This weekend brings us Mother’s Day, and inevitably, your favorite TV sites will probably be making lists of television’s best mothers — the Carol Bradys, the Marion Cunninghams, and so on. But what about when it’s one of the worst?
KSiteTV had the opportunity to talk to Cheryl Blossom’s “mommie dearest” herself, Nathatlie Boltt, about the character Penelope that she plays so deliciously on The CW’s Riverdale, which will see its Season 2 finale this Wednesday, May 16 on the network. As rotten as Penelope can sometimes be to her daughter, Boltt’s performance is as delicious as the Blossom family’s maple syrup.
Boltt has an amazing sense of humor and got into character several times in the course of this interview. Don’t worry about too many spoilers here, as it’s all about Riverdale’s scarlet witch of a mother in this interview.
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: Does Penelope Blossom have any good qualities as a mother?
I think she has excellent qualities as a mother. I mean, look at how well behaved her one remaining child is!
You know, Penelope likes things to be strict. She would rather not spoil the child and definitely use the rod. What is the British expression, “spare the rod and spoil the child?” Not that, the opposite! And I think she’s taught Cheryl a lot, like how to dress in tweed, even if the skirt barely covers her. And she knows how to shoot with a bow and arrow, and that is a good quality in any child.
Do you think her and Cheryl were ever any closer than they are now?
I think there was a time when they were closer, when Penelope had someone else breastfeed Cheryl, because of course, Penelope found that absolutely disgusting. So Penelope used to watch those goings-on when Cheryl was a baby. That was probably when they were close. You know, Penelope paid a lot of people to play with her children, Jason included, and she would watch from the window, and that kind of fun bonding activity.
How much fun has it been to play this role?
Oh, super much fun. Ten hundred fun. [Laughs] I couldn’t imagine a more fun role. The crazier, the better. I mean, I sometimes come into the episode read-throughs, and the writers come to me with their heads hung low, going “I’m so sorry! Sorry for torturing you,” and I’m like “ARE YOU KIDDING? Bring it on, the crazier, the better!” I’ve tended to play very responsible roles in the past, and so to play Penelope is like a holiday with no rules.
Do you think Penelope often has a much clearer idea of what’s going on with the people around her than they think? For example, Hal Cooper?
I think Penelope kind of is on Penelope’s own mission, and she doesn’t judge, because she has to judge herself. So, she quite understands Hal Cooper’s take on things. He just has to kind of find his own status quo with Riverdale and his past. I mean, Hal has not had an easy ride. Look at his wife! She’s just awful! And so you have to express yourself, somehow.
As an actress, what is it like to work with Madelaine Petsch?
Madelaine has a big challenge as Cheryl, because she is given massive chunks of monologue that she has to deliver very, very rapidly, so often I just stand back and kind of at the end of it go, “Wow. Respect.” And I pat her on the back.
As roles go, Cheryl is a wonderful role, and she also has the great joy of being the mean girl and doing revolting things, but then basically having people love her because I’m even worse. [Laughs] It’s an interesting position to be in, where you have fans going “don’t you touch my Cheryl! And Choni for life! Hashtag #Choni!”
I think working with Madelaine has been wonderful and I have a lot of respect for her. She’s super sharp. She works at double speed to most people; her brain works really quickly and her mouth works really quicky. I think that’s why they give her so much to do, plus the fact that she’s okay to look at!
Was it hard to keep a straight face in moments like when Cheryl showed up at the door with blood splattered all over herself?
It was when they mentioned that the blood was flammable that I had trouble keeping a straight face, especially because she was holding a candelabra! That was very funny for me. So, yes. It kind of was, but I also remember we were really cold. It was a case of “let’s just get this done and get back in our cozy shoes and jackets!”
Have you ever been curious about Penelope’s upbringing or what her own mother might have been like?
I think her mother must have been Constance Langdon on American Horror Story, played by Jessica Lange. That’s where Penelope learned her best traits, like drinking, and then taking your problems out on your children, possibly chaining some of them in the attic, and then maybe digging them up and dragging the dead bodies around. I don’t know. I mean, who knows what she does in her spare time with Jason? The lost twin. Those are the scenes we don’t see in Riverdale! Maybe we still will. I’m hoping.
Do you think we’ll ever see Penelope with her twin grandchildren again?
Oh, yes! I think Penelope has huge plans for those twin grandchildren. They’re very dark, and they involve kidnapping, and possibly going overseas somewhere. [Laughs] Possibly escaping with them dressed in disguise, and Penelope setting up a brothel in Switzerland, and keeping them on for entertainment. I think that would be good. Yup. That would be fine.
Do you think Penelope might ever have her own brothel franchise?
Absolutely. What should we call it? Penelope’s Pleasure Dome? Come home to Mother Blossom!
Would you ever like to see Penelope actually being friendly with the other Riverdale moms, or do you think that might be boring?
I think it would be great if she was very friendly, because she’s quite strategic. She can be charismatic when she wants to be. And so she would have very good reasons. I think she should definitely become great friends with ex-Mayor McCoy, and then show her true colors as to why she wanted that. So, yes. I think Penelope should become great friends with them… and she should really become great friends with Alice Cooper, and then when that turns ugly, there should be a lot of fighting. Possibly horse riding naked drunk in a race between the two of them. That would be ideal. I’m thinking riding crops. And a duel with Hermione at dawn on the Blossom manor. That would be great. That’s what I’m thinking of my friendships.
If Cheryl could get her mother any gift for Mother’s Day, what would Penelope want from her daughter?
If Cheryl could give me a gift… she could give me my damn house back! And possibly… I don’t know, I’m thinking a pint of her blood just for fun. Just to keep in my fridge to look at.
Now that Clifford is gone, does Penelope see any use for Nana Blossom sticking around?
Look, there was never any use in keeping Nana Blossom around except for that favorite game to push her down the stairs and see how long it takes her to get to the phone to call 911. That’s my favorite game. That, and make her watch that terrible art show all day long and not letting her go to the bathroom, as we saw in one of my favorite episodes. That’s what I keep Nana around for.
I thought I was going to inherit something from her. That didn’t work out so well. So as far as I’m concerned, Penelope is going to find all kinds of ways of torturing her for entertainment.
Is there anything that a mother could learn to avoid from watching Penelope?
Don’t wear too many tight clothes that look like you’re in a corset, because it makes you angry. [Laughs] Corsets make you angry, and also, what I’ve learned is to try not to get your children to set you on fire, because that doesn’t work out in your favor.
Do you have any final words to say to the fans who watch every week and just adore everything Penelope does?
Yes. My children, I will provide hours of entertainment, terrible advice, and possibly some things that you shouldn’t try at home, at least not with your parents watching.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! Don’t miss the Season 2 finale of Riverdale this Wednesday on The CW – photos from the season finale can be found here!