Well, things certainly have changed in "Riverdale." Though she spent the first few episodes of Season 1 coming to terms with her feelings for Archie (KJ Apa), Betty (Lili Reinhart) has seemingly moved on -- with none other than Jughead (Cole Sprouse). The relationship between Betty and Jughead is an interesting one -- and not just because what kickstarted it was the murder of Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines).
Jughead is a mystery of a character, and one fans of the "Archie" comics have been waiting to get some answers about. As this enigma is slowly unfolding, his connection to Betty almost seems like a natural progression. Still, there will be those who question if Jughead's heart is truly in it. After all, in the comics Jughead is asexual, and that's an aspect of the character Sprouse has voiced interest in exploring before.
The actor sat down with Screener to take a nosedive into the mind of Jughead, and exactly what this relationship means for him -- and Archie, for that matter. Sprouse also speaks to the developments in Jughead's family life, whether he'll share any screen time with Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) -- and where that crown he wears comes from.
Screener: You've been very open about your interest in pursuing Jughead as asexual -- which he is in the comics. Now with he and Betty becoming an item, is the door closed on that, or is it something you think the show could still tackle?
Cole Sprouse: I don't know, you know? I'm the actor -- so when it comes to actual writing, and the narrative, and what will inevitably take place, I don't have too much to say. I've talked to [showrunner] Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] a little bit about it, and he and I have been interested in exploring the narrative for some time. But it's important to remember that there's a large group of people that want Jughead to be asexual. That was the same side I was on in the beginning, when I was fighting for it. Because that's [Chip] Zdarsky's new universe and all that. He's been aromatic for a long time in the comics -- but as I was doing my research, with Betty and Jughead, there was a ton of content -- and actually a large community that wanted Betty and Jughead together as well.
It's hard for me to say. I'm of a mind that I think a representation should exist, but it should feel organic and it should still feel genuine. I think the way that we're going right now -- that's Jughead and Betty [after this episode], people are going to clearly see that pursued more heavily -- it makes sense for this new narrative. We're in a new universe, there's still a large group of people that want Betty and Jughead together.
There is a real infatuation in the old digests between Betty and Jughead, it's just he has no room for it right now. I don't know if [asexuality will] end up being pursued. Like I said, I'm an actor not a writer. I don't know the sensitivities of the larger corporations at work. But I'm on the same side, I have been since the beginning. In the event that something does change, I'm right there on the front of it.
But I still want to make sure it's done right and it encompasses the entire argument, and doesn't mention it briefly or in passing or something that doesn't feel appropriate. I don't know how much of the asexuality thing will come into question -- but I certainly think that Jughead being a woman-hater will eventually come into question. That wouldn't surprise me in the slightest, and that's very much like his original digests.
I really couldn't tell you. As of now I don't know even what the idea of the second season is, so I don't really have too much money to put into the bag.
As this relationship goes on, what will we learn about Jughead? Because as you look at the show, these two come from very ... let's say dramatic home lives, meanwhile everything seems to end up going Archie's way.
And that's important! Roberto wants that to be the case. Archie has always been a cipher and will always continue to be a cipher, but please continue!
That's what works about it so well -- but then you have Betty and Jughead, who don't necessary have the luck in life that Archie does. So given their connection, what will we learn about Jughead? Especially as the show starts delving more into his family?
Rather than thinking about Jughead as he has this huge comic lineage that we have to stay loyal to, let's think about Jughead as he's just a character in the town of Riverdale. He's a damaged kid, his father's not really in the picture, we don't know where his mother is, he's kind of searching for a connection with someone -- and he ends up teaming up with this hyper-nurturing, really emotionally sensitive, really caring individual who he finds some sort of mental connection with. And it works.
I feel like when I speak of Jughead, it's very hard to remove all of the meta-gaming I'm doing. It feels like I'm a Dungeon Master, and not like I'm an actual player in the world, and I don't think that's the right way to look at the relationship between Betty and Jughead. I think it's much more appropriate to look at them as real psychological entities within a town that's kind of going to sh*t, and who both have these dramatic lives. And Jughead is a character that's looking for some kind of real, emotional, mental, intellectual attachment to something -- and finds a person who's kind of yearning to do the same.
Betty's a character that just came off this infatuation with a childhood love that didn't work out. At the beginning of the season that's where we leave her, and she's still complicated with all of these ideas. She doesn't really know what to be a kind of lover means.
