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One of the highlights of Comic-Con 2017 was the appearance of the stars and producers of Riverdale, who took to the stage of Hall H and provided some details on what we can expect in the show's second season. What follows is an edited transcript from that panel.
Participants are executive producers Roberto Aguirre-Sacassa and Sarah Schechter, and cast members K.J. Apa, Camila Mendes (Veronica Lodge), Lili Reinhart (Betty Cooper), Cole Sprouse (Jughead Jones), Madelaine Petsch (Cheryl Blossom), Ashleigh Murray (Josie McCoy), Hayley Law (Valerie Brown), Asha Bromfield (Melody Valentine) and Casey Cott (Kevin Keller).
Question: We have so much goodness for season two to talk about right now, but of course we have to address the biggest finale cliffhanger. Fred Andrews was shot. We do not know what is going to happen, but I do know that Roberto and Sarah can chime in and give us a little tease as to what we're going to see in the season two premiere.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacassa: We're going to find out Fred's ultimate fate at the end of the premiere. The first episode is basically Archie, the gang, all of the town, sort of sitting, waiting to find out what's going to happen with Fred. It will be revealed at the end of the first episode. We're all pulling for him, though.
Q: Well K.J., how is Fred getting shot going to affect Archie's worldview? He's typically such an optimistic guy, but how his BFF is going to a new school, his dad just got shot… Are we gearing up for dark Archie?
KJ Apa: One hundred percent, like Roberto said, Archie's pretty much freshly dealing with Fred being shot in that first episode, so there's a lot of things going on. There's almost a switch that goes off, and I think 100%, it's a completely different side to Archie that we haven't really seen yet.
Q: There’s going to be 22 episodes in season two. Sarah, how does having nine additional episodes shape the writers' room? Do you have more room to play this year?
Sarah Schechter: It's funny, we thought that we'd have a ton of room to sort of do one-off episodes and sort of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but there are so many great characters, and there are so many stories to tell that it's just more of that kind of pedal to the metal aggressive storytelling and juggling all these characters. What's so fun is seeing different characters interact, and that's one of the things we'll have a chance to do with more time.
Q: Roberto, was there anything you didn’t get to fit into season one that you’d like to get in season two?
Roberto: Like Sarah said, we have a huge cast, and we're going to see more of Kevin Keller this year, we're going to see more of Josie, we're going to see more of The Pussycats. We're going to be able to do as much crime stuff as we want, and then have enough for the characters, and the relationships, and the romances. It's really a bigger canvas and that's the best thing.
Cole Sprouse on Jughead and Bughead — What's Next?
Q: How are you doing, Cole?
Cole Sprouse: Why are you singling me out right now?
Q: Because it's time to talk about Jughead right now. He's going to a brand new school this year, and when we last saw him in the season one finale, he put on a Southside Serpents jacket. What's his mindset as he's going into season two?
Cole: I think Jughead for season two is placed kind of in the middle of two worlds that are starting to collide and really erupt. As the season has progressed, it's going to start forcing him to really pick a side, which is quite a dangerous space for him to be in, because he's a very morally gray character. I think that's going to have huge repercussions for his narrative, and for his relationships with the rest of the cast. We'll see.
Q: How is his relationship with Betty going?
Cole: It also gets tested. His character is now very much the outsider. He started as a kind of intellectually foreign character at the beginning of season one, and now he is physically away from the entire cast, which is a strange place for him to be in.
Q: We saw when he was over at the new high school, he surprisingly was fitting in really well. Do you think that he's going to be embracing the Serpents and embracing these new students as kind of like a newfound family?
Cole: I don't think it's going to be as easy as he assumes. Already from what we've been shooting, without spoiling too much, I think he has an idea of fitting in, and he's quite a special snowflake ... or he thinks he's quite a special snowflake, and he'll stand out. The problem with a dangerous system, like Southside High, is that standing out can be physically threatening. We'll start seeing a little bit of that narrative for our poor special snowflake Jughead.
