We’re going into this interview with bias: If ever there was a breakout character in The CW’s Riverdale, premiering Thursday night, January 26 at 9PM ET/PT on The CW, it would be the sassy, controlling, and occasionally creepy force of nature that is Cheryl Blossom, as played by actress Madelaine Petsch. Riverdale begins with her and her brother, on a summer day at the river’s edge that is struck with tragedy, as Cheryl’s twin brother, Jason, has drowned.
If the name “Cheryl Blossom” sounds familiar to you, it’s because she’s one of the iconic characters of the Archie Comics universe, introduced over 30 years ago at a time where the character’s existence in itself was considered a bit too risque. Cheryl came back into prominence with a “Love Showdown” story in the 1990s and has been a fixture of the Archie Comics scene ever since. Petsch, however, is the first actress to play the role in live action.
Late last year, we spoke with Madelaine Petsch on the set of Riverdale for some ideas on Cheryl from her perspective. (Find more of our Riverdale interviews and content here!)
“I play Cheryl Blossom, the lead villain on the show,” she tells us. “First off, being a redhead in the industry, I feel like you very rarely get redhead-specific roles, so the minute I read this — and I knew who Cheryl was, I’ve read the Archie comics my whole life – I was extremely excited. A) because she’s a bad girl, and who doesn’t want to play the bad girl… it’s the most fun role to play; and B) because she’s a redhead, and it’s so close to home. Archie’s so close to my family, and when my parents heard that I booked it, it was such a big thing for the whole family to rejoice over, because it’s not something that I have to explain to them. They fully know who the Archie Comics are and who we are. It’s an iconic character. Big shoes to fill, but since we’re so close so far away from the actual Archie comics universe, I think that it’s the perfect blend of both of them for me.”
Is it fun being able to unleash her inner “mean girl” and has Madelaine ever broken up delivering some of her lines? “You know, some of the things that I say are very, very witty, and so it does make it — especially because all of those people are all my best friends, so being mean to them outwardly all of the time is a little difficult, let me tell you straightforward, but with that being said, it is nice to unleash the bad side a little bit, and they write me such great, witty lines that I’ll read it when I’m getting the script and I die of laughter sometimes because it’s so well-written,” she admins. “Things that I could never even come up with, but that Cheryl perfectly because she’s the witty, sarcastic, humorous, and bitchy character [could deliver].”
How does Cheryl feel about the notion that many in the town just assume she killed Jason? “It does affect Cheryl very deeply,” Madelaine says. “I think the beauty of my character, specifically, is that she’s not a typical villain. Most villains are there to serve their purpose, and that’s about it. Cheryl gets the emotional side as well. So you get to see where she comes from and why it affects her so much. People do obviously assume that I did it. The majority of the town does. And so that does affect very poorly on her, including her parents. Her parents also wonder ‘what does she know?’ You find out more in the episodes that there’s a lot more that I haven’t told anybody, that I do know about his death. And it does affect her in a very emotional way, because she feels like she has nobody. She’s alone, and lost her closest confidante. He’s now dead, and she doesn’t have any friends. She’s got minions who kind of hate her and want to take her spot, so she’s got this very weird situation where she’s all alone, she’s lost her brother, and nobody believes her that she had nothing to do with it.”
Threre’s a whole lot more to this interview, including VIDEO! Navigate below for more: