on Riverdale has an American accent, so you probably assume they’re all from various parts of the United States, right? I mean, there are several talented British actors who have managed to blend in with their American cast mates, but the Riverdale cast is so new, they must have just been plucked from the aspiring Los Angeles actors, right? Not quite. It turns out that K.J. Apa is actually from New Zealand – although you would never tell based on how flawless his American accent is. The producers had trouble finding the perfect actor to play the iconic role of Archie, so they didn’t just call in actors throughout North America for auditions – they went international! So, if you’ve never seen Apa in an interview yet, do yourself a favour and go check it out. If you thought British accents were hot, just wait until you hear that New Zealand drawl. It’s absolutely adorable.
13. Lili Reinhart is a momma’s girl (unlike her character)
Fans of the show know that Betty and her mother Alice don’t exactly have a Lorelai and Rory kind of relationship. They argue all the time and clearly don’t really get along. However, while she’s probably experienced teen drama in her life that she can draw upon for the role of Betty, Reinhart has to look elsewhere to understand that part of her character – because she’s super close with her mom in real life. As Reinhart told Teen Vogue in an interview, “My mom is like my best friend. I tell her everything and we’re extremely close.” Given how many young starlets in Hollywood have serious issues with their parents and are forced to do things like emancipate and cut their parents out of their lives entirely, it’s kind of refreshing to see a rising starlet who still has close family ties. It seems that Momma Reinhart could give Alice Cooper a few tips on how to form a healthy relationship with your daughter!
12. Lili Reinhart has struggled with mental health issues
In the comic books, Betty is the all-American, blonde, bubbly girl-next-door. She may have some drama in her personal life, but nothing major – Riverdale is far too idyllic for that. In the television version, however, Betty is a more nuanced character. She still has many of the traits that made people love her in the comics, such as her sweetness and compassion, but audiences quickly find out that Betty struggles with mental health issues including anxiety and depression. It turns out that storyline hits quite close to home for Reinhart, who herself has struggled with the same issues. “I can very much relate to Betty in that way, and that there’s a vulnerability inside,” Reinhart said in an interview with WWD. We have to admit – we’re totally loving the trend lately of shows aimed at younger audience opting to be more diverse and to represent the true reality teens face, which isn’t as glossy and perfect as older teen dramas try to portray it as
11. Lili Reinhart and Madelaine Petsch are roomies
The thing about television shows is that they’re often filmed in locations other than Los Angeles, for various reasons including the cost and the need to make a location look like, well, not California. For example, another CW show, The Vampire Diaries, was filmed in Georgia. For Riverdale, the cast had to pack up and spend significant amounts of time in Vancouver, British Columbia. Since the show is still in its first season and they’re not sure how long they’ll have to be in the Canadian city, the cast opted to just live together in their home away from home – and Lili Reinhart and Madelaine Petsch are roomies. And it seems like there’s nothing but love there. In an interview with Collider, Reinhart said that “While we were filming the pilot, we [the cast] were like, ‘No matter what happens with this show, we’re all going to be friends for a really long time.’”
10. Madelaine Petsch once dated Aaron Carter
It can be strange to figure out who in Hollywood has dated at some point. After all, it’s a relatively small community of celebrities – sometimes people’s paths end up crossing who you would never have imagined would ever get together. Madelaine Petsch and Aaron Carter are one of those pairings. Carter (yes, the little brother of former Backstreet Boy Nick Carter) rose to fame in the 2000s, and has been relatively under the radar since. Well, except for his drama about still being in love with Hilary Duff a while back. However, back in 2014, Carter had his eyes set on a gorgeous redhead – Madelaine Petsch. He wasn’t shy about sharing his feelings on social media, spilling to his fans on Twitter that “I get to see my beautiful girlfriend MP who loves me & cares about me so much in like 20 minutes! Ahhh I’m so happy.” Petsch replied with a cute “Love you babe!” The duo didn’t last long, but still – who would’ve guessed?
9. Madelaine Petsch is a big Archie Comics fan
As is the case with any project based on a movie or series, there will be some cast members who have never read the original, and some cast members who were huge fans before ever being cast in the film or television adaptation. Petsch falls into the latter camp for this project – and Archie Comics has even sent her vintage copies that feature Cheryl Blossom, the character she plays on the show. When she learnt she would be cast as Cheryl, Petsch apparently straight up started crying. Even her family is in on it – Petsch’s mother apparently always flips through the Archie Comics at the supermarket, and often brings some home to Petsch. “She’ll turn all the pages to the back of Riverdale and leave them on the supermarket shelf – or she’ll buy them all – so I have so many Archie Comics!” Petsch said to Glamour. If you’re working on a beloved series, it probably helps to be a fan!
8. Cole Sprouse once worked at a comic book store
Speaking of comic book fans – it turns out that Cole Sprouse actually worked at a comic book store for a while, which means he absorbed a whole lot of information about the comic book world, including the Archie universe. He had some pretty clear opinions on Riverdale at first based on his background “I come from a comic background… and when you hear about a dark and gritty take on an otherwise beloved franchise, that’s all the wrong buzzwords for the right project,” said Sprouse. However, when he started doing a little bit more research, he realized that it actually made more sense than he initially thought. “It seemed like the road [in the Archie universe] had been paved for a while for something like this. My knowledge now is that the Archie universe is wide enough for something like this to take place,” said Sprouse. Well, we’re just glad he got on board with the project, because we can’t imagine a better Jughead – and we’re thrilled to see Sprouse back on the small screen again!
