How old the cast of Riverdale really is

When news first broke that The CW would be reimagining the comic book Archie mythos as a modern TV series, it seemed like a dangerous gamble. Was the network playing with fire by adapting such iconic characters? And, more pointedly, who could they find to fill such proverbially huge shoes? Despite those initial doubts, The CW did precisely what it set out to do with its dark and sharply executed Riverdale

Not only did they manage to draw in die-hard fans, but they also gained a devout new following — and the incredible casting plays no small part in the show's popularity. From industry aces like Skeet Ulrich to newcomers like Camila Mendes, each and every person bringing these beloved characters to life feels like the perfect fit. As for whether the actors and actresses in this teen show are anywhere near their character's ages? Keep reading to learn just how creative the casting directors got.

K.J. Apa

As Archie Andrews, actor K.J. Apa plays the quintessential boy next door: Former football team captain, a budding musician, best friend to Betty and Jughead (or, as shippers lovingly refer to them, Bughead), and boyfriend to Veronica — for the time being, at least. Outside of a murderous black-hooded villain and local gang causing drama, Apa's Archie is your typical teen.

While Apa is no longer a teenager in real life, he's not far removed from teendom at 20 years old. He doesn't intend to play a fresh-faced protagonist forever, though, and he's got his eye on a prize outside of his role as Riverdale's redheaded hero.

"I definitely want to make movies after doing A Dog's Purpose," Apa told Vulture of his first big-screen gig in 2017. "I was thinking to myself, even while I was doing that, imagine if I could do this forever. Making movies is definitely something that I want to become more experienced at doing. I want to get away from the high-school jock."

Lili Reinhart

She's blonde, she's beautiful — she's Betty Cooper! Lili Reinhart brings this sweet, studious high school character to the small screen. And although there's no denying Reinhart can pass for a girl of 17, she has a few years on the youthful student she plays. At 21, Reinhart has reached the point where homeroom and cheerleading practice are things of the past. However, she's quick to point out that — as perfect as Betty looks onscreen — Reinhart struggles IRL with some of the same image issues as her Riverdale fans. 

She still suffers from cystic acne, and it's important to her that her young fans know the truth. "In person, and I hope this might help readers feel a little bit better about themselves, my skin doesn't look as great or as perfect as it does on the show," she told Byrdie. So how does teenage dream Betty Cooper get such a flawless complexion? Revealed Reinhart, "It's lighting, it's smoke and mirrors, and the show's head makeup artist, Erin McKenzie, is really amazing — she's the reason my skin looks like that." 

Camila Mendes

Let the truth be spoken plainly — Riverdale's Veronica Lodge is much more likeable than the comic series' version. The TV version lacks the ingratiating pretension, and we have actress Camila Mendes to thank for that. She imbues her Riverdale vixen with just the right amount of sass and compassion.

Mendes, who is 23, snagged the role of this soon-to-graduate character fresh off a graduation of her own. "I came out of college and kind of stepped right into this," Mendes explained to The Sunday Telegraph (via Just Jared Jr.). "Sometimes I'm like, how did that happen? How did I get so lucky? How was it so easy?"

Although she's a college grad, Mendes admits it's not hard for her to step into Veronica's high school shoes. The actress understands the Lodge family's instability, having moved around frequently during her formative years. "Veronica moves to Riverdale and everyone already knows each other, and she has to find her place. She is totally out of her comfort zone and I definitely know what it feels like," Mendes told Coveteur, laughing. 

Cole Sprouse

You'd never guess it just by looking at him, but Cole Sprouse is considerably older than his Riverdale character, Jughead. How much? Well, fans of the show know Jughead turned 16 during the show's first season — that disastrous birthday party Betty threw him lives on in infamy. Meanwhile, Sprouse is 25. In case you missed the math, that means he's nearly a decade older than his beanie-wearing onscreen persona.

But when you consider how much time Sprouse spent onscreen prior to Riverdale, his age seems more believable. Along with his twin brother Dylan, the actor basically grew up before audience's eyes with long-running roles like Ben Geller on Friends and Cody Martin on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and The Suite Life on Deck.

After logging years in the public eye, the brothers decided to take a break and hit the books at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Sprouse studied archaeology, explaining to Teen Vogue, "Dylan and I made the conscious decision to distance ourselves from the industry quite a bit." Happily for his fans, Sprouse returned to TV after graduation to play Jughead. 

Casey Cott

As Riverdale's Kevin Keller, actor Casey Cott plays the snarky bestie everyone wishes they had in high school (yet another reason to envy Betty). He plays the part so well, in fact, you may have trouble wrapping your head around the fact that Cott is 25

Cott comically brought attention to turning another year older in August 2017 by tweeting he'd "never been tagged in so many photos" with singer-slash-actor Shawn Mendes, who was born on the same day. Mendes isn't the only person Cott shares his birthday with, either. 

The Riverdale star is so close in age to his sister, Carly Cott, that their parents instituted double-duty birthday parties growing up. "Love sharing a cake with you since day one," Cott tweeted to Carly in August 2017. The tight siblings shared other milestones to the world, too — with Carly posting a cute throwback photo to Twitter of the pair just before their Junior/Senior Prom.

Luke Perry

Any self-respecting '90s kid undoubtedly recognized Archie Andrews' dad, Fred, the minute Riverdale premiered. It's Luke Perry, y'all, and who doesn't love the man who made Dylan McKay from Beverly Hills, 90210 possible? Granted, since that OG series aired from 1990 to 2000, it's no secret that Perry is no longer the teen rebel with whom fans first fell in love. 