Q: And this is a question that Roberto and Sarah can chime in on, too. Any word on Juggie's mom and Jellybean making an appearance?
Roberto: We've talked about it. I think it might be something that happens in the second half of the season, yeah.
Sarah: We have to find the right casting for both of them. The casting's everything on this show. We want to do it right. But nobody cares about Bughead, right?
Sarah: That was sarcastic.
Lili Reinhart — Revealing More About Betty
Q: Lili, we saw Betty battling a lot of inner demons in season one. As she goes into season two, are you personally excited to kind of explore that a little bit more, and kind of get into her mindset?
Lili Reinhart: Yeah, definitely from an acting perspective it's a challenge, so it's good to take that on. I think as the scripts have been coming in, and as we've started filming, there's a lot of ... I don't know. Last season we saw some Dark Betty, but this season it's more like Tortured Soul Betty. I'm really excited to play it, but also it's a little heart wrenching for my character and for my sweet little Betty. But, yeah, we explore that darkness a lot more, and I think we see Betty come to terms with it a little bit more in season two rather than just cover it with a black wig.
Q: As she's coming to terms with this darkness and trying to figure it out, are we going to be seeing her lean more on Jughead, Veronica, or Archie as she goes through this?
Lili: I think it's quite even. I think she finds a different comfort in every single one of them, but I do think you definitely see more of Betty and Archie's friendship and their support system. They have been best friends their whole lives and that's something that you really get to see in season two, which makes me happy because it just gives a little bit more background to these two people who grew up next to each other.
Q: And as much as I love Betty's signature iconic ponytail, are we going to get to see her let her hair down a little bit this season?
Roberto: Yeah, we will see Betty loosen her ponytail a little bit more this season. I always say to Lily, I was like "It's iconic, you have to wear a ponytail," and Lili's, like, "I have a headache from wearing it."
Camila Mendes Meets Her Father
Q: Camila, we have Mark Consuelos coming on in season two to play your dad. What was it like welcoming him into the Lodge family?
Camila Mendes: It was effortless, honestly. He blended in as soon as he got here. He plays the role with such confidence and subtlety. He's not trying to push this Godfather-esque character. He just is so calm and collected. At the end of the day he's a businessman, and he knows how to put on a face and charm people. But the whole time, I'm still suspicious. I don't trust him.
Q: I was going to say, how would you describe their father-daughter bond?
Camila: It's layered. I think there's a part of Veronica that really wants to know that he's better now and that he's going to try to be a good person. But at the same time, he's still doing the same things he was always doing, and keeping secrets with Hermione, and they're kind of not letting Veronica cross that bridge, and she's just trying to get to them, and be, like, "Let me be part of this family, I want to be a Lodge, I want to help."
Q: K.J., have you shared any scenes with Marc Consuelos?
KJ Apa: We've got some crazy stuff together in season two. Some real funny stuff.
Camila: They have a really cool relationship.
Q: How would you describe it?
KJ: Scary, for me. I mean, obviously dating his daughter, kind of...he's a bit skeptical with that. But he's a hard man. So it's good.
Camila: He has a plan.
Q: Camila, I'm excited to say that we can reveal something very special here. There's another man coming back into Veronica's life. What would you like to tell the audience?
Camila: I've got an ex from New York coming. And he's a bad boy. And he brings out Veronica's dark side, which I don't think we really got to see in season one.
Q: K.J., how does that make you feel?
Sarah: Dark Veronica is much darker than Dark Betty.
Camila: Yeah, there's no going back.
Q: K.J., how does Archie feel about that?
KJ: At this stage, Archie's really not in the right head space to be dealing with that at all, so never know what to expect.
Charles Melton is the New Reggie
Q: We've got even more fresh faces coming to Riverdale this year. It was announced that Supergirl star Brit Morgan is going to be coming in as Penny Peabody, and of course, as we mentioned, we've got a brand new Reggie joining the group. Why was Charles Melton the perfect choice to step into Reggie's shoes?
