12 Surprising Facts About Riverdale

The CW
The CW

Based on the classic Archie Comics, the CW’s Riverdale takes a darker, Twin Peaks-like twist on characters Archie Andrews, Veronica Lodge, Betty Cooper, and Jughead Jones. For one, this show has a whole lot of murder.

Trying to figure out who the unknown “Black Hood” murderer is has been an addicting draw for fans since the series first aired in 2016. And while the real lives of Riverdale's stars and the production of the show isn’t nearly as dramatic as the series, that doesn't make them any less fascinating. Just ahead of the series' return, we've gathered up some things you might not know about Riverdale.

Warning: Spoilers for all aired episodes ahead.

1. RIVERDALE WAS ORIGINALLY PITCHED AS A TIME-TRAVELING MOVIE.

Before Riverdale came to its current iteration, there were a few other out-there ideas for what it could be. One pitch from someone at Warner Bros. saw Archie as a time-traveler, in a movie where the redhead protagonist would be played by Louis CK. (Yep, this happened.)

"We spent about a month trying to figure out how to do a high-concept Archie movie and that’s kind of the exact opposite of what we wanted to do,” showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa explained during the CW’s 2017 Winter Television Critics Association panel. Eventually, they went against what was pitched and decided Riverdale would be a TV show … minus any time travel.

2. JUGHEAD ONLY HAS ONE BEANIE.

Cole Sprouse and Lili Reinhart in 'Riverdale'
The CW

Jughead Jones’ beanie in Riverdale is extremely important to the character, similar to his iconic crown in the comics. Given this, it’s surprising to learn Cole Sprouse only has one beanie that he wears every single day during filming. Apart from the obvious fact that it probably smells, it’s a little peculiar to only have one copy of a staple piece of costume.

While appearing on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, Sprouse allowed Fallon to try on the beanie, but warned him not to smell it. "Same one, still smells like Mane and Tail," Sprouse explained. "We did get another one at the end of last season, but it was stolen when I placed it on a lunch table in the scene where Cheryl slapped Jughead."

3. THE POP’S DINER SET LOOKS SO REAL, PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WAS.

Not only is Pop’s Diner the place to go for the characters on Riverdale, people in real life have actually been enamored by it and tried to eat there, as they thought the set was real. While doing a Reddit AMA, Sprouse revealed that because their onset location is near an “industrial thoroughfare,” it isn’t uncommon for “hungry 18-wheelers” to pull into the filming lot thinking they could get a quick bite to eat at Pop’s.

However, the Pop’s used in the Riverdale pilot actually is a real restaurant, called Rocko’s Diner in Mission, British Columbia.

4. KJ APA BROKE HIS HAND DURING THE SEASON ONE FINALE.

Cole Sprouse and K.J. Apa in 'Riverdale'
The CW

In the season one finale of Riverdale, Archie Andrews heroically saves Cheryl Blossom from drowning in a frozen lake, and in real life, KJ Apa might’ve gone a bit too far with the Method acting. In the scene, Archie smashes through thick ice with his bare hand, and although Apa wasn’t actually punching real ice, he did do some real damage.

"That was a gnarly day of shooting, I'll tell you that much," Apa told TV Line. "I wasn't really punching the ice, but I got a little bit too excited. I was punching a foam mat … [that was] sitting on the ice … It was cold, so I didn't really feel it. It wasn't until 20 minutes after that I realized I broke my hand. I didn't tell anyone."

5. COLE SPROUSE AND CAMILA MENDES WENT TO COLLEGE TOGETHER.

Though they weren’t as close in circles as Jughead and Veronica, Riverdale co-stars Cole Sprouse and Camila Mendes attended New York University together. Though Mendes told Office Magazine that the two were not friends while at school, she did say that the actor was a familiar face on campus.

"There was a time when we had class in the same building so I would always see him outside, Mendes shared, before calling Sprouse a “weirdo” then. They’ve clearly come a long way since their NYU days.

6. EVERY RIVERDALE EPISODE IS BASED ON A MOVIE.

Cole Sprouse, Ashleigh Murray, Lili Reinhart, Asha Bromfield, K.J. Apa, and Hayley Law in 'Riverdale'
The CW

While it might be obvious to some die-hard fans, many viewers may not realize the significance of every episode title of Riverdale. All the episodes are the names of, or a variation of the names of, old movies. And it’s not just for aesthetic purposes, as they literally tell fans what the episode will be about.