He's 51 now, and with time has come the kind of life experience that makes Perry such a perfect fit to play Riverdale's resident good dad. "I like playing the dad because I like being a dad," Perry told The Hollywood Reporter. However, the actor stresses that parenting is much different now than it was back in his 90210 days. "[Fred's] absolutely supportive and encouraging. But [90210's] Jim Walsh didn't have to deal with social media. Jim Walsh didn't have to deal with cellphones, selfies, posting, following, all that stuff," Perry said, calling it a "big challenge" parents (including Fred) face today.

Marisol Nichols

Riverdale's Hermione Lodge is a force to be reckoned with — and you can certainly say the same about Marisol Nichols, the actress who brings Hermione to life onscreen. With a career spanning more than two decades and 50 acting credits, Nichols knows what she's doing. It's easy to imagine that's why Hermione's connection with her daughter, Veronica, feels so real. 

However, the 44-year-old actress admits that bond isn't all staged. She told Vulture that she looks out for "Cami," as she calls her on-screen daughter IRL, whom she is "obviously closest with" on the show. "Sometimes I'll be like, 'Hey, listen, you are flying out of town every single weekend, you're shooting 60-hour weeks… see if you can work an assistant into the budget,' because she's overwhelmed." Though, she added, "I try not to offer [advice] unless I'm asked." 

Coincidentally, Riverdale reunited Nichols with a co-star from her early career years: Luke Perry! The pair, whose characters had a short-lived affair on the CW show, briefly met on Beverly Hills, 90210 in 1996. Of the encounter, Nichols recounted to Flare that Perry "was like, 'Hi, nice to meet you' and that was it." It's understandable since she was a guest star, says Nichols, and that doesn't change the fact that Perry is "a really great guy." 

Madelaine Petsch

If ever there was a proverbial high school Queen Bee — the epitome of the mean girl cliché — it's Riverdale's Cheryl Blossom. She wields her power as captain of the cheerleading squad to create a culture of fear and submission in the halls of Riverdale High. However, actress Madelaine Petsch isn't like the character she plays (and not just because she's 23 — years older than the teen character she plays).

On the contrary, she wasn't the bully growing up, but rather the one being bullied. "I grew up in a small town, I was the only redhead other than my brother. We had South African accents, I was a vegan, I was raised without religion. I was just the weirdest kid in this small town, so I got made fun of a lot for it," she shared with Cosmopolitan

Sadly but not surprisingly, Petsch's mental health suffered. "I went through a time of depression in my life when I was a teenager — I think a lot of teenagers do," she told Marie Claire, adding that it has given her "places to draw from" in portraying Cheryl's issues.  

Madchen Amick

Good parenting isn't necessarily the norm on Riverdale, but it does exist. Case in point? Luke Perry's Fred Andrews. But as Betty Cooper's mom, actress Madchen Amick falls under the umbrella of less-than-stellar parenting examples. Alice Cooper is dark, twisty, and more than a little devious — which, admittedly, makes Amick love the character even more. "The range that I get to play with Alice is huge," the 47-year-old actress told Collider. "I don't know if I've ever played that range in a character before."

Her character's depth isn't the only reason Amick relishes the role, though. She shares a sweet bond with Lili Reinhart, who plays her onscreen daughter. Amick gushed to the outlet, "She is a special person, and I'm so lucky to be playing her mom and have my scenes with her." The two hit it off during their first table read together when they noticed they have the same tattoo by the same artist in the same place. "I was just like, 'Wow, that is so weird!'" revealed Amick. 

Ashleigh Murray

Are you sitting down? Perhaps you should be, because the following revelation may come as quite the shock. Here goes — at 30, Ashley Murray is more than a decade older than the character she plays on Riverdale. Feel free to take a moment to pick your jaw up off the floor.

As rocker Josie McCoy, lead singer of Josie and the Pussycats, Murray charms Riverdale viewers with a steady supply of powerhouse vocals and an empowering attitude. And although Murray wasn't a rock star like Josie, she did spend a lot of time on stage when she was a teen. "I would absolutely go back to high school. I was just this little theater geek," she told MTV, adding, "Everybody knew who I was, and that's all I ever wanted as a theater kid." Murray admits it's refreshing to relive high school through Josie's eyes, because "she has this unrelenting confidence that I don't think I necessarily had at 16." 

Skeet Ulrich

With a dad like FP, it's no wonder poor Jughead has so much inner turmoil. On the flipside, how lucky is Cole Sprouse that he gets to hang out on set with a screen gem like Skeet Ulrich? The Riverdale dad, who is now 48 years old, kickstarted his impressive career playing, well, a lot of bad guys — arguably none so notable as unhinged boyfriend Billy Loomis in the original Scream

The 1996 film has reached cult classic status, with Ulrich's role in it still iconic. You know what, though? He earned it. Like the young cast of Riverdale, he played a teen when he wasn't one, and went the extra mile to nail the right mindset. 

"I was 26, I think, when I made it, and I was playing a 17- or 18-year-old, so I went straight to the mall and bought every hard-rock poster and black lights and everything," Ulrich told AV/TV Club. To tap into Billy's psychopathic tendencies, the actor embraced the darkness by reading about John Wayne Gacy and playing "the most satanic music I could find." Now, that's commitment.