As Riverdale‘s premiere fast approaches (January 26th), we’re here to give those who aren’t familiar with the Archie comics some vital knowledge on the core characters that make up Riverdale’s infamous group of friends.
Below we provide a little background on each of the comic book characters, before providing insight into the actors and actresses who will be playing them in the show.
Please be aware that there are some general spoilers for character arcs in the comics below.
Archie Andrews is a red-headed teenager in Riverdale who wears his heart on his sleeve. Despite having the best of intentions and trying his hardest to woo the girls, his clumsiness often gets in the way and lands him in a great deal of trouble. Archie’s two main crushes are Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge, creating the love triangle that forms a central focus of the narrative.
In the 2015 update writer Mark Waid retained some of the clumsiness of Archie’s character, but made him far less slapstick than classic Archie, which was a more for the better. He is also depicted by Fiona Staples as being far handsomer too, which makes far more sense in relation to Archie being able to stand a chance with the female characters that he pines after and in them reciprocating interest in him.
Played by K. J. Apa
K. J. Apa will play Archie in The CW’s Riverdale, dying his natural hair colour a dark ginger, to suit the role. As with most of the cast, K. J. is a relative unknown, having only been in two very small shows prior to this (Shortland Street, The Cul De Sac). K.J. is undoubtedly a handsome actor, which makes the casting choice one more in line with the 2015 run than with classsic Archie.
Forsythe Pendleton “Jughead” Jones III
Named Forsythe Pendleton Jones III at birth, due to his upper class heritage, he prefers to go by the nickname “Jughead”. The character has always held a very distinctive dress sense, which includes a hat that resembles a crown and a t-shirt that bears the letter ‘S’. Jughead is a laid back character who holds no interest in romance and who holds a deep love of food, particularly hamburgers.
In the 2015 update Fiona Staples kept the crown hat and the t-shirt with the ‘S’, while still managing to update the character visually to give him a much cooler and more youthful look. This run also stresses the fact that Jughead at one point lost all of his fortune, which gives him a genuine modesty, unlike characters like Veronica and Cheryl, who know nothing but the rich lifestyle.
Played by Cole Sprouse
Cole Sprouse will play Jughead in The CW’s Riverdale. Sprouse looks like he can ooze Jughead’s chilled persona effortlessly and his handsomeness no doubt will be a hit with female viewers too. Sprouse is known for playing Cody Martin in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and its side ventures, as well as playing Ben Geller in F.R.I.E.N.D.S., so he’s a familiar face among the youths of today and the older generation too.
Elizabeth “Betty” Cooper
Betty is the a-typical good girl next door, but one who is far from the dumb blonde stereotype; instead she is one of the smartest students at Riverdale High. She is friends with everyone, she helps the homeless, reads to senior citizens and rescues wounded animals. She’s environmentally aware and is often concerned about the environment and other social issues. Betty loves fashion, but she is also a scuba diver, a baseball player (she’s the best pitcher on the girls’ baseball team) and is excellent at fixing cars (you’ll often find her helping Archie fix his broken down car named Betsy).
In the 2015 update Betty is portrayed as “one of the guys” (there is literally a chapter titled this, in reference to Betty) and you’re more likely to find her playing video games than projecting any girly stereotypes. There is even a scene where she dons a great deal of make-up and then feels really uncomfortable due to it.
Played by Lili Reinhart
Lili Reinhart will play Betty in The CW’s Riverdale, in another example of pitch-perfect casting. Reinhart holds that attractive girl next door visage in spades and we can’t wait to see her take on this classic character. Reinhart hasn’t been in a great deal of well-known projects and is therefore a relative newcomer. She is perhaps best known for the films The Kings of Summer, Miss Stevens, Forever’s End and The Good Neighbour.
Veronica is the epitome of a superior rich girl who is used to having everything done for her. Veronica’s father at one point states that he moved his family to Riverdale to avoid Veronica becoming spoiled, like many of the children he knew and grew up with. Veronica is heavily into fashion and the latest trends. Upon moving to Riverdale, she falls in love with Archie Andrew, whom she affectionately calls “Archiekins”. Veronica has an infamous rivalry with Betty Cooper, due to their shared romantic affections for Archie. Veronica often schemes to beat Betty, but her plans often backfire on herself.
In the 2015 update Waid and Staples retained much of Veronica’s traits, including choosing to show the vulnerable and emotional side that lays behind her tough rich girl exterior.
Played by Camila Mendes
Camila Mendes plays Veronica Lodge in Riverdale. Camila is unique among this cast in that Riverdale is her very first acting project (at least that has been credited on IMDB). She more than holds the right look for Veronica and in her and Lili’s social media, the two toy around with flirtatious gestures towards one another, no doubt to tease Betty and Veronica fans ahead of the show.
The daughter of a software engineer, Cheryl Blossom is another wealthy resident of Riverdale. The character was introduced in 1982 as a third love interest for Archie, but she disappeared from the comics two years later, one of the reasons being that she was deemed too sexual for a children’s comic, before being reintroduced in 1994. Cheryl has a twin brother called Jason who is a rival of Archie’s. Cheryl is one of the only character who is not enrolled as a student at Riverdale High, but she enters as a student using false papers, to frame Archie, but her plan ultimately backfires and her parents then force her to attend Riverdale High as a punishement.
In the 2015 update Cheryl remains a diabolical force to be reckoned with. She dips in and out of this run and can be found ruling the private school Pembrooke Academy with an iron fist and a monogrammed sweater.
Played by Madelaine Petsch
Madelaine Petsch plays Cheryl in Riverdale. Madelaine has stated in interviews that Cheryl will be a villain for Season 1, which shows that the writers are sticking to the character’s roots. Madelaine has only been in three very small projects prior to Riverdale, making her another unknown and another true find. Madelaine undoubtedly sports the foxy and glamorous look needed for a character like Cheryl.
Riverdale begins on Thursday 26th January and will be covered weekly by us.
Image credits: The CW, MLJ Magazines, Archie Comic Publications