Aguirre-Sacasa explained to Teen Vogue how much the episode titles reveal: "We usually work on the episode, and then, as we're going to the end of the breaking of the story, we're like, 'What's the title of this episode?'" he shared. "And then we have a list of provocative titles. Often the stories guide us."

If you’re keen on spoilers, just check out the upcoming episode titles for Riverdale, and you’ll probably figure quite a few things out.

7. SHOWRUNNERS WANTED SPROUSE TO PLAY ARCHIE.

Unlike most of the Riverdale stars, when Sprouse was initially approached about a role in the series, he wasn't interested. "At first ... I was immediately turned off," he told WWD. "But in more recent years, Archie comics have tried to stray away from the 'golly, shucks Arch, let’s go to the sock hop' thing."

When he agreed to audition, Sprouse was first asked to read for the role of Archie. However, the actor fell in love with Jughead and almost immediately knew he wanted that part. “He’s very much an outsider," Sprouse told WWD. "He has a pretty unique perspective because he’s seeing the town and the friendship and the friendships that are forming from a more objective point of view."

8. MADELAINE PETSCH’S FEAR OF WATER MADE FILMING DIFFICULT.

K.J. Apa and Madelaine Petsch in 'Riverdale'
The CW

In season one of Riverdale, Cheryl Blossom has many scenes by a large body of water. While viewers probably didn’t think twice about it, the actress behind the redheaded River Vixen had a seriously tough time shooting the parts.

"I'm afraid of open bodies of water. I was in a glass-bottomed boat that broke a long time ago, so I've always been kind of freaked out," Madelaine Petsch told Glamour. The actress originally thought she could have a stunt double for her opening boat scene, and had a panic attack prior to having to do it herself. However, she confirmed that the fear was only temporary. "Once we started shooting, I was fine," Petsch said.

9. COLE SPROUSE FOUGHT FOR JUGHEAD TO BE ASEXUAL.

Fans of the Archie Comics might find it weird that in Riverdale, Jughead has a love interest. Fans of just the show, and not the comics, probably have no idea why that would be strange. In the more recent comic book versions, Jughead is actually asexual, something that was revealed once Riverdale had already started production. "The day I was cast was actually the same day he was announced as canonically asexual," Sprouse told Glamour. "It wasn't in the Digest—it was in [Chip] Zdarsky's universe, so it was in one of the newer comics that was written."

“I think, in this show, he’s not a romantic and not asexual,” Sprouse continued. “I argued in the beginning, creatively, that he should be both, but in this show, he’s kind of a tortured youth that ends up finding a comfort and a resonance with another person who’s going through a lot of trauma.”

Though Jughead has been in an on-again, off-again relationship with Betty, Sprouse is still open to the representation of asexuality. “If it ends up finding a place in Riverdale and in future seasons, then hopefully we'll do it with tact and in a way that respects what it is and how it resonates,” Sprouse said.

10. VANESSA MORGAN GOT DEATH THREATS WHEN SHE JOINED THE SHOW.

Vanessa Morgan in 'Riverdale'
The CW

Before Jughead and Toni Topaz kissed or began their mini-fling, viewers were already enraged about the possibility of the character breaking up Jughead and Betty (a.k.a. Bughead). In the end, Vanessa Morgan—the actress who plays Toni—was put on the receiving end of much of this fan anger.

Morgan revealed to Glamour that fans were sending her some pretty awful messages upon her introduction. "She's a Southside Serpent, a gang member, and Jughead's first friend," Morgan teased at the time. "So I might stir up the pot a bit with the Bughead relationship. There might be a little love triangle."

"I’ve already had some death threats," Morgan added. "But the thing is, it's half death threats because they don't want that [actually] happening, and there's half that's just all love.” Luckily, the actress didn’t take the fandom to heart.

11. SPROUSE IS IN TALKS TO WRITE RIVERDALE COMIC SPIN-OFFS.

Not only is Sprouse a fan of Riverdale and the Archie Comics the show is based on, but he actually wants to try writing comics based on the world, and seemingly will do so sometime in the future.

When asked if he’s ever reached out to the comic book writers about collaborating, Sprouse told Vulture: “Not so much with the comics creators. Now there’s a Riverdale universe that’s gonna take off in print form now, too. Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] has talked to me about writing a couple of those, which would be awesome. I’d love to try my hand at that.”

