Marisol Nichols – Riverdale
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) Are there any other projects that you are working on?
A) It’s pretty much been “Riverdale” since we started since location wise we’re in Vancouver shooting. So, it kind of limits your abilities on your days off.
Q) What kind of response have you received to the show?
A) It’s been really great! Just utter enthusiasm for the show and support. It’s been pretty unreal! 95% of the reviews I read are positive, which is kind of unheard of – especially when taking on something so iconic. It’s been pretty awesome. [laughs] I can’t lie.
Q) It’s a great take on the Archie series and I find it can be watched by both older and younger audiences.
A) It’s been really, really great. I love that as the series go on that the adult storylines get more involved and more heated as well so that it is not just one particular audience. It really does and can appeal to a broad spectrum of audiences, which is nice.
Q) The series has a dark, almost “Twin Peaks” feel to it and there seems to be this instant magnetic pull to the show. To what do you attribute that?
A) That’s a great question. I attribute to a couple things – First, the writing and developing something so much that people care about the characters. That is everything at the end of the day, good writing so you invest in somebody’s story. The second is the actors because they pull it off so well that you honestly care about them, what happens to them and what they are fighting for. What they are fighting for is universal. With the pilot, everyone can relate to having the boy you love not feel the same way as you do – no matter what your age. I think it is just clever writing and excellent execution and that boils down to any show or any film.
Q) A lot happens in each episode as well.
A) We’ve gotten scripts that were so involved that we needed to reread them again to just absorb what happened. Hold on, what just happened?! I love that. It’s text full. You’re not going to be bored ever! It’s been a really fun experience to tell these experiences and explore these characters. Hermione moves into more and more danger and trouble – whether that is good trouble like starting to fall for somebody or bad trouble because she is still married and her husband is not the kind of guy to quietly walk away. There are all these juicy stories for Hermione and I’m really excited to take them on.
Q) Will we see any relationships cultivated for Hermione outside of her daughter?
A) Absolutely! Completely! I promise you. It was one of the reasons why I took the show besides the fact I really loved the pilot. It was because Hermione had so much to do. I love a plain old love story so any time I can explore that and play that I’m very pleased. Hermione definitely evolves to more than just a mother. That, to me, is very important to show that you can be a parent and still have a life. It’s not over by a mile! Investing in making sure your children, at whatever age, are doing well in life is vitally important as well as exploring being a parent as a full human being. Life doesn’t end when you have kids. So, it was very important for me to show Hermione as more than just a one dimensional life. I hope that viewers stay tuned and see that. Obviously, our first few episodes are exploring our main, iconic characters. But as the series goes on you’ll see not only Hermione, but other parents as well and what they are struggling with, which is really nice. Also, our director, Lee [Toland Krieger] came with us and developed these characters in the pilot so well and helped us really find things that grounded each of us. When you’re doing a pilot, you don’t have thirty episodes behind your belt that you have your character already developed. You kind of already have to have it already there. So, Lee helped us get there with not only the first episode, but with the first three. Now, he’s back for the season finale, which is amazing!
Q) There is such a rich, development and depth to each character. What do you enjoy most about Hermione?
A) I think what I enjoy the most about her is her strength, which you don’t always see because she is going through a really big struggle. But the fierceness and the strength with which she will fight to survive for her family and fight for her daughter is something that I admire in anybody. It’s tenacity. Even though you might fail and it may not be easy, that continue to fight and go towards your goals and what is right – I love that. That is probably the most thing I admire about Hermione.
Q) Part of the great tale of “Riverdale” is the darkness that is there in the cinematography, making it feel like its own character – a hallmark of serial mysteries.
A) One hundred percent! That also is our director and our show creator. Lee and Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] (our show creator) – together you are one hundred percent in calling the atmosphere and environment of “Riverdale” set its own creature in itself. To me, it really set itself apart with the initial scene where you think, “Oh, we’re in a different world here!” It’s not a world that maybe viewers thought it would be when you mention an Archie series. It’s definitely its own animal. It lends itself to the drama and the mystery that is in this town, which I love!
Q) I think it does still hit on the iconic parts of the Archie series. It’s a great hat tip to the series!
A) I agree! Especially the last scene of the second episode where you see Betty (Camila Mendes) and Veronica (Lili Reinhart) sipping milkshakes. It’s beautiful! Then, the other two come in. I love it! They have done such a good job I felt of balancing the history of these characters that certain generations know and love, but bringing it into today’s world. I really thought it was an expert balance and articulation of that.
Q) Being on The CW helps push these extra boundaries as well, where you can talk about the added serious, darker aspects to the show. How does the network help to push those boundaries?
A) I have been really impressed with how The CW has supported and embraced our show. I feel like the network has branched out so much from where they started with other shows like “Jane The Virgin” and “My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” It’s really on par with the big three networks and now television has changed so much that we can explore different avenues with TV that you couldn’t a few years ago when there were only your major networks. So, now I feel we’re competing with Netflix, Amazon, A&E and FX – all these different cable shows and outlets that have been really expand these shows where a major network couldn’t. And I feel The CW has been stepping up with that in that genre.
Q) It is that darkness that makes you instantly invested.
A) That’s the only way I think people will tune in to a show. You can have all the flashy things you want, but if you don’t care about the character in front of you then you have lost everything. To me, at the end of the day, it’s about telling great stories.