Roberto: You know, when we were first casting Reggie for season one, it took us forever to find the guy who kind of embodied that, and that was Ross Butler. And then when Ross had to leave, we had to make a really tough decision. Do we retire the character, or do we try to replace this great actor? For me, and I think for the producers and for the cast, Reggie's such an important part of the show, and he's such a big element, he's Archie's kind of day-to-day rival, that I said "Listen, if we can find the right actor we'll do it, if we can't we'll retire Reggie." And Charles was one of the first actors who came in, and he had it tough because since we had had everyone else cast, we made him read with K.J., we made him read with Cole, and we made him read with Ashleigh because he has stories with all three of them. And the chemistry was kind of instantaneous.
KJ: As soon as I met the guy I knew. The guy was doing pushups and things before he went into his audition.
Q: Is that the way to your friendship?
KJ: No, he's perfect for Reggie, completely embodies the character.
Q: Is that why you like to play so many pranks on him?
KJ: Not on each other, we do it together. We're a bloody good team as well, I'd say that.
Vanessa Morgan is Playing the Bisexual Character Toni Topaz
Q: And I'm also pleased to announce that there is another new character coming to Riverdale, Toni Topaz is joining the group. You'll know her from the Archie Comics. Sarah, what can you speak to about Toni and who will be playing her?
Sarah: Well, what's interesting is the actress playing her was someone we met the first year for one of the parts that someone else was playing, and we just loved the actress so much that when the opportunity came up to bring her, she felt like she belonged in Riverdale, so we're very excited.
Q: How would you describe her character? Where does she fit into this world?
Roberto: Toni Topaz is a student at Southside High. She is a Southside Serpent. She's sort of Jughead's guide into the Serpent world. There's a lot about her that makes it seem like, almost like we jokingly say, that she's got a lot of the same interests as Jughead, so it's almost like she's a female Jughead. She's trouble.
Q: Trouble in what way, Roberto?
Roberto: I think she's trouble getting Jughead into this gang, I think she might be trouble for Bughead, I don't know, I don't know.
Q: Interesting. I can hear the boos and hisses in the audience right now. Now the interesting thing about Toni Topaz is that in the comics, it was hinted that she could be bisexual. Is this something that we're also going to be exploring on the onscreen version?
Roberto: That's something that's in the comic books and has been for a while, and we thought it would be really, really fun to have a bisexual character from the comics on the show. So, yes, she's going to be trouble for a lot of the people on this panel.
Riverdale Romances, Including Jughead And Betty
Q: Which leads us to our romance checkup. I understand that we're getting some new love interests and some new love. How you doing down there?
Casey Cott: I'm good.
Q: What's going on for Kevin? Any word on Joaquin?
Casey: You know, I think Joaquin got on that bus. I don't think he's coming back. The first few episodes are really fun for Kevin to kind of deal with that heartbreak in a very wonderfully written way by the writers and producers. So it's going to be really fun to show that. Then I do think there's going to be a new love interest that comes into play eventually, which you have to ask Roberto about that.
Sarah: He has to heal his heart first.
Casey: He's a delicate soul, as you guys know.
Q: What do you think that Kevin looks for in a guy?
Casey: I think Kevin learned a big lesson with Joaquin, not that he's not going to learn that lesson again. But someone that is interesting and authentic in themselves and different, in the same way that Kevin is, in many ways, pretty much that I would say.
Q: Ashleigh, the last time you and I talked we kept campaigning that we needed a love interest for Josie. I understand you might have some news for us.
Ashleigh Murray: Josie might be battin' a couple of eyelashes at Reggie Mantle. But we'll see.
Q: Anybody else on the panel getting any new loves, or want to throw that out right now to Roberto?
Sarah: Obviously with Archie's dad fighting for his life it's a serious situation, but poor Cheryl. Nobody's family went through a worse season one than Cheryl. She's got a lot of healing to do. Are you up for that, Madelaine?