12. 13 REASONS WHY STAR KATHERINE LANGFORD AUDITIONED FOR BETTY COOPER.

Katherine Langford in '13 Reasons Why'
Beth Dubber, Netflix

The leading lady in another favorite teen series had her shot at playing Betty Cooper, according to Camila Mendes. While speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Mendes revealed she auditioned with Katherine Langford, before Langford was cast in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. “I remember we went out and we got falafel with a guy who was auditioning for Archie,” Mendes said of the day.

The role of Betty eventually went to Lili Reinhart, which clearly worked out for the best. Although Langford is done with the Netflix series, she gained major attention from her role as Hannah Baker, and Reinhart fits the Riverdale role perfectly.

25 Wonderful Facts About It’s a Wonderful Life

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Mary Owen wasn’t welcomed into the world until more than a decade after Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life made its premiere in 1946. But she grew up cherishing the film and getting the inside scoop on its making from its star, Donna Reed—who just so happens to be her mom. Though Reed passed away in 1986, Owen has stood as one of the film’s most dedicated historians, regularly introducing screenings of the ultimate holiday classic, including during its annual run at New York City’s IFC Center. She shared some of her mom’s memories with us to help reveal 25 things you might not have known about It’s a Wonderful Life.

1. IT ALL BEGAN WITH A CHRISTMAS CARD.

After years of unsuccessfully trying to shop his short story, The Greatest Gift, to publishers, Philip Van Doren Stern decided to give the gift of words to his closest friends for the holidays when he printed up 200 copies of the story and sent them out as a 21-page Christmas card. David Hempstead, a producer at RKO Pictures, ended up getting a hold of it, and purchased the movie rights for $10,000.

2. CARY GRANT WAS SET TO STAR IN THE ADAPTATION.

When RKO purchased the rights, they did so with the plan of having Cary Grant in the lead. But, as happens so often in Hollywood, the project went through some ups and downs in the development process. In 1945, after a number of rewrites, RKO sold the movie rights to Frank Capra, who quickly recruited Jimmy Stewart to play George Bailey.

3. DOROTHY PARKER WORKED ON THE SCRIPT.


Getty Images

By the time It’s a Wonderful Life made it into theaters, the story was much different from Stern’s original tale. That’s because more than a half-dozen people contributed to the screenplay, including some of the most acclaimed writers of the time—Dorothy Parker, Dalton Trumbo, Marc Connelly, and Clifford Odets among them.

4. SCREENWRITERS FRANCES GOODRICH AND ALBERT HACKETT WALKED OUT.

Though they’re credited as the film’s screenwriters with Capra, the husband and wife writing duo were not pleased with the treatment they received from Capra. “Frank Capra could be condescending,” Hackett said in an interview, “and you just didn't address Frances as ‘my dear woman.’ When we were pretty far along in the script but not done, our agent called and said, ‘Capra wants to know how soon you'll be finished.’ Frances said, ‘We're finished right now.’ We put our pens down and never went back to it.”

5. CAPRA DIDN’T DO THE BEST JOB OF SELLING THE FILM TO JIMMY STEWART.

After laying out the plot line of the film for Jimmy Stewart in a meeting, Capra realized that, “This really doesn’t sound so good, does it?” Stewart recalled in an interview. Stewart’s reply? “Frank: If you want me to be in a picture about a guy that wants to kill himself and an angel comes down named Clarence who can’t swim and I save him, when do we start?”

6. IT WAS DONNA REED’S FIRST STARRING ROLE.


Getty Images

Though Donna Reed was hardly a newcomer when It’s a Wonderful Life rolled around, having appeared in nearly 20 projects previously, the film did mark her first starring role. It’s difficult to imagine anyone else in the role today, but Reed had some serious competition from Jean Arthur. “[Frank Capra] had seen mom in They Were Expendable and liked her,” Mary Owen told Mental Floss. “When Capra met my mother at MGM, he knew she'd be just right for Mary Bailey.”

7. MARY OWEN IS NOT NAMED AFTER MARY BAILEY.

Before you ask whether Owen was named after her mom’s much beloved It’s a Wonderful Life character, “The answer is no,” says Owen. “I was named after my great grandmother, Mary Mullenger.”

