The cast of Riverdale is already iconic. Each of the show's principle actors have left a lasting impression on the characters they play, even though those characters have been around for decades. Casting is a tricky business, though. You have to get really lucky to find the right people for every role you want to cast. Thankfully, the folks on Riverdale had all the luck they needed and they even get along.
Things could have gone a lot differently on the show, though. There are a number of actors who almost weren't cast. Additionally, some of the show's actors originally auditioned for totally different parts than the ones they're playing on the show now. Everything slotted in where it should, but it's fascinating to think about what could have been. Here are 18 juicy casting secrets from Riverdale.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina takes place in the same universe as Riverdale, so it shouldn't be a total surprise that the creator of both shows originally wanted Kiernan Shipka to play Betty Cooper. The actress had already played one iconic role amidst adults on Mad Men, and her talents were self-evident.
Although things didn't ultimately line up for Kiernan on Riverdale, she clearly felt inspired to join the universe. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina makes for a great companion series, one that plays up the supernatural elements of this world more, even as it remains obsessed with the same teen drama that fuels Riverdale.
Another Sabrina star who was almost a Riverdale star, Chance Perdomo auditioned for the role of Jughead. He didn't get that part, but Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa clearly liked what he saw, and decided to cast Chance on another one of his shows.
The creator definitely knew what he was doing in casting Cole Sprouse as Jughead. That character has become the most iconic part of the entire show. That's not to suggest that Chance couldn't have done a great job with the character, only that it's probably for the best that the role ended up with Cole Sprouse. It fits him like a glove.
Speaking of Cole Sprouse proving that he was made for Jughead Jones, that just makes this Riverdale casting secret even more fascinating. Over the course of Riverdale's three seasons, the former Disney Channel actor made the character into one of the show's constant highlights. Originally, though, Cole wasn't supposed to play Jughead at all. Instead, he was asked to read for Archie Andrews.
Eventually, though, Cole fell for Jughead instead, in part because of the conflict at the heart of his character. He's distanced himself from most of the town, in part because he's afraid of his own vulnerability. Cole's gravitation toward Jughead seems a little bit like fate intervening, given how good he is in the role.
If there's one thing that every Archie fan knows, it's that he's a redhead. Because that's the case, the casting directors naturally gravitated toward naturally red-haired actors at the beginning of the casting process. According to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, they saw "every redheaded young guy LA" before landing on KJ Apa. Fortunately for KJ, who's not a natural redhead, none of the redheads they found were a good fit.
It's telling that the casting process for Archie was so intense, though. It suggests they were willing to put in extra work to find someone who fit exactly what they were looking for. In KJ, they found someone with sex appeal who can carry the show's dramatic heft. It worked out well.
The final two actors in contention to play Archie Andrews were Charlie Depew and KJ Apa. We all know how that turned out, but it almost meant the end of Charlie's acting career. Although he was eventually cast on the show, Charlie was initially rejected from the Freeform series Famous in Love, and then he lost out on Archie as well.
It was at that point that Charlie realized that acting might not be his calling after all. Instead, he got cast on Famous in Love, and continues to work today. It seems like everything worked out for both of them.
Katherine Langford's career hasn't exactly suffered since she wasn't cast on Riverdale, but it's interesting to imagine a world in which the 13 Reasons Why actress was cast as Betty. Camila Mendes was actually the one who revealed that Katherine had auditioned for the role.
Although she didn't get it, Katherine and Camila have remained friends in the years since. After all, they're stars on two of the biggest teen shows going at the moment. Rejection is part of show business, and Katherine found her niche eventually. She just wasn't meant for the world of Riverdale. The show wouldn't be the same without Lili.
He's currently dating Madelaine Petsch, but that isn't Travis Mills's only connection to Riverdale. The actor and musician also auditioned to play Jughead on the show. Although he didn't get the part, that's how he met Madelaine. Apparently, he messaged her on Facebook to congratulate her, and the rest is history.
It's a shame that the two of them can't hang out on set, but it might be for the best. Sometimes, working together means the death of a relationship. Of course, Cole and Lili seem to make it work, but not every relationship can be that totally and utterly perfect.
Speaking of our favorite natural redhead on Riverdale, Madelaine Petsch was actually originally brought into the CW to audition for a totally different show. When she read for Legends of Tomorrow, she was then sent to read for the part of Betty. Although she wasn't looking to be on Riverdale at all, Madelaine was fairly close to landing one of the show's biggest roles.
Ultimately, Madelaine was cast not as Betty but as Cheryl, and it seems to be a perfect fit. The actress has a little too much edge to play the wholesome, doe-eyed version of Betty that the character is often presenting to the public. She's a better fit for the wilder, scarier Cheryl.
