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SDCC 2016: ‘Riverdale’ Star Cole Sprouse Talks His Return to Acting & His Love for Archie Comics

Nora Dominick ’17/ Emertainment Monthly Co-Executive Stage Editor

Set to premiere mid-season on The CW, Riverdale is a fresh take on the Archie Comics. The new TV show follows Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and their friends as they explore the surrealism of small town life – the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome facade. Riverdale will stand out in a crowd of superhero shows on The CW as it brings a film noir take on the teen drama.

At SDCC 2016, Riverdale star Cole Sprouse talks about his return to acting, his love for all things Archie Comics and what drew him to the character of Jughead.

After taking a break from acting, Cole Sprouse is back with a character that will definitely separate him from his childhood acting roles. Sprouse takes on the iconic role of Jughead on Riverdale. Sprouse describes his character as a “strange outsider type character.” He says, “Jughead’s always been anti-authority, he’s always been on the fringes of society. He’s definitely a non-conformist type. He’s also a budding writer and amateur sleuth.”

So, how does Sprouse’s Jughead fit into the world of Riverdale? Sprouse explains, “He’s trying to figure out what’s going on in Riverdale, especially with the recent murder. He’s really the boots on the ground, trying to figure out what’s going on.”

That’s right you read that correctly: murder. Riverdale opens with a disastrous murder occurring just before the start of the school year. The pilot explores the mystery surrounding the murder and how each character is involved. Sprouse says Jughead will be trying to figure out exactly what happened.

Since wrapping up the hit Disney Channel series’ The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and The Suite Life on Deck, Cole Sprouse took a break from acting to focus on school. Riverdale will be his first acting role since finishing the hit series. Sprouse says, “I took a break from acting and I didn’t really anticipate coming back at all, but I really liked the project.”

Kj Apa and Cole Sprouse in Riverdale. Photo Credit: The CW
Kj Apa and Cole Sprouse in Riverdale. Photo Credit: The CW

The role of Jughead stood out to Sprouse because it presented an acting challenge for him. He says, “When I was given the sides to read there was basically three pages of just solid monologue and I thought, ‘This would be challenging.’ I really like Jughead as a character. I think he’s really cool, especially in this.” He continues saying, “I think Jughead is a cool, weird, creepy character and that’s also fun!”

Riverdale as a whole also intrigued Sprouse and led him to take on the role. Sprouse says, “The show is very film noir, which is something I’m not familiar with, as an actor, at all. I haven’t done it professionally. So, I wanted to try that out.”

Sprouse is also a big fan of all the Archie Comics. “I also come from a comic book background. I used to get really angry and incendiary when people would mess with the properties I loved a lot.” Sprouse says. He continues saying, “One of the cool things about the Archie universe is there’s so many universes. There’s Afterlife with Archie, the Predator comes, the Punisher comes to Archie. There’s so many universes that it removes a lot of that incendiary dialogue that takes place with most comic properties.”

He hopes fans will enjoy Riverdale’s fresh take on the Archie Comics. Sprouse says, “I think the fans are primed for a cool, new take on a modern, film noir, teen drama like Archie. It’s going to be solid. I’m coming at it like a fan to be quite honest. I’m excited to get to work.”

Although Riverdale is different than the Archie Comics fans might have grown up with, Sprouse assures us the key elements of Archie are still there, specifically the Archie, Betty and Veronica love triangle. He discusses, “I think the love triangle is definitely one of the fundamental points.”

On the subject of the infamous love triangle, Sprouse lets us know if he’s Team Betty or Team Veronica. “I’m Team Betty. Definitely Team Betty. Girl next door.” He continues saying, “She to me has always been the one that sort of redefines the classic trope of femininity within western society. She’s like the mechanic and the tomboy. I personally really like that side.”

What team does Sprouse think Jughead is on?  “Honestly, I don’t think Jughead thinks of that. I don’t think that’s a thought past cheeseburgers for him.”

Riverdale. Photo Credit: The CW
Riverdale. Photo Credit: The CW

Sprouse says that Riverdale will remind fans why they fell in love with Archie in the first place. He thinks Archie is like “a cast of actors that through the comics and through this show are constantly being thrown, they’re like a feeder troupe. They’re just constantly being thrown into a bunch of different environments.”

Riverdale will also introduce fans to fan-favorite supporting characters from the Archie Comics. Sprouse says, “We have Moose, we have Midge, we have Dilton. We have all the side characters that you know and love. We have all the locations, so that’s fundamentally the same, but the tone is different.” He continues saying, “The gravity of the drama in the town is different.”

Another important aspect Sprouse notes about Riverdale is the show is written by Archie’s chief creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Sprouse says, “It’s not like we got a schmo off the street. No, this is the biggest fan of the comics. He’s the guy. To say this would not be an Archie property would be silly because he’s the one in charge of all the Archie properties anyhow. It can’t be divorced.”

To wrap up the interview, Sprouse touched upon Jughead’s sexuality within the Archie universe. An aspect of the character Sprouse is excited to bring to life. He discusses Jughead being asexual in a version of the Archie comics. “First off, I’m a huge proponent of that kind of representation. That’s my bread and butter. I think that’s really awesome. That was a comic universe of Archie, of Jughead, by Chip Zdarsky. I know that this show is definitely pulling more off of the Mark Waid, Fiona Staples version of Archie.” He continues saying, “So, his sexuality is not well-defined in the Mark Waid one and in this it hasn’t been defined yet either.”

Sprouse hopes to explore Jughead’s sexuality as Riverdale continues. He says, “Until otherwise noted by our creative director, our EP, that Jughead is taking a stance on any form of sexuality, I wouldn’t say that he would be asexual, but I’m stoked that I can bring to life that dialogue in any way, shape or form, even in an interview.” Sprouse concludes with, “I think that’s so awesome. And I think it will definitely be mentioned, I would be surprised if it’s not.”

Check out Cole Sprouse in Riverdale, which premieres mid-season on The CW

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