Riverdale’s Fiery Redhead Madeline Petsch

IN FULL BLOSSOM. Meet the cool and high-spirited thespian behind the fiery “mean girl” of “Riverdale”—the one and only Madelaine Petsch

Outfit by 3.1 Phillip Lim

The “mean girl” is a staple of just about every teen drama since the dawn of TV. The right “mean girl,” however, can help push a good show into the realm of greatness. Case in point: Cheryl  Blossom in “Riverdale”, who is written brilliantly and played fabulously by American actress Madelaine Petsch. While this is definitely not her first Hollywood gig, her part in the hit TV series has opened new doors and led her down an exciting career path.

DA MAN: Hi, Madelaine; great to have you with us. How are you doing?
Madelaine Petsch: Hey, thanks for having me! I’m doing well, keeping busy and loving it.

Swimsuit by Issa De’ Mar

DA MAN: “Riverdale” has just ended its first run. What did you enjoy the most about being on the show?
Madelaine Petsch: Wow, so crazy. I mean, the whole experience has been life-changing. I couldn’t tell you just one thing. I learned so much about myself and my craft during this first season that I’m really thankful to have learned and will be able to utilize in season two!

DA MAN: “Riverdale” turned out to be a huge success: The critics seem to like it and the ratings have been consistently high. In your opinion, what is it that makes “Riverdale” a great TV series?
Madelaine Petsch: That’s a big question! In my opinion, it’s that everyone on the show, from the writers to the crew to the actors, are all extremely passionate about “Riverdale.” We focus on doing quality work. It’s a collaborative effort on the “Riverdale” set, and we are all really proud to be making the show.

Swimsuit by Tommy Hilfiger, overalls by Wild Blue Denim, shoes by Nike

DA MAN: By the way, what was it like when you auditioned for “Riverdale”?
Madelaine Petsch: It was nerve-racking and exciting and pleasant. I had already auditioned for the casting director for a different project, and he brought me back to read for this pilot he was casting—which was “Riverdale.” I read for the producers for the role of Betty just because they didn’t have sides for Cheryl yet. They then pinned me for the role for about four months until they had material for Cheryl. Once we got to Cheryl’s audition, after every step of the process, the casting director and our showrunner would call me and give me notes and tell me I’m their Cheryl Blossom. They were sure of it. It was a very unique situation, and I had immense support.

“I love playing the mean girl, but variety is also the spice of life”

DA MAN: Your character is one of the antagonists, right? The show’s villain, if you like. What was it like getting into the shoes of somebody like that for thirteen episodes?
Madelaine Petsch: Yes, Cheryl is the villain of “Riverdale.” For me, it was all about developing the place all of the anger stems from in order to create this “villain.” She’s so broken inside and angry. I had to delve into that side of her and then begin building walls towards everyone in order to have that mean defense mechanism. She’s so afraid of being hurt and lonely that she actually does it to herself.

Jacket, scarf and bracelet by Coach 1941, skirt by Tommy Hilfiger, bralette by The Order

DA MAN: You’ve often mentioned in interviews how Cheryl is a very multidimensional character. Does it make playing her more challenging?
Madelaine Petsch: It doesn’t make playing her more challenging at all. In fact, it makes her feel more human to me. All of us are feeling multiple emotions at once with different layers to them; it’s only normal for a teen girl to have a multitude of those. It only makes it more fun to be her because I get to be and feel multiple things at a time.

DA MAN: You’ll also be playing a somewhat similar character in the upcoming “F*&% the Prom.” Is it fun playing the mean girl? Have you ever been worried about being typecast for this kind of role?
Madelaine Petsch: I love playing the mean girl, but variety is also the spice of life. I don’t really focus on being typecast. I feel very lucky to be working in my industry, and I’m just going to continue focusing on doing work I’m proud of and let the rest fall into place.

Swimsuit and shoes by Tommy Hilfiger

DA MAN: And for something completely different, we’ll also be seeing you in the horror movie “Polaroid.” We’ve heard the movie described as a cross between “The Ring” and the “Final Destination” movies. How would you describe “Polaroid”?
Madelaine Petsch: I think that’s a great description of Polaroid. I had a blast filming this one; it was very different for me! Can’t wait for everyone to see it.