8. BEULAH BONDI WAS A PRO AT PLAYING STEWART’S MOM.

Beulah Bondi, who plays Mrs. Bailey, didn’t need a lot of rehearsal to play Jimmy Stewart’s mom. She had done it three times previously—in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Of Human Hearts, and Vivacious Lady—and once later on The Jimmy Stewart Show: The Identity Crisis.

9. CAPRA, REED, AND STEWART HAVE ALL CALLED IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE THEIR FAVORITE MOVIE.


Liberty Films

Though their collective filmographies consist of a couple hundred movies, Capra, Reed, and Stewart have all cited It’s a Wonderful Life as their favorite movie. In his autobiography, The Name Above the Title, Capra took that praise even one step further, writing: “I thought it was the greatest film I ever made. Better yet, I thought it was the greatest film anybody ever made.”

10. THE MOVIE BOMBED AT THE BOX OFFICE.

Though it has become a quintessential American classic, It’s a Wonderful Life was not an immediate hit with audiences. In fact, it put Capra $525,000 in the hole, which left him scrambling to finance his production company’s next picture, State of the Union.

11. A COPYRIGHT LAPSE AIDED THE FILM’S POPULARITY.

Though it didn’t make much of a dent at the box office, It’s a Wonderful Life found a whole new life on television—particularly when its copyright lapsed in 1974, making it available royalty-free to anyone who wanted to show it for the next 20 years. (Which would explain why it was on television all the time during the holiday season.) The free-for-all ended in 1994.

12. THE ROCK THAT BROKE THE WINDOW OF THE GRANVILLE HOUSE WAS ALL REAL.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Though Capra had a stuntman at the ready in order to shoot out the window of the Granville House in a scene that required Donna Reed to throw a rock through it, it was all a waste of money. “Mom threw the rock herself that broke the window in the Granville House,” Owen says. “On the first try.”

13. IT TOOK TWO MONTHS TO BUILD BEDFORD FALLS.

Shot on a budget of $3.7 million (which was a lot by mid-1940s standards), Bedford Falls—which covered a full four acres of RKO’s Encino Ranch—was one of the most elaborate movie sets ever built up to that time, with 75 stores and buildings, 20 fully-grown oak trees, factories, residential areas, and a 300-yard-long Main Street.

14. SENECA FALLS, NEW YORK IS “THE REAL BEDFORD FALLS.”

Though Bedford Falls is a fictitious place, the town of Seneca Falls, New York swears that it's the real-life inspiration for George Bailey’s charming hometown. And each year they program a full lineup of holiday-themed events to put locals (and yuletide visitors) into the holiday spirit.

15. THE GYM FLOOR-TURNED-SWIMMING POOL WAS REAL.

Though the bulk of the film was filmed on pre-built sets, the dance at the gym was filmed on location at Beverly Hills High School. And the retractable floor was no set piece. Better known as the Swim Gym, the school is currently in the process of restoring the landmark filming location.

16. ALFALFA IS THE TEENAGER BEHIND THAT SWIMMING POOL PRANK.

Though he’s uncredited in the part, if Freddie Othello—the little prankster who pushes the button that opens the pool that swallows George and Mary up—looks familiar, that’s because he is played by Carl Switzer, a.k.a. Alfalfa of The Little Rascals.

17. DONNA REED WON $50 FROM LIONEL BARRYMORE ... FOR MILKING A COW.

Though she was a Hollywood icon, Donna Reed—born Donnabelle Mullenger—was a farm girl at heart who came to Los Angeles by way of Denison, Iowa. Lionel Barrymore (a.k.a. Mr. Potter) didn’t believe it. “So he bet $50 that she couldn't milk a cow,” recalls Owen. “She said it was the easiest $50 she ever made.”

18. THE FILM WAS SHOT DURING A HEAT WAVE.

It may be an iconic Christmas movie, but It’s a Wonderful Life was actually shot in the summer of 1946—in the midst of a heat wave, no less. At one point, Capra had to shut filming down for a day because of the sky-high temperatures—which also explains why Stewart is clearly sweating in key moments of the film.

19. CAPRA ENGINEERED A NEW KIND OF MOVIE SNOW.

Capra—who trained as an engineer—and special effects supervisor Russell Shearman engineered a new type of artificial snow for the film. At the time, painted cornflakes were the most common form of fake snow, but they posed a bit of an audio problem for Capra. So he and Shearman opted to mix foamite (the stuff you find in fire extinguishers) with sugar and water to create a less noisy option.