Casey Cott has been great as Kevin through every season of Riverdale, but those aren't the parts that the actor initially wanted. He auditioned for both Archie and Jughead, but wasn't selected for either role. Casey made this confession on Twitter, but also said that he's glad he wound up with Kevin after all.
Although it's definitely a smaller part, Kevin has had more than a few chances to shine. The main action of the show is definitely centered on the four main characters, but Riverdale is generous, and affords most of its cast the chance to have some fun in at least a few episodes.
Believe it or not, Archie wasn't always going to be played by KJ Apa. Not only did KJ have intense competition during the search process, he was actually rejected from the show initially. The nationwide search for the actors to play each of these characters was a grueling process, and it sounds like there was some back and forth before the casting team knew who they were going to go with.
KJ Apa wasn't exactly a huge name prior to Riverdale, so it makes sense that the show wanted to be careful before casting a virtual unknown as its lead.
In addition to almost not being cast, KJ Apa's actual casting on the show came at the very last minute. KJ had auditioned for the role previously, but that audition hadn't taken off, in part because the actor had just gotten off a 12-hour plane ride and hadn't been properly prepared beforehand.
When they decided to call him back in, he was better prepared, and it's a good thing he was. They were set to start testing Archie in front of the studio only three days after KJ's audition. After a whirlwind few days, KJ landed the part, thanks partially to the enthusiasm the studio had for his performance.
Just like KJ, Camila Mendes was also initially turned down. For her part, Camila was told that she was still an option, but that the show wanted to do another nationwide casting call to find additional competition for her. Eventually, things worked out in Camila's process, but that doesn't mean the process was any less arduous.
This was Camila's first ever acting job. Not many actors are lucky enough to land a part this major on their first try. That's not to say it was all luck, though. She worked incredibly hard to get where she is, and she's not going to let any of it go to waste.
Lili Reinhart has been very open about how hard she had to work to win the role of Betty, and how hard she's worked since to keep it. As a result of the casting process, Lili says that they've all become rather close friends. That makes sense, given how similar their struggles were to land Riverdale and their sky-rocketing to fame in the years since they earned their parts.
Riverdale has also been a foundational experience for each of these actors. They're all still quite young, and they're not used to going from job to job all over the world. Riverdale is like a home base for all of them, and it hopefully serves as the beginning of long careers.
Asha Bromfield was eventually cast as Melody, but she initially went in to read for Josie. Although Josie might be a slightly larger role, the writers of Riverdale clearly understood that Asha was a talent they shouldn't waste, and so Melody got quite a bit to do on the show in her own right. She joins Val in forming a new version of the Pussycats, sans Josie.
She's one of the many young unknowns that the show was able to elevate. She's clearly a talented singer, and Asha has made the most of her limited screen time. Here's hoping she ends up with a wildly successful career post-Riverdale.
Although Asha read for Josie, she was fairly sure she wouldn't get the part from the start. Josie was an iconic character, and Asha's thinking was fairly logical backed up on history — that they would never cast a black girl in such an iconic part. Although Asha didn't ultimately win the role of Josie, the part did go to Ashleigh Murray, another black woman.
Riverdale isn't the most diverse show on the planet, but it has taken strides to be more diverse than its comic book counterpart, and Josie and her Pussycats are a big part of that effort. Thankfully, the show was willing to be a little more inclusive than Asha initially suspected.
If Ashleigh Murray hadn't landed the part of Josie, the show would have been very different. Interestingly, that's also true of Ashleigh Murray, who was about to give up acting before being cast on the show. She was behind on her rent by $4,700, and she was ready to give up acting entirely.
Given the massive amount of debt that she was in, it makes sense that Ashleigh was uninterested in continuing to pursue a career that hadn't earned her any money thus far. Riverdale was supposed to be her last audition, but we know how that turned out. Now, she's set to star in a spin-off of the show.
Mark Consuelos has always delivered a fierce performance as Hiram Lodge, one of the show's most delectable ongoing villains. Although Hiram doesn't show up until in the second season, Robert Aguirre-Sacasa knew that he wanted to cast the actor from the moment he conceived of the role.
Apparently, Mark only solidified his part in the role after he had a phone call with Roberto in which he asked perceptive questions about the character. Clearly, the part and the actor were a natural fit for one another. Mark joined the cast, and he's been doing great work on the show ever since.
One of the best things about TV is that memorable performances can lead to long-term work. In the case of Jordan Connor, the studio was so enthusiastic about his performance that they decided to extend it past the initial plan. Initially, Jordan's character was supposed to be on the show for a four-episode arc.
Once the show's creators saw his performance, though, they decided to keep Sweet Pea around for the long haul. He's made an excellent addition to the cast, in part because he gives the Serpents a voice outside of Jughead. That's been essential to making the group feel more grounded.