This Thursday, viewers will be invited to enter The CW's Riverdale, the network's newest show based on a comic book series. But this one won't about superheroes or connected to The CW's popular Arrowverse (yet); this one hails from a very different kind of comic. Archie was a colorful, light-hearted series that began way back in the 1940s, about a group of teenagers and their love triangles and various hijinks. Fans might be a bit surprised, then, to see that The CW's version of the comic is dark, brooding, and mysterious — sort of a Twin Peaks for younger audiences. But don't worry, the top-notch cast of Riverdale is here to guide us through this disorienting experience.
Regular viewers of The CW may be used to seeing a lot of familiar faces pop up on their favorite shows, thanks to the intertwined worlds of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals or Arrow and The Flash and the rest of the network's DC comics lineup. But The CW has taken a different approach with Riverdale, eschewing actors that its audience will recognize in favor of fresh talent that most viewers will be seeing for the first time. Of course, these newcomers still fit the network's typical "type." But it's still nice to see Riverdale attracting some fresh blood to the network.
Here are the cast members who will be guiding you through your first trip to Riverdale:
1. K.J. Apa as Archie Andrews
The CW went well out of their way to find a promising newcomer to fill their central role, one whose unfamiliarity to American audiences will give him an appealing blank slate to work with. 19-year-old Apa hails from New Zealand, and TV audiences Stateside won't have seen him before unless they tuned into that country's popular soap opera Shortland Street. Remarkably, his first two American projects are premiering within a day of each other; after you watch Riverdale on Thursday, you can then immediately catch him in the movie A Dog's Purpose when it opens on Friday.
2. Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones
If you find yourself struggling to place Sprouse's face, that's probably because you're not used to seeing it without an identical one right next to it. Sprouse and his twin Dylan are former child actors, having starred on the Disney Channel — in The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody, its spinoff The Suite Life On Deck, and as their characters on other shows like That's So Raven, Wizards Of Waverly Place, and Hannah Montana — for six years throughout the '00s. (The twins also traded off the role of Julian in the Adam Sandler movie Big Daddy back in 1999.)
This is Sprouse's first main role on a television series since Suite Life On Deck went off the air six years ago — and it's clear that the actor, now in his 20s, is trying to make a name and identity for himself apart from his lookalike brother.
3. Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper
Reinhart's previous TV credits include a guest spot on Law & Order: SVU and a role on the short-lived FOX sitcom Surviving Jack, which ran for one short season as a midseason replacement in 2014. On the big screen, you may have seen her in the coming-of-age movie The Kings Of Summer alongside well-known TV comedians like Nick Offerman (Parks And Recreation), Megan Mullally (Will & Grace), and Alison Brie (Community); or in the recent high school dramedy Miss Stevens, starring American Horror Story's Lily Rabe as the eponymous educator.
4. Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge
According to IMDb, Riverdale is Mendes' first professional credit of any kind. Her bio provided by The CW states that the lucky actress was cast in this starring role while she was still in school at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and started filming shortly after she graduated in May of last year.
5. Ashleigh Murray as Josie McCoy
This future Pussycat is just breaking into the business; prior to Riverdale, her credits consist of one episode of FOX's The Following and two of TV Land's Younger, in the nondescript roles of "Female College Student" and "Girl," respectively. Riverdale's Josie should be just the breakout role she needs to make it big.
6. Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossom
Petsch's biggest credit to date is a role in last year's fantasy horror movie The Curse Of Sleeping Beauty.
7. Casey Cott as Kevin Keller
Like Mendes, Riverdale is the very first credit on Cott's IMDb page. Also like Mendes, that's because he recently graduated from one of the country's top acting schools: Ohio's Carnegie Mellon University.
8. Luke Perry as Fred Andrews
Perry made a name for himself when he starred in 200 episodes of the classic '90s FOX drama Beverly Hills, 90210 as loner Dylan McKay. You may also have seen him in other shows like Oz, Jeremiah, and Body Of Proof, or in movies like The Fifth Element and the original, pre-Sarah Michelle Gellar Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
9. Mädchen Amick as Alice Cooper
Given all the comparisons being drawn between Riverdale and Twin Peaks, it's only natural that The CW would cast at least one cast member from that cult classic Showtime drama on their show. Amick is perhaps most famous for playing waitress Shelley Johnson on Twin Peaks (a role which she'll revisit in this year's revival), but you may also know her from the Stephen King movie Sleepwalkers or the Lifetime series Witches Of East End.
10. Marisol Nichols as Hermione Lodge
Nichols has guest starred on a number of your favorite shows, like Alias, Friends, and Charmed, but her longest-running roles include Agent Nadia Yassir on Season 6 of 24 and Corinne the Desert Wolf on the past two seasons of Teen Wolf.
11. Sarah Habel as Ms. Grundy
34-year-old Habel is probably quite a bit younger than the white-haired music teacher most readers picture from their memories of the Archie comics. One of her earliest roles was in the 2009 roller derby drama Whip It; she has since followed that up with parts on shows like Party Down, Hawaii Five-0, and the one-season MTV drama Underemployed.
Get to know the exciting new talent of Riverdale when the series premieres this Thursday at 9:00 p.m. ET.