Cole: The baby crying in the audience right now is the perfect soundtrack to this conversation.
Q: We're going to be talking about the babies, don't you worry.
Cole: Got it.
Sarah: I think when your father is a wig-wearing monster, it's hard to find appropriate love interests.
Madelaine Petsch: Yep, that's the truth.
Q: We got those "I love yous" in the finale. What would you guys like to see from them in season two?
Lili: Wow. Well, I think honestly, with Jughead kind of going to Southside and stepping into Serpent territory, it's very scary for Betty. She doesn't want to lose her man, and also doesn't want him to get into any danger. I think it becomes a little bit of a Romeo and Juliet situation that she hopes has a happy ending. They both do.
Cole: I want to see Betty just ride or die, you know what I mean? Just on some hogs, just riding into the wilderness.
Lili: There might be a pink leather jacket for Betty in the future. There might be some motorcycles going on.
Cole: I think the relationship is definitely going to be tested, especially through the first real narrative of the second season. But it's one of those things where now more than ever ... I mean, season one, the way that we've kind of talked about season one was very much the origin story for a lot of these characters. And now the way that the characters’ lives are sort of progressing is really stressful, it's dark, and the truth is is that Jughead is one of those characters that really gets tested the most by the world around him. That puts Betty, really, in a position of possible judgment where she and her morality have to make the choice to either be there for this kid, or call it quits for the betterment of herself. It's interesting, we'll see where it goes.
Q: And for Veronica and Archie, are we just going to see their love continue to blossom?
Camila: Since Archie's going through all of that drama with his father, I think Veronica's being challenged to step up and be a strong girlfriend, and I don't think she's really used to being in those kinds of serious relationships. Especially because they just started their relationship and all of a sudden she's helping him go through something very traumatic.
Roberto: And I think we can tease that probably the sexiest scene in Riverdale's history is in episode 201, and it's between Veronica and Archie.
Camila: It is quite steamy.
Roberto: It's very steamy.
Josie and the Pussycats
Q: Well something that I think is heating up is how amazing The Pussycats have been. What has it meant to you three to be the modern day representation of such an iconic group?
Hayley Law: Oh wow. It's amazing. It's such a blessing to have the three of us. As you know, we aren't the exact replica of the comic book Josie and the Pussycats, but it's amazing to be able to showcase how talented Josie and the Pussycats are, and bring to life ... I loved the movie in 2001, I know I'm sure you guys have probably all seen it, but it's amazing to be able to share with you our love for the group.
Asha Bromfield: It's honestly such a journey of self love for all of us. Even with just wearing our natural hair, and representing what we do. It's been so confirming and such a blessing, because it's not all the time you get the opportunity to do that. Especially on TV. So we're really grateful.
Hayley: It's an amazing opportunity, really.
Q: What type of musical moments can we expect in season two?
Asha: In episode two of the season we are literally singing the dopest song ever. I won't give it away but everybody knows it. It's a classic.
Q: Ashleigh, are we going to be seeing any more dynamics with Josie and her family? Because her mom is the mayor, she's quite powerful.
Ashleigh: I'm really hoping so. Specifically with Josie and her mom, I'd like to see some more interaction with Josie and her father. Because I think that plays a big part in who she is and who she's going to decide she wants to become. So, yeah, I'm really hoping that there's more family interaction.
Roberto: We all love Robin Givens, who plays Mayor McCoy, and Josie's mom. She's incredible, so we definitely have big, big stories planned for her and Josie, because they're also going to be tested this season.
Q: Just real quick, is Veronica still rocking those Pussycat ears in season two?
Camila: I am. Veronica's still a Pussycat.
Q: Love to hear that. Madelaine, you burned down Thornhill in the season one finale. Girl, where you living?
Cole: Where's Nana Rose?
Madelaine: That's a solid question, Cole. All of which will be revealed in season two. I do have a house somewhere. Sort of.
Cole: Hey I know that pain, man.
