If you’re having a hard time distinguishing between Riverdale‘s on-screen and off-screen plot twists, you’re not alone. Ever since co-stars Lili Reinhart (Betty Cooper) and Cole Sprouse (Jughead Jones) were seen holding hands at Comic-Con, fans have spent just as much time speculating about their relationship status as they have developing theories about who shot Mr. Andrews.
Of course, Reinhart and Sprouse haven’t confirmed or denied anything—and don’t expect a clear answer about IRL Bughead anytime soon. One thing you can look forward to, however, is the return of Riverdale tomorrow, October 11. That also means we can get back to what made us love Betty and Jughead in the first place: A show that gives us sizzling chemistry, shocking twists, and the treasure that is Cheryl Blossom.
So, what’s in store for the second season? We’re not going to reveal the fate of Fred Andrews, but we can tell you that Betty does something pretty extraordinary for Jug. Still, trouble isn’t far behind. (This is Riverdale, after all.) As Sprouse warns us, “Our fans should be worried about anything they think is stable on this show.” And that’s not all he revealed about the upcoming season. Read on.
Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and most of the cast have been referring to season two as much “darker” than season one, especially…
Cole Sprouse: I guarantee you I have not been using that word! That word has been so buzzed around by now it’s making me sick. I hate that word. I don’t know when it was used, but it’s so vague. I really don’t think it does a service to season two at all. Yeah, genre-wise we end up moving towards horror, but I don’t know when the word “darker” was first pitched in. People just went ape-shit with it.
Speaking of “darker,” with all the violence happening right now in the world, how concerned are you as an actor with the amount of violence on this show, especially in the first few episodes?
Cole: Yeah, of course, I think media and the idolization of media figures has a huge impact on how we romanticize violence. As an actor, we get a little less agency than someone like a writer or a lead creative who is in charge of producing these narratives—but Riverdale and the tone of this classic Americana that we really sell speaks for a larger, stranger fondness for this older America that is running like a current underneath a lot of the U.S. political mindset right now. To ignore violence in our show would be stating that we don’t acknowledge that it exists within our actual society. We do have guns, we do have fights, and we do talk about violence. The only thing that’s kind of uncharacteristic of teenage life is weapon usage, or guns. Fights and machismo and grandstanding are all something that happen in normal male teenage life, but our show doesn’t treat [the use of weapons] lightly. In almost every episode for the protagonist that a gun is involved in, the gun is still the villain. Our show doesn’t handle it in a way that makes light of it.
Changing gears—and without giving too much away—Betty does something pretty incredible for Jughead and his family early on in season two, but die-hard viewers also know that Toni Topaz enters the picture. Should Bughead fans be worried that someone could come between them? Because it does seem—especially after what Betty does—that these two are quite stable.
Cole: Yeah, all of our fans should be worried about anything they think is stable on this show. [Laughs] It’s pretty inappropriate of fans to think they can expect any kind of narrative from show runners or writers or actors. I just don’t think that’s the way you should engage with material that you’re watching as a passive audience member. You should obviously talk about it and have fun with it and deal with how it resonates with you, but from an artist’s perspective, for anyone that feels so comfortable and so behemoth in believing anything about the way they want the show to be run, I would say reassess why you would think that. Our writers are not writing as a fan service. We’re writing a show that is from the writer’s creative perspective. If we were writing what the fans wanted to see, Betty and Jughead would be the most linear, monotonous narrative of all time. We would never fight, we would be perfect for how many ever episodes this show goes on. Truthfully, as an actor, it’s not fun to act. [Laughs]
But there are some really cute moments for Bughead in the premiere. From promos, we know Archie and Veronica have a steamy shower scene, but what about Bughead?
Cole: Some sexy romance? [Laughs] Betty and Jughead are not Archie and Veronica, I’ll say that. Don’t be fooled by our final episode last season, where you got a little sexy kitchen scene. First off, Betty and Jughead are not marketed as these sexpots the same way that Archie and Veronica’s relationship is more based off of. I think the characters themselves are much more intellectual, and their relationship is more emotionally-based than sexually-based. Obviously, the writers are going to do a great job of putting the cherry on top when it needs to be and not stringing it along too long—you will get a couple moments here and there—but don’t be looking for that pornographic perversion.
Listen, I just want to see some romance between Bughead because theirs is a love story that I don’t even think Roberto planned on becoming what it was.
Cole: No, I don’t think any of us really planned on [Bughead’s success] to be honest. The success of the couple is pretty understandable from an audience perspective. Media trains people to like these two characters; she’s the over-achieving girl next door, and he’s the more reserved thinker and guarded kid. They’re both cute and emotionally understanding and trying to have this stable relationship in a sea of bullshit; from an audience perspective, that’s really appealing.
You recently said that “you forgot how fame affects you as a human, and how it has the capacity to affect anybody in the spotlight.” What has been the toughest thing to deal with? What advice have you shared with Lili, Camila, and the rest of the cast?
Cole: To be honest, I don’t really give any of the cast members advice like that. Learning to navigate this after college and being an adult now without a guardian around has been a brand new experience for me, truthfully. But what I really say in terms of navigating the fame thing is try to dissolve how people talk about the show, how people talk about you…like, I don’t search anything up about my name, about the show’s success, anything like that, because it can be really distracting when you’re filming. If you want to do that during your off-season, you go ahead, you do whatever you want, but praise from the audience is just as dangerous as hate from the audience.
I’m a firm believer that if you’re nervous before you go into a scene, it means the scene is going to be good, and it means you’re invested in making something special. Arrogance sort of destroys that nervousness because you’re having a bunch of people flatter you and tell you you’re awesome, and it keeps you from striving as hard for the kind of validation you seek from a good show. Thankfully we’re lucky because we’re up in Vancouver and kind of isolated from a lot of that, but I think there’s an arrogance in celebrity culture in general that can make you think you deserve a certain kind of treatment. That’s something that takes time to destroy.
Finally, there was a recent photo of you, K.J. Apa, and your brother, Dylan, so what are the chances we will see Dylan guest star on Riverdale?
Cole: Zero. [Laughs] Absolutely zero. I wouldn’t want it, Dylan would never do it, and I think it would break fourth wall too much. A lot of my fans from the Suite Life still come up and say, “This would be fun!” I think it would just be silly. It would be super, super weird and totally not appropriate. I also just don’t think Dylan wants to; to be honest, I wouldn’t want to either. People want to see us on screen together again, and that’s fine. That’s flattering, I guess. But if it’s going to destroy the kind of world that we’ve built [on Riverdale], it’s wildly inappropriate.
I was thinking, you know, Betty has a brother we didn’t know about to come on the show, so why don’t we bring on one for Jughead…
Cole: [Laughs] Yeah, exactly. Listen, I’ve already got a mom and a sister that we’ve never seen, which I’m sure eventually will make an entrance, so I already got enough family to deal with here!