Madelaine Petsch’s audition for the role of Cheryl Blossom on The CW’s adaptation of the Archie Comics universe, “Riverdale,” left its producers “terrified” — and she got the part.
Petsch, who has proven to be one of the show’s breakout stars after three seasons, recently asked its casting director what convinced them to cast her in the surefire hit series and, during an exclusive sit-down interview with AOL’s Gibson Johns at the launch of her M3 Privé Revaux eyewear collection, she revealed the story behind the wild audition that got her cast on the show.
“I went straight to the producers when I auditioned for Cheryl, because I had actually auditioned earlier that week for a different show they had. They were like, ‘We already like her, so let’s see if she can do this,'” Petsch recalled. “So, I went in and, right when I did the first scene, they all stood up and said, ‘She’s got the role!’ So I had these champions along the way to the studio and the network, but I asked them recently what it was about me [that got me the part] and he said, ‘We didn’t know what we were going to get from you. We never knew. You were a little scary, but a little cool, and you made a weird fashion choice and we loved it. We were terrified of you in the best way.'”
“It was cool to hear, because I didn’t know that was how it was reading, because I was just doing what felt like her, but obviously it resonated,” she went on. “I just love being her and giving that delivery, and we’ve all collaborated on creating Cheryl.”
As for the notable ensemble that she wore while nabbing the role that changed the course of her career, Petsch is “bummed” because she “got rid of it.”
“It was a blue very tight long-sleeved turtleneck crop-top, and then this weird suspenders skirt that went down into a flow-y skirt to the knee in black-and-white pinstripes,” she laughed. “Unexpected as hell, with lace booties. Who is she? We don’t know. I would probably never choose to wear that now, which is probably a good thing.”
Looking back to that time, before “Riverdale” became an international sensation with fervent fans to rival that of any other teen show that has launched into the zeitgeist in the past, Petsch told AOL that she could never have imagined the impact that it would’ve had on both her own career and the lives of its fans.
“It’s almost like, ‘Wow, she had no idea.’ Do you know what I mean?” Petsch said of her younger self. “I remember watching the pilot air on January 27, we were all together, and I remember not having any idea what any of it meant and just feeling the passion for the project and the character, but I had no idea what was coming. I felt like we had been living under a rock for a year filming a show that no one would ever see. Then, all of a sudden, people love the show and it’s been an amazing ride so far.”
As for something that has particularly resonated with “Riverdale” fans, Petsch pointed to somewhat unexpected — but totally swoon-worthy — relationship between her character, Cheryl, and Toni Topaz, who were given the couple name, Choni. The actress said that she’s heard from viewers who were inspired by the same-sex relationship to come out in their real lives, which is something that she is still wrapping her mind around.
“Something that’s really memorable and special that I hear from fans is when I hear that Choni’s storyline and Cheryl coming out has made them comfortable in coming out,” she said. “Being able to share that experience with a fan, knowing that my art has inspired them to make their lives better in some way, is incredible. The fact that the art that I make affects people’s real lives is just amazing. The people that we’ve created mean something to other people, and that’s what I love.”