Q: In that teaser trailer we saw a very chilling scene. What was it like playing that, and what can you tease about what Cheryl's going to be going through with her Blossom family?
Madelaine: Well, Cheryl gets colder and meaner in season two, because of all the things that happened in season one. But she takes the reins back from her parents ... parent. Just the one. She takes the reins back, and she starts taking control of her life a lot more, which I think is going to be fun for her to do. She needs that.
Q: And we've got some babies on the way for the Cooper and Blossom families. I've got to know, how do you guys think that Cheryl and Betty are going to be as aunties?
Madelaine: I actually think we're going to have a lot of fun. We have a very interesting dynamic on the show.
Cole:: We're going to have to have babies on the set? Look, I started as a baby. I can tell you, we're horrible.
Camila: I also started as a baby in life.
Q: That actually leads me into my last question before we open it up to you guys in the in the audience. Instead of the classic cliché that a lot of other teen shows have done in the past of pitting girls against each other, it's so nice to see that Riverdale has so many beautiful female friendships and they're genuine. What is it like for you guys to be able to have those relationships on TV, and to be able to show that to the girls out there?
Camila: Episode 205, let me just say, is a really big girls sticking together. This Nick St. Claire guy, the ex boyfriend that comes into town, and he does some really bad things. And it involves Veronica and Cheryl, and because of that it brings all of the girls together to kind of fight it. It's kind of in the same light as episode three in season one.
Sarah: It's something that Roberto and I talked about from the very beginning, which is that dynamic of girls fighting each other is just not interesting. It feels very played out, and I think it was important to us that all of the women on the show are very different, but they all find a way to get along because that's what women in this world need to do.
Camila: Even Veronica and Cheryl, who obviously are always going head-to-head, they still find a way to support each other, which I think is ...
Sarah: Deep down, Cheryl really just wants to be a part of the gang.
Questions From the Riverdale Fans
Zoey: K.J., as the New Zealander on the set, I was wondering if the rest of the cast members have picked up any kiwi slang?
KJ: As soon as I started working with these guys, the first week was gnarly for me, I had to really cut down on the New Zealand slang.
Grace: Hi, I'm Grace. My question is for everyone: are there any traits from another character that you'd like your character to have?
Cole: I just want to be as ripped as Archie. I think Jughead season two is just beefcake.
Camila: I'd have to make it to the gym first.
Cole: Yeah, I'm going to have to cut down.
Madelaine: Betty's kindness, maybe.
Ashleigh: I love Camila's confidence. I feel like Veronica is super confident. I like that.
Lili: I think Betty kind of channels some of Cheryl's inner demon. Or Jughead's ability to eat.
KJ: I'd love a bit of Kevin's humor. Archie's not the funniest guy in the world.
Casey: I think maybe a little bit of Cheryl's confidence in who she is, and fearlessness to burn down houses.
Ashleigh: I wouldn't mind being a little dark. I wouldn't mind being real dark.
Sarah: Josie's got some demons.
Paris: I'm Paris and I was wondering who's most like their character on the cast?
Camila: I feel like we all carry some traits. I'm so not Veronica. I think K.J. as Archie. He's just as boring.
Madelaine: K.J. is the furthest thing from Archie.
Cole: Madelaine is going method with Cheryl, so that's ...
KJ: I actually am a pretty boring person, I'm not going to lie.
Lili: Oh, stop it.
KJ: No, no, no.
Casey: K.J. is a fearless leader, I think, of the show. And he's on set everyday, he's always prepared, he's always encouraging, so I think Archie has that. Not to make it sentimental.
Camila: Wow, Casey.
KJ: Cheers, mate.
Casey: I'll throw that out for K.J.
KJ: Cheers, brother.
Lauren: Hi, my name's Lauren and my question is, if you could be any other character besides yourself, who would you be and why?
Ashleigh: I would be Jughead because, like, burgers all the time.
Cole: No, dude. 16 burgers deep into three takes is not something you want. Alright?
Ashleigh: That's exactly what I want.