Q) We’re just getting to see the mother-daughter dynamic of Hermione and Veronica. What can you share about how their relationship might progress?
A) I can tell you that originally in episode two (and I just saw that it was cut out) there was an entire scene with Hermione and Veronica where Hermione explains to her that the only place that will hire her is Pops so is that okay with Veronica? It might be hard on her and what does she think. Veronica gives her blessing and then we see her at Pop’s. I was disappointed to see that cut because to me that really establishes how close these two have become because of what they have gone through together. Hopefully, we’ll still see that as it goes on. I know what we’ve filmed, but you never know what is going to end up in the final cut. Their relationship has very much been two people thrown into this situation where they had to survive and they clung to each other. So, it’s been a very respective, mutual mother-daughter relationship, even sort of a friend basis where each one cares about the wellbeing of one another. I’m glad that we see that and it is not just, “Here’s your lunch” or “You shouldn’t do this.” It is really developed in a beautiful, depthful way. It was really important to me. I’m a mom. It’s really important to me (period) in life that my kid is doing well, just like any other mom. Also, that there is this relationship there that is going to last all the way through their teenage years and so on. So, I feel like I brought a lot of that to Hermione and Veronica. It was REALLY important to me that they have that relationship and they are close. It’s not just she’s the annoying mother in the corner.
Q) How have you worked to connect to that familial bond with Camila?
A) It’s been great! Camila and I have been very, very close. We talked and both said our favorite scenes have bene with each other because there has been some real stuff there. Again, I hope it comes through in the series. But we definitely care about each other. Not just me – but also her – wanted to show a really great mother/daughter relationship. Camila is very close with her parents and she wanted that as well. It’s been great! She’s wonderful to work with. She’s brand new, which is astonishing to me because she is so good! And she is willing to go there with me! There is certain places where I have added a bit of humor that maybe wasn’t written and she love sit! She is like, “Let’s do it! Let’s go!” It’s been very rewarding.
Q) The cast seems to genuinely appear to be connected to this new fandom. They share Snapchats, behind the scenes videos and sharing photos.
A) Yeah! It’s a different world these days than say when I was on “24.” You can connect with your fans immediately and they can tell you what they like and (unfortunately) what they don’t like. For the most part, it’s been nice to get that feedback and that enthusiasm where in the past you didn’t have that so you were sort of removed so much so that you don’t know if people like it. You had the ratings, but you still didn’t really know. Now, you can really, really feel that immediately and communicate with them directly, which I really like!
Q) So many fans remember you from your previous work. You must get asked about it quite often.
A) It’s been really great! The fans have been like, “Hey! Can you do ’24: Legacy?’” I have no control over that, but it would be awesome. Other people ask if I’m coming back to “Teen Wolf” and I have no idea. Some people are like, “Bring ‘GCB’ back!” [laughs] I love that! A lot of people say, “I loved Vegas Vacation! Can you do a reunion?” Those were tweets I got within the last week. I love that there are people out there who care about what I’m doing or the characters that I played and don’t want to let it go. I understand! I never want a job to end. I want to keep going or go back to a job that ended so I can revive it again. I love that. I fall in love with the characters I play and it is hard to let them go.
Q) Is there anything else you want to be sure your fans know?
A) I have a nonprofit called SlaveryFreeWorld.org. It’s on human trafficking and it is something that once I learned about I couldn’t unlearn about it. I couldn’t shut it off or ignore it. I ended up doing work in that field for the last three or four years and finally started my own nonprofit organization and partnered with other organizations that do truly heroic work in the world. If I had it my way, we would be marching in the streets for human slavery and human trafficking like we did the Women’s March.
Q) How does new political climate effect your outreach and efforts?
A) I don’t know. Part of me is really pleased that people are looking at human rights as an issue. That, to me, is what modern day slavery is. It is an egregious human rights violation that needs to end. It will only end if people demand it ends. But it is very noisy out there. It’s very noisy. So, it’s hard for me to find what is true and what is not true, what is a political agenda and not. I try to steer clear and focus on what has my passion and my gut. That is what I’m trying to fight for.
Q) How can people get involved with your organization?
A) they can go on the website and learn about what I have been doing. We’re updating the website. I’ve spoken at a roundtable on human trafficking in Washington, D.C. It was wonderful to see how many groups were there and what we can do together. People can go on there and read about what we’re doing. Please donate! We need all the help we can get. And just research! I was astonished and about what is going on in the world and then horrified that people don’t know about this. They have no idea it is even going on and it is so prolific and so huge. It’s such an atrocity. I don’t understand it is allowed to occur. Unless good people learn about it and fight against it, it will not go away.
Q) As an actress, mother and activist, how do you manage to balance it all?
A) I try to make sure that I don’t lose the time I have with my daughter as a parent by not spending enough quality time with her. It’s been a very delicate balance between filming, being there for my daughter and trying to raise her. She’s here with me and my husband is in Los Angeles so it has been a lot to manage. It effects every state in America. If someone is really trying to get involved, don’t worry about my organization. Just Google what your local state is doing because the good news is that most states have local organizations that are fighting this and working with rescued girls to rehabilitate them and some are working on awareness. Those local organizations need support and they need people. So, Google is your friend right now! You can always find what you can do and plenty of organizations are out there that need your help .