Luke Perry’s ‘Riverdale’ tribute episode was ‘cathartic’ for cast, crew

The pulpy, absurdist “Riverdale” confronted an issue in Wednesday’s season premiere, a tribute to late co-star Luke Perry.

“We wanted to be very respectful and honor both Luke and [his character] Fred Andrews,” says showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, 46. “That steered we must always all the time take an additional grounded, character-based episode that allowed us to hint the emotions.

“So it does nonetheless really feel like ‘Riverdale,’” he says. “There’s a little bit of gothic foolishness with Cheryl [Madelaine Petsch] at the beginning, a bit of a crime investigation story and a weird dream sequence. [The episode] is in the vocabulary of the show, but we definitely wanted it to feel different.”

Perry, who died of a stroke in March at age 52, co-starred as Fred Andrews, father of Archie (KJ Apa). Wednesday night time’s Season 4 opener, “Chapter Fifty-Eight: In Memoriam” (8 p.m. on The CW) is a stand-alone episode centering on Fred’s lack of life and his family and buddies’ reactions to his passing.

Molly Ringwald, who performs Mary Andrews (Fred’s ex-wife), says filming experience was like touching a raw nerve. “I pretty much cried from beginning to end,” she says. “It was like saying goodbye to [Perry] and dealing with the sadness of that.”

Skeet Ulrich, who co-stars as Fred’s buddy, FP Jones, had an equivalent response. “[It was] literally almost impossible to utter lines,” he says. “The emotion you try to bury from the four months prior to [Perry’s death] happening until we’re asked to re-examine it in the episode … it’s one of the hardest experiences I’d had [to do] on film.”

Wednesday night time’s episode will even attribute a small nonetheless pivotal look from Shannen Doherty, Perry’s former “Beverly Hills, 90210” co-star and longtime buddy.

“Luke had been trying to get her on ‘Riverdale’ for years, and the timing never worked out,” says Aguirre-Sacasa. “We despatched her the script and he or she mentioned, ‘I’d like to be part of this.’ [The episode is] a meditation on what Fred meant to the city of ‘Riverdale’ and what Luke meant to the forged and crew — and the viewers that grew up watching ‘90210’ and the viewers that watch ‘Riverdale.’

As troublesome as a result of it was to the film, Aguirre-Sacasa says there was in no way a chance that the sequence would not acknowledge Perry’s passing. “We weren’t going to say Fred was on a business trip indefinitely, or never mention him again,” he says. “He’s such a huge part of the show, and of Archie’s story. We knew we’d have to meet this challenge head-on.”

“In Memoriam” may need to be aired on the end of Season 3 closing spring, nearer to Perry’s lack of life, nonetheless Aguirre-Sacasa says they didn’t want to rush the episode.

“We decided we couldn’t do it earlier than Season 4,” he says. “We wished time to find out what the episode was going to be. Rather than start [Season 4] and interrupt it at Episode 3 or one factor, it felt like we must always all the time immediately deal with it.

“I’m so happy with this episode,” he says. “It really was cathartic for us to work on it — and I hope Luke’s fans like it and see the love that was poured into it.”

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