Cole: Also, they're prop burgers. Okay? Season two is better, but season one was some freeze dried A&W crust...it's like the crabby patty, like the vegetarian patty that looks really gross.
Camila: They're the chum bucket.
Q: Besides being Jughead, would anyone else want to step into anybody else's shoes?
Camila: I would love to be Betty. I love Betty's vulnerability, I think it's beautiful. She wears her heart on her sleeve and I think that's really fun to play, too.
Lili: I think it would be really fun to play Cheryl.
Gabby: Hi, I'm Gabby and I was just wondering if any of the actors had read the original comics, and if they took anything from those characters to put in the characters now.
Cole: Of course.
Lili: Definitely, definitely. My mama had a huge box of comics, she still has them and she's had them since she was a teen, and I went nuts on them. So I still have them, and I ... yeah, I think a lot of us are big fans of them.
Asha: Yeah, oh the pilot I read so many comics, so I was, like, "Oh, they're probably going to copy the storylines," and then they didn't. It was a waste of reading.
Cole: I think it would be really inappropriate not to read any of the comics when you play these characters, so that should be said. But also we were given a tremendous package of research materials when we got the parts.
Asha: I was not. I just did the research on my own.
Hayley: Still waiting.
Cole: The good thing is is that Archie's been around for 75 years, which gives us as actors tremendous potential to dive in and cherry pick character traits that we want to fit into a show like this. So in terms of being able to do research, we had the huge benefit of having the largest source material that we could for these characters, which we've all used quite a bit. And Roberto is the single biggest Archie fan.
Roberto: Every time we do a storyline in Riverdale and we're, like, "Okay, well that was never done in the comic books," Cole or someone emails me a panel and it's literally ... it's been done because there are hundreds of thousands of stories. So even someone last year sent me a picture of Archie kissing the old Ms. Grundy in the comic books.
Johanna: Hi, my name's Johanna and my question is, is there any rituals that you guys do before you go on set? What do you do?
Ashleigh: I sing to myself.
Hayley: I listen to "Highway to the Danger Zone." It gets you pumped up. Really for anything, that's how I prepare for everything.
Cole: I don't eat, that's for sure. Got to be hungry as hell when I walk into Pop's.
Madelaine: I feel like putting on my red lipstick is ritual enough. Lots of coffee.
Ashleigh: Yeah, lots of coffee, lots of coffee, lots of tea. We have an amazing craft table; there's always fresh ginger tea.
Camila: I think the best thing is running lines in the makeup trailer with the other cast. That's really what gets me in, and then we just keep doing it over and over again until it's in our blood.
Lili: Well for me, I put up that ponytail and ... it's there.
Cole: And the headaches start.
Camila: She's method.
Cole: Putting on the crown is also one of those things where you put on the beanie and it's immediately a character.
Camila: it's funny how objects can do that. Even when it's not my take and I'm not on camera, I still ask to have my heels on, because I can't do Veronica in slippers. That's just not going to happen.
Cole: Yeah. I mean, the same way that that Southside jacket makes you feel a certain power when you're walking up and asking the questions, that goes for all of our wardrobe. Anytime you slip into a character's skin and you have the specific piece of wardrobe, it allows you to channel that character a lot more effectively.
Casey: I never leave the character Kevin.
Charlie: In season one when Cheryl's underwater and Archie's still breaking through the ice, Cheryl sees Jason as a zombie. Is there going to be anything else in season two that's supernatural like that?
Roberto: That's a very, very, very good question. You know, I love horror stuff and I love ... dreams and jump scares and things like that, so we're always trying to figure out ways to put hints of that in Riverdale. We have been talking about one very prominent supernatural character that exists in the Archie universe, and ...
Sarah: I'm going to cut you off right now, that's enough.
Roberto: That's all I can say.
Sarah: Oh, and we're out of time.
Season 2 of Riverdale will premiere on October 11, 2017 on the CW.
Watch: 5 Fun Facts About Riverdale