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Cole Sprouse Is Bummed That RIVERDALE’s Jughead Isn’t Asexual

Cole Sprouse Is Bummed That RIVERDALE’s Jughead Isn’t Asexual

Riverdale hasn’t even premiered yet and it’s already clear that this isn’t going to be your grandmother’s version of Archie.

The CW’s new drama brings Archie comic book characters to live-action in a truly odd combination of Twin Peaks murder mystery and Gossip Girl relationship drama that somehow comes together to make an addictive, seductive new series. The comics’ usually sunny town of Riverdale is now a dark, seedy, dangerous place filled with secrets that all start to come to light when the high school’s golden boy Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines) is murdered. Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) is now a hot football star struggling with his newfound passion for music and hiding an illicit teacher/student affair with a now young and hot Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel). Meanwhile Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) is now a pill-popping good girl who is so obsessed with perfection that it brings her to self-harm, and Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) is actually a likable rich girl coping with her family’s fall from grace and finding her place in her new town.

But as for Archie’s burger-loving, crown-wearing sidekick Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), expect him to vary the most from his comic book counterpart. For one thing, he’s actually smart. Like, incredibly intellectual to the point where he’s an outsider because he and everyone around him know that he’s the smartest guy in the room. He’s not even friends with Archie, as the two had a horrible falling out pre-premiere for as-yet-unknown reasons. But don’t worry: he still wears his signature grey crown, albeit in the form of a knit beanie.

The CW

The biggest deviation that Riverdale seems to be taking from the comic book canon is Jughead’s sexuality. Last year, an Archie comic revealed that Jughead was asexual, meaning that he isn’t sexually attracted to other people. In this day and age of increased LGBTQIA inclusivity and representation in pop culture, asexuality is still relatively unrepresented in TV and movies, so it was a huge moment. But Riverdale isn’t going that route, at least in season one.

“I personally would love to see that exploration,” Sprouse told Nerdist on set in Vancouver. “But I’m just the actor. At the end of the day, to say that’s my job or my duty is probably a misunderstanding of the writers’ role and the directors’ role and the producers’ role. If I was in full creative charge of this character, things obviously would be different, things obviously would go a certain way. But it seems to me that they’re not going to explore that angle and, to me, that’s unfortunate, to be quite honest.”

In writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Erica Henderson’s reboot of the comic book, they decided to make a statement about Jughead’s sexuality and updated the canon to officially name his asexuality. “I think there’s a lot of room for growth in that and I think that kind of representation is quite interesting and I think it’s needed, frankly,” Sprouse said. “But this is also one of those things where it’s only really been canon in a single iteration of the Archie universe and that’s the Zdarksy universe. It was said very shortly in passing and it really wasn’t addressed with kind of the fullness that I think it should’ve been addressed with, and unfortunately for the other representations of Jughead, it has garnered much of the attention on his character. Jughead has not really been asexual until that single iteration of Zdarsky’s comic about a year ago. So it’s not in the digest, it’s not in any of the previous ones and now it’s become kind of the lynchpin of his character. I also don’t know if that’s right, specifically, but I don’t have that kind of control as an actor, to be quite honest.”

The CW

While it has been revealed that Jughead “will have romances with women” in season one of Riverdale, Sprouse is still hopeful that the show might follow the comic books and lead Jughead down a new, unique path.

“I know that Jughead’s story right now has not fully been explored, especially in terms of sexuality and his placement in the world,” Sprouse said. “Because he as a character is so, so lost just amongst himself and amongst his relations with everyone around him, I think there’s a lot of growth available there and there’s a lot of narrative that can be explored.”

Despite wanting to be faithful to this aspect of Jughead, Sprouse took pride in creating a new iteration of the iconic figure. “He is definitely different from the digests,” Sprouse said. “He very much resembles the Jughead in the Mark Waid/Fiona Staples more recent reboot of the Archie comic series, in which he’s this kind of outsider. He gets a very objective perspective on the entirety of the workings of Riverdale. In the show he carries very much the same sardonic, sarcastic sense [of humor]; he’s a very cynical character. But he’s definitely a little more down on his luck in this show, which I think explains why he’s quite cynical.”

While Jughead is hardly in the premiere episode, his presence looms large as Sprouse also plays narrator for the show.

The CW

“You hear Jughead’s voice, so he’s the narrator of the entire show, which is quite fun–he’s the perspective character,” Sprouse said. “But you don’t really know what angle he’s coming from in the pilot, and slowly but surely over the season you start to see just how involved he is in it and he definitely has his own angle that he’s trying to pursue. It’s not like he’s coming from some altruistic approach. He definitely has his own reason for being there.”

Archie and Jughead’s fractured friendship might seem blasphemous to any diehard Archie fan. It turns out that storyline was actually a later addition to the show.

“[In] the original treatment that I had read of the show, that didn’t happen,” Sprouse said. “Apparently they were quite good at the beginning. But I think the creatives thought it would be more interesting to have a repairing of their relationship over time. It is stated in the show that Archie and Jughead were once very close best friends, just like they were in the digest and in the comics and so that still holds quite true for the origin stories, as we would call them. But we thought it would be more interesting if there was a little tension and we could talk about it and we could have a story to build off of that.”

At least one thing is for sure: Sprouse confirmed that we will meet Jughead’s dog Hot Dog. Thank goodness, we almost panicked there for a moment!

What do you think about Sprouse as Jughead? Tweet me your thoughts and opinions at @SydneyBucksbaum, and watch Riverdale on Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW!

Images: The CW

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