How did you find coming into Riverdale when the cast had already been together for a season? Did you feel like the new kid on the first day of school?
Definitely! I grew up as an army brat so I moved every two to four years and changed schools so I had that same nervous feeling about whether or not I was going to be able to make friends. But when I came onto the show it was a complete shock at how family orientated everyone was, how welcoming everyone was. It was a dream come true.
How do you find living in Vancouver to shoot the show?
It definitely helps being so close with my castmates and Vancouver is a beautiful city but about half the season it’s raining. Living in Vancouver and adjusting to the lifestyle has been quite seamless with the people I have on the show there to support me and vice versa. It’s made that aspect a lot easier.
You are super close with your castmates. What makes your friendships so tight-knit?
We’re all about the same age, which I think has a bit to do with it. We all come from humble beginnings and we’re experiencing a lot of different things. As far as notoriety and just how massive the show is with fans, and the fame, we have each other as we go through it. We’re living this aspect of our careers that can either make you or break you and like the saying goes, if you stand alone you fall alone. But when you have people supporting you, working with you and looking out for your best interests outside of work, it’s such a blessing.
The real romance of the cast actually seems to be between you and KJ Apa! What’s some of the crazy stuff you and KJ get up to?
We definitely play pranks on each other and that happened a lot in season two. But with season three we haven’t had as many scenes together as we would’ve liked, so we probably spend the majority of our time together going to lunch and just eating food – even though we aren’t hungry – watching Netflix in each other’s trailers, having push-up competitions. It’s fun.
When you signed on for the show, were you prepared for the intensity of Riverdale stans?
Oh no, I wasn’t! It was a surprise but I’m a firm believer that life doesn’t give you things you can’t handle. Coming onto this show in the second season where my castmates had already experienced this huge pandemonium, they helped me manoeuvre the fandom because people come up and ask you for photos while you’re in the middle of eating food, or I’ll be drinking coffee with my sisters or just walking down the street, so it’s pretty cool and it’s exciting. It’s been as easy as I choose it to be.
Have you had any crazy fan encounters?
I’ve had a girl hyperventilate and cry in front of me and she was just freaking out and shaking. I was just like, ‘It’s OK! It’s OK! Relax, I’m just like you without the tears and the shaking!’ I’ve had fans come up and ask me if I could write something on a piece of paper so they can get that tattooed on themselves. There was an instance where I wrote on a piece of paper and I misspelt her name and she was like, ‘No that’s perfect! It’s you, it’s your handwriting,’ and I was like ‘Oh God.’ I also get people screaming my name or screaming, ‘Reggie!’ But a really nice moment for me recently was when I was walking down the street and someone called me by my first and last name. That was pretty cool because I know we’re actors on this hit show, but I would much prefer if someone called me by my real name than my character’s name.
Reggie has evolved a lot as a character from last season. Why do you think that is?
They bumped me up to a series regular and usually when that happens it means an increase in the storyline, and throughout the history of the comics outside of the core four, Reggie is one of the main characters. We definitely see more layers as to who Reggie Mantle is and we’re exploring that in season three.
Do you struggle keeping spoilers for the series?
We’re all pretty good as far as keeping our mouths shut when it comes to the script and the storylines. We have to be careful about what we share and what we don’t but we film on an episode-to-episode basis so we’re learning on the go as well. It makes things exciting. There’s usually some major power points that we’re aware of at the beginning of the season but we’re also figuring it out on the go.
This role has given you a huge platform, especially with young people. Do you feel pressure to be a role model?
I think there’s a little bit more accountability that I need to hold with myself now because not only am I holding myself accountable as a role model but so are the fans. You know, everybody has a voice in this day and age with social media, so I’m definitely a little more cognisant of what I do, but I definitely won’t stray from who I am.
What are you excited for next year?
I have a movie coming out with Yara Shadidi, who’s a fantastic actress. It’s out on May 17, 2019 and it’s called The Sun Is Also A Star, which I’m very excited about. Yara and I filmed in New York over the summer and Riverdale was gracious enough to give me some time off to do it.