20. THE MOVIE WASN’T REQUIRED VIEWING IN REED’S HOUSEHOLD.

Though It’s a Wonderful Life is a staple of many family holiday movie marathons, that wasn’t the case in Reed’s home. In fact, Owen herself didn’t see the film until three decades after its release. “I saw it in the late 1970s at the Nuart Theatre in L.A. and loved it,” she says.

21. ZUZU DIDN’T SEE THE FILM UNTIL 1980.

Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu in the film, didn’t see the film until 1980. “I never took the time to see the movie,” she told Detroit’s WWJ in 2013. “I never just sat down and watched the film.”

22. THE FBI SAW THE FILM. THEY DIDN’T LIKE IT.

In 1947, the FBI issued a memo noting the film as a potential “Communist infiltration of the motion picture industry,” citing its “rather obvious attempts to discredit bankers by casting Lionel Barrymore as a ‘Scrooge-type’ so that he would be the most hated man in the picture. This, according to these sources, is a common trick used by Communists.”

23. THE MOVIE’S BERT AND ERNIE HAVE NO RELATION TO SESAME STREET.

Yes, the cop and cab driver in It’s a Wonderful Life are named Bert and Ernie, respectively. But Jim Henson’s longtime writing partner, Jerry Juhl, insists that it’s by coincidence only that they share their names with Sesame Street’s stripe-shirted buds.

“I was the head writer for the Muppets for 36 years and one of the original writers on Sesame Street,” Juhl told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2000. “The rumor about It's a Wonderful Life has persisted over the years. I was not present at the naming, but I was always positive [the rumor] was incorrect. Despite his many talents, Jim had no memory for details like this. He knew the movie, of course, but would not have remembered the cop and the cab driver.

"I was not able to confirm this with Jim before he died, but shortly thereafter I spoke to Jon Stone, Sesame Street's first producer and head writer and a man largely responsible for the show's format," Juhl continued. "He assured me that Ernie and Bert were named one day when he and Jim were studying the prototype puppets. They decided that one of them looked like an Ernie, and the other one looked like a Bert. The movie character names are purely coincidental.”

24. SOME PEOPLE ARE ANXIOUS FOR A SEQUEL.

Well, two people: Producers Allen J. Schwalb and Bob Farnsworth, who announced in 2013 that they would be continuing the story with a sequel, It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story, which they planned for a 2015 release. It didn’t take long for Paramount, which owns the copyright, to step in and assure furious fans of the original film that “No project relating to It’s a Wonderful Life can proceed without a license from Paramount. To date, these individuals have not obtained any of the necessary rights, and we would take all appropriate steps to protect those rights.”

25. THE FILM’S ENDURING LEGACY WAS SURPRISING TO CAPRA.

“It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen," Capra said of the film’s classic status. "The film has a life of its own now and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it. I’m like a parent whose kid grows up to be president. I’m proud… but it’s the kid who did the work. I didn’t even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it. I just liked the idea.”

Jason Momoa is Glad Game of Thrones's Khal Drogo Only Lasted One Season

Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO

Although Jason Momoa had a pretty minor role in the grand scheme of Westerosi things in Game of Thrones, fans of his character Khal Drogo will attest to him being an extremely important part of the series—particularly in how he helped to shape the character of Daenerys Targaryen. But the actor, who is currently starring in Aquaman, is happy his time on the series ended when it did.

Drogo met his untimely demise in Season 1, and Momoa has no regrets about it. “I’m actually really, really happy with how it all turned out because, you know, you just can’t keep that character alive,” Momoa told the New York Daily News. “Even when I watch it, it just wouldn’t fit. Khaleesi [Daenerys] … I feel like she inherits that strength and she has to be by herself and do it that way."

Momoa also commented on how popular a character Drogo still is, adding, “Even now, people just can’t stop ... they love Khal Drogo. It’s unbelievable. Like, one season. I don’t know any other character that’s done one season out of eight or nine that people just go [wild]. I didn’t know it was going to be that big.”

Even though Momoa hasn’t been on the show for years, he’s still a huge fan of the series. “It’s the greatest show on Earth,” he stated, sharing that he and his wife Lisa Bonet are devoted fans.

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