DA MAN: Moving even further ahead, do you have any other projects coming up? Or maybe you have any hints or bits of info about “Riverdale” season two that you can share with us?
Madelaine Petsch: Right now I’m focusing on season two of “Riverdale”! All I can say is it’s going to be wild.

Sweatshirt by Tommy Hilfiger, denim shorts by Wild Blue Denim, bralette by The Order, shoes by Nike

DA MAN: Would you consider “Riverdale” to be your breakout role? If so, have you encountered any new opportunities stemming directly from being cast in the show?
Madelaine Petsch: “Riverdale” is absolutely my breakout role. Honestly, everything that’s happening in my life now is thanks to the show. From shooting with you guys to all of the other amazing things that keep my days busy now!

DA MAN: On a related note, your appearance in “Riverdale” has also increased public attention on you. How do you deal with this part of being a celebrity?
Madelaine Petsch: It’s a very new thing for me, but the fans are all amazing!!

“When fans come and say ‘hi!’ to me when I’m out, I probably get just as excited as they do”

DA MAN: What, would you say, has been the most important lesson, revelation or surprise you’ve encountered about living a life under the limelight?
Madelaine Petsch: This is just the beginning for me. It’s really helped me appreciate those in my inner circle more than ever. I really strive to be a good role model for the younger generation and that has helped me work on myself.

DA MAN: So far, what has been your most surprising, heartwarming or otherwise awesome fan encounter?
Madelaine Petsch: Every fan encounter has been surprising and awesome. I’m still so excited that we have so many amazing fans of the show that when fans come and say “hi!” to me when I’m out, I probably get just as excited as they do.

Jacket and skirt by Tommy Hilfiger, bralette by The Order, bracelet by Coach 1941

DA MAN: What do you feel is the one thing that people most often get wrong about you?
Madelaine Petsch: A lot of people assume I’m a bitch because I play one on the show. Or fans are scared to say hi because Cheryl is pretty ruthless. I swear I’m not mean!

DA MAN: Outside of acting, what else are you passionate about?
Madelaine Petsch: Dancing! I’ve been dancing for 17 years. I love it with my whole heart.

DA MAN: If back in the day acting didn’t work out for you, which professions do you think would you have liked to try out?
Madelaine Petsch: I didn’t have a back-up plan growing up; this was it for me. So, I would’ve kept working in coffee shops and restaurants and auditioning my whole life.

Bralette by Fox Swimwear

DA MAN: Since acting did work out for you, what do you want to do going forward? Are there any particular genres you want to explore? Or maybe certain directors or writers you’d like to work with?
Madelaine Petsch: I’d love to get into producing and one day directing, but that’s in the far future. Right now, I would love to do different roles and keep challenging myself as an artist.

DA MAN: You’ve been professionally acting for about two years now. Where do you see yourself in, say, five years from now?
Madelaine Petsch: Man, I don’t know. I’m taking it a day at a time! I’m going to continue exploring every avenue of this career path and see where it takes me. I try not to live life with too many expectations.

Sweatshirt by Tommy Hilfiger, denim shorts by Wild Blue Denim, bralette by The Order, shoes by Nike

DA MAN: When you’re thinking about life and how it would go on from here, have you ever wished there was something that you could change about yourself?
Madelaine Petsch: No. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. Even some of the crazy things that seem not to have a reason at the time have taught me some very, very valuable life lessons that I realized down the road.

DA MAN: On a somewhat related note, what is your greatest fear?
Madelaine Petsch: I guess … failure in my own eyes, or unhappiness? That’s a big question!

DA MAN: And conversely, what brings you the most joy in life?
Madelaine Petsch: Performing, bringing new characters to life.

Jacket by Tommy Hilfiger, bralette by The Order, bracelet by Coach 1941

Photography Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling Alexa R. Green

Makeup Elie Maalouf using MAC Cosmetics
Hair styling Sascha Breuer using Bumble & bumble. at Starworks Artists
Model Madeline Petsch