7. Cole Sprouse is a talented photographer
It’s always kind of cool to see what hidden talents actors have. Sometimes, they’re able to use their talent in a role, such as an actor who plays a musician on screen – and actually plays all his own songs, and sings himself. However, who knew that Cole Sprouse was actually a talented photographer? The actor has three different Instagram accounts that document his photography. His main one, @ColeSprouse, is where he shares incredible photographs of all types. His account @sprousemasterworks is his spot to share sketches and drawings, although he’s less active n that one. And finally, showing he has a sense of humour, he has an account called @camera_duels where he shares pictures of people trying to get pictures of him. Talk about meta! And he’s not just an amateur Instagram photographer – he’s actually worked for Teen Vogue and Conde Nast Traveler, which is pretty incredible. Given how often he’s probably traveling to unique locales as an actor, it’s a handy skill to have.
6. Veronica is Camila Mendes’ first ever acting role
Most of the cast of Riverdale are relatively new in the industry, with Cole Sprouse probably being the one with the most experience since he began acting when he was just a kid alongside his brother Dylan. However, none of them are quite as new as Camila Mendes. The gorgeous brunette who plays Veronica Lodge actually just graduated from NYU, and managed to fall straight into a leading role on a huge teen drama, which is absolutely incredible. Many aspiring starlets spend years getting guest starring roles and small gigs before ever even dreaming of being a female lead on a big project, so we can only imagine how lucky (and probably how terrified) Mendes felt to be given the chance so early in her career. She certainly hasn’t been disappointing, so we have a feeling that there are plenty of big things in this young actress’ future. I mean, if Veronica Lodge is her first role ever, she’s already way ahead on the path to success.
5. K.J. Apa played a similar role on a Kiwi soap (minus the red hair)
The storyline with Archie and Ms. Grundy may seem too insane to believe, but it turns out that for K.J. Apa, it’s just the same old stuff again. The New Zealand cutie played a character on a Kiwi soap opera called Shortland Street, where he got the role of Kane Jenkins. And, he had a pretty unbelievable storyline – his character was in a relationship with his P.E. teacher. “I literally had just played a similar storyline,” Apa told Teen Vogue in an interview. “I knew who Ms. Grundy was [in the comics] and she was definitely not the same Ms. Grundy that we have on our show. So that was surprising to me.” It’s the type of storyline that not many actors will get a chance to play, so the fact that Apa has now played the role of a student hot for teacher twice is kind of a strange coincidence.
4. Camila Mendes speaks fluent Portuguese
In the comic books, Veronica Lodge is just a Caucasian with a vague European heritage – it’s not really specified, but given how Mr. Lodge looks, you wouldn’t think she comes from a Latin background. However, for the television show, the producers made her a Latina – which is one of the main reasons that Mendes was interested in the character, and was the entire reason she went for the part. It’s because that heritage hits close to home for Mendes, who is Brazilian-American. The gorgeous starlet actually lived in Brazil for a year when she was ten years old, and apparently that helped cement her language skills, because she now speaks Portuguese fluently. If the Riverdale cast ever embarks on international tours, Mendes’ linguistic abilities will probably help her out quite a bit. Plus, who doesn’t love when celebrities who speak multiple languages can fire back at an international reporter in their own tongue? It’s kind of awesome.
3. It’s a tough process to get that red hair for K.J. Apa
Though the colour looks great on him, K.J. Apa is not a natural redhead – he has to get his hair dyed for the role. And, given that he has naturally dark hair, it’s not an easy process. He spilled all the details in an interview, saying that he has to return to the salon every two weeks or so to get it dyed and bleached because his roots start showing, and the process takes around two and a half hours – minimum. And the very first time, when they had to bleach his eyebrows to match, it was even worse. “I had two holes – they burnt into my skin,” says Apa. “I was like ‘Oh, my, we’ve got to sort this out.” It’s a bit unusual – generally it’s actresses who are commanded to dye their hair for roles, so it’s kind of refreshing to see an actor struggling through the process. We can’t imagine anyone else as Archie, so it’s a good thing Apa is willing to suffer through those salon visits to get Archie’s signature red locks.
2. Camila and Cole were at NYU at the same time
Given that Camila Mendes and Cole Sprouse are roughly the same age, it makes sense that they both attended New York University at roughly the same time. While they obviously weren’t in all the same classes – it’s a huge school – their paths did cross from time to time. At least, according to Mendes. She admits that she remembers seeing Sprouse at parties from time to time while she was a student there. Sprouse, on the other hand, didn’t remember Mendes whatsoever – awkward! Well, in all honesty, anyone who has attended college knows that you meet a ton of faces, and some of them stick in your mind while others just don’t. Mendes and Sprouse seem to be pals now, so it’s all in the past. Plus, they probably had some great bonding moments provoked by their shared experience at NYU. Perhaps Camila just has a way, way better memory than Sprouse – maybe she needs to challenge him on who memorizes their lines quicker!
1. Cole only started acting because of his mother
Child actors are somewhat unusual. Some of them get into the industry because it’s their passion, and their parents indulge it and allow them to go on auditions and pursue their dreams. Other child actors are pushed into it by parents who want to live vicariously through their children, and capitalize on the cash that they can make in the industry. As Sprouse said on Tumblr, “my brother and I were put into acting when we were eight months old by our mother because we needed the money… it was never my passion. To be honest, if she never thrust me into it, I probably never would have thought of it as a career choice for myself.” Sprouse took some time to attend university and work as a regular person for a while, but the role of Jughead brought him back into the entertainment industry – and we couldn’t be happier.
Sources: heavy.com, heavy.com, vulture.com