Madelaine Petsch Promises A New Cheryl Blossom This Year on ‘Riverdale’
V sits down with the actress in this exclusive interview.
V sits down with the actress in this exclusive interview.
Text: Ilana Kaplan
The first year of Riverdale not only centered around Archie Andrews, but the town cheer captain and sassy vixen Cheryl Blossom, who proved to be quite a complex character by the end of season one. At 23, Madelaine Petsch landed her dream role on a TV series with Riverdale. And it has in fact become a hit. Now the “proud” natural redhead is entering her second season on the CW show based on Archie Comics. It’s clear the novelty hasn’t worn off for her. “When I see a billboard [of Riverdale] I freak out,” exclaims Petsch. But Petsch still has more aspirations on her mind. “In the future I’d like to break into the film industry and do a SXSW or Sundance film,” she says. “I’d love to start directing and producing one day.”
With Riverdale returning this week, we caught up with Petsch about the symbolism behind Cheryl Blossom’s style, spoilers for this season and living her dream.
Your character is perhaps the most intriguing on the show. How will we see Cheryl Blossom grow this season?
This season is all about growth for Cheryl. At the end of the season one, she burns her house down and attempts to take her own life. She learns from that: Archie saves her, and she’s like a phoenix being reborn from the ashes. Her burning the house down is her telling her mom she needs to watch out because she’s the one taking control this year. This is all about her taking control from her mom and standing up to abuse that she’s been through and will continue to go through. She won’t keep quiet anymore. She’ll have an undertone of needing love. Last season was about mourning, and this season will be about her needing love, looking for love and potentially finding love.
At first Cheryl came off as a mean girl, but you end up having so much sympathy for her.
They write her like that. She gets to have layers. I get to have the cake and eat it too.
How does Cheryl’s style play into her character?
Cheryl emotes herself in her style, her nail polish and her makeup. In episodes five and six, she goes through something pretty heavy and one of the ways she emotes that is that she changes her nail color. It’s not bright red anymore. Little things like that are her way of expressing herself because she was put down so much of her life and she wasn’t supposed to be vocalizing any of the pain she had. So, she puts all of her love and her effort into taking care of herself. Every day her makeup is done, her hair is done and her outfits are on point. When they’re not, that’s when you know something is about to happen. In episode 12 and 13 [of the first season], everyone notices something is wrong with her in that regard. She takes it very seriously in the way she dresses and takes care of herself.
Do we talk about the ‘twincest’ storyline again in season 2?
No. It was a funny joke, but it wasn’t something that was going on. Jason isn’t really prevalent in this season. It’s not about him anymore. It’s about Cheryl, but there’s also a huge underlying mystery that is directly related to the town.
I know there were rumors of the show going in a supernatural direction. Is that happening?
No. [laughs] I feel like that rumor was spread to throw people off track.
What designers do you wear as Cheryl this year?
This season I wear Margiela, Valentino, Louboutin, and I do wear a lot of Topshop still. I wear Babaton, which is from Aritzia in Vancouver. Basically anything sold at Nordstrom too. All of her outfits put together are generally about $3000 or more, and it’s usually all in the shoes.
How will Cheryl’s attempt on her life change her? How will it be addressed this season?
It’s not a huge part of the show, but they do address it. Cheryl seeks help and takes care of that in her own way. I think she sees Archie saving her life as something that was meant to be, so she doesn’t want to do that anymore. She gets medicated, seeks help and moves onto other things that will overtake her mental health. There’s definitely an undercurrent of Cheryl being depressed, but she’s not teetering on the edge. A life of therapy wouldn’t be enough.
Do you have any spoilers you can reveal about the new season?
Yes. It’s very exciting.
Is there a plotline on her sexuality? I know that was circulating.
There might be!
How did Riverdale change your career? What else are you working on?
Riverdale was my career. I had done a few movies before, but I had never done anything of this stature. I never thought in a million year I’d be getting scripts to read that people were interested in me doing. I got to do a Weinstein film during my hiatus called Polaroid in December. It’s my first movie coming out in theaters. It’s just become a platform for me to use for all the things I care about like environmentalism. It’s been great for more projects, doing more and feeling creatively fulfilled. It’s literally helped my career do at 360 because of this.
What’s your relationship with the cast?
I know that every cast says this, but our cast is genuinely best friends. On days off, we’re together. I was with Cami all weekend this weekend. We do sleepovers. We’re always together. It’s really great.
One of the things people talk about is how all the other characters are more interesting than Archie.
We definitely poke fun at KJ [Apa] for it. This season Archie becomes complex. He kind of lets the darkness overcome him a little bit this season. It does get a little hot...I’ll tell you that much.
How did you guys react to the twist at the end of the season? Were you in the dark about that?
Roberto, our showrunner, lead writer and creator, is like that. He wants us to know as much as our characters would know and maybe not even that much. He likes to be there to watch our faces as we read. It’s a part of his excitement about the show.
What do you hope for Cheryl’s plotline?
The way that it’s going now I’m pretty happy with. She continues dealing wiht hte complexities of being a teenage girl and a lot of things our generation is unfortunately dealing with. I get to be lucky in playing the person who gets to go through those things to light. I’d like her to continue pursuing a love interest. I think that would make her open up in a way she maybe hasn’t opened up before. She’s had to be so protective of herself for so long. I think it’ll show a more loving side of herself, and they’ll see a loving side of Cheryl. I’d like her to take the power away from her mom, which she’s trying to currently. I’d want her to continue being a little villainous as well.