They end up meeting each other with similar passions and similar drive and it works. I think that's the way we should look at it as players in the world and not DMs.
First of all, where can we get an 'Archie Comics' or 'Riverdale' RPG game, where you can be the DM?
[There's this game] "Arkham Horror," it's a Lovecraftian boardgame -- but I would love to see that, kind of. All of the characters have to go through, and make mental will tests to make sure they don't go insane, and you get to pick between some of the Archie characters. That would be so much fun. I'm going to pitch that!
I would be very into playing a giant 'Riverdale' board game.
Like super gritty, old gods rising. All that stuff!
We know you won't be getting to the bottom of what went down with Archie and Jughead this season -- but what kind of impact will Jugs getting together with Betty have on their bond? It certainly can't help the situation.
It doesn't. We acknowledge that there's a tension that exists within the first season. Jughead, Betty and Archie were kind of like the Three Musketeers during their childhood, when Veronica (Camila Mendes) wasn't in the picture yet. So Jughead being with Betty is just as complicated as if Archie were with Betty. I think the rest of the season is us dealing with those narratives, and figuring out why that might be complicated, and that classic ooey-gooey romance.
The way that Roberto has spoken about this first season is that it's the origin season. The first season is essentially the origin story for the rest of the seasons: Why are these characters this way? What happens after their lives have gone through the entire arc, which was sort of ushered in by Jason Blossom's murder? I think that begs further questioning. In the event that we take off with a Season 2, how did the first story inform the origins of the rest of these characters?
Well, looking at that origin, we don't have Jughead's mom, or Jellybean, in the picture right now. But we are getting more FP Jones (Skeet Ulrich). How deep are you going to be delving into that relationship -- between father and son?
Huge! Massive. It becomes probably the single biggest storyline in the latter half of the season. Character-wise, Jughead narratively is like an old car that takes a while to start up. It just burns rubber but you don't stop. You can't stop the car, or it'll just shake to pieces. That's kind of how we treat him in Season 1.
You'll get to see a lot more of Skeet -- who's just the man -- and their relationship is one of the primary narratives in the latter half. It's great. It ends up becoming quite interesting. And Jughead has sort of this tortured youth, angsty side.
All he needs in life is his hat!
I found out recently from a man named Krishnan Menon -- he's like one of the biggest Archie collectors in the world -- I said a while ago that I always thought Jughead was sort of like an imaginary friend in the digest. He doesn't really have any real world connections. He's quite a strange character.
It turns out this guy's one of the foremost Archie collectors -- he has, like, "Pep" issue 21. Besides Roberto, he's probably one of the most well-read on the "Archie" comics. He was saying Jughead was originally supposed to be Archie's conscience. That's what he was as a character. So he wears this crown as a symbol of being in the head, or in the thoughts. He doesn't like women, which is the antithesis of Archie who's absolutely crazed about them. So he sits in opposition there. And he's obsessed with food, because I guess you're supposed to feed your thoughts and fuel your mind.
It was funny when he was explaining this to me, because I already had this idea of Jughead as an imaginary friend. As Jughead was developed as a character, he sort of became a real world physical character. It's very strange.
And that's kind of the origin of the crown too. It's the corona. It's the mind. Some sort of noble thing.
Lastly, we've seen Jug's interactions with a bunch of people but there's some he still hasn't really come into contact with yet.
Yeah, like Veronica?
Like Veronica! And there hasn't been much with Cheryl. I'm dying to see those two interact. Are we going to get these things?
Oh yeah -- Cheryl and Jughead, definitely. That's kind of inherently the way it's going to be. Jughead starts out as a character that's on the fringes and you don't see too much of him, and then slowly but surely he's reintegrated into the school society at large. I think someone you will never see Jughead interact with this season is Josie -- but you get snippets of Cheryl and Jughead, you get a tiny chunk of scenes between Veronica and Jughead in which Jughead acknowledges that "I never see this girl." A bit of Ethel and Jughead.
I'm excited for more Ethel.
Yeah, me too! I'd love to see that classic storyline take place where she's continuously trying to feed him food and he's just running away!
But yeah, he integrates himself into society a little more actively in the later half of the season, so you'll get to see more.
"Riverdale" airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.