If you don’t remember Cheryl Blossom from the classic Archie comics, there’s a reason: She debuted in 1982 and disappeared two years later, deemed too sexy for kids. But the provocative mean girl fits right into Riverdale (Thursdays at 9/8c), the CW’s darker, sexier spin on the Archie universe.
Newcomer Madelaine Petsch, who appeared in the movies The Hive and The Curse of Sleeping Beauty, has her biggest role yet in the series she calls 90210meets Twin Peaks “with a little bit of Gossip Girl.”
Back in Los Angeles after shooting the first season in Vancouver, the “happily single” 22-year-old teases plot developments and reveals what turns her on in men. Bookish gym rats with Yeezy’s style, take note!
“I’m not as mean and bitchy as people think I would be. I’m the complete opposite and I want people to know they can always approach me.”
You’re the villain in Riverdale. Do bad girls have more fun?
They really do. I couldn’t be happier with the character I get to play. The show is riveting, it’s ever changing and I’ve had the best seven months of my life working on it. Cheryl is so much fun. I’ve got the best wardrobe, the best one-liners and the best storyline. Not only am I the villain, I’m on the biggest emotional roller coaster. I’ve gotten to do a lot of things I never would have thought I’d get to do. Coming up, I’ve got a huge twist where Cheryl goes completely off the deep end. I can’t say much without giving it away but it was a little terrifying to do.
What do you like and relate to about her?
She’s not just a villain. She’s a three-dimensional person. The reason she’s so angry and lashes out at people is she’s got a horrible home life. The only person who ever cared about her and loved her, her brother, is gone. I love that she’s complex, has these layers. You love to hate her but you understand why she is the way she is. There’s a level of confidence and sassiness to her that I relate to. I’m quite sassy. And of course, the red hair.
Are redheads as fiery as they say? Has your hair helped you get roles?
Absolutely! When it’s necessary for the character it works in my favor, but it makes it more difficult to be the girl next door when you’re a redhead.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Washington State but my parents are South African and brought me back and forth to visit family for about ten years. I saw poverty at a very young age and that really allowed me to appreciate what I have.
Will you do a movie on your break?
There’s nothing 100 percent set yet but I’ve got a couple of things in the works. I would love to do something girl next door-y, not the villain.
But you are the villain in the upcoming F*&% the Prom, right?
Yeah, it’s the cool kids against the unpopular kids and the uncool kids create an anti-prom. I’m the mean girl. It was a fun character to play. How could I turn it down? I’ve kind of been typecast—I’m not as mean and bitchy as people think I would be. I’m the complete opposite and I want people to know they can always approach me.
“I like confident people and people who inspire me and I would want my significant other to always inspire me with what they do. That’s a big turn-on.”
What attracts you in a guy?
For the most part, I’ve only dated artists, creative types, because they’re passionate about what they do and that’s so important to me. They understand what I do, and that my life can be crazy and my job can take me all over the world. I like confident people and people who inspire me and I would want my significant other to always inspire me with what they do. That’s a big turn-on. Physically, I like tall guys. I’m a gym rat. I love going to the gym and I like someone who does too. I’m a vegan and eat really healthy so I enjoy being with somebody who takes care of himself and takes that stuff seriously.
How do you like guys to dress?
I like a mix between Kanye West’s Yeezy style, his fashion line, but also a guy who can look good in a suit. I go to events but I also like to dress down and go to coffee in leggings and a sports bra.
What turns you off?
If they don’t read. I’m such a bookworm. I love reading and love to discuss books and literature, though I also like to watch really bad, mindless reality TV.
What else do you do in your time off?
Besides going to the gym every day, I take dance class and I love drawing and reading. I’m like a grandma in that way—I love reading a good book with some tea. I’m very nerdy.
Interview by Gerri Miller for Made Man