The upcoming seventh and final season of The CW’s Riverdale, based on the Archie Comics, will see the gang take things back in time to the 1950s following Bailey’s Comet in the season 6 finale. And Jughead is the only one who remembers. Along with the sudden time period change, things will be a bit different, including Cheryl having a brother. But it’s not Jason. Instead, we will be meeting Julian Blossom, now alive and not haunting a doll. Your average Blossom, a bully, jock, likely overly confident, Julian is making his mark at Riverdale High and his fellow peers.
Nerds and Beyond had the chance to chat with the actor who portrays Julian, Nicholas Barasch, all about his role and the upcoming season. Along with acting, Barasch also has experience in theater, joining Broadway at age 10 and having recently starred in the First National Touring Company of the Tony-winning musical Hadestown as Orpheus, among many others.
*Interview has been edited for clarity*
Nerds and Beyond: You are portraying Julian Blossom, a character that has only been brought up a handful of times throughout Riverdale. Were you aware of his previous storylines on the series before you took the role?
Nicholas Barasch: I was not. I learned kind of through the audition and the callback, and then kind of the first week on set, Madelaine Petsch, who plays my sister, definitely filled me in on some of the details. So no, it was all pretty new for me.
Nerds and Beyond: How does it feel to play a character that has already been somewhat established and that was essentially dead?
Nicholas: Funny. I’ve read some of the articles that have come out, and people are like, “Julian Blossom is a real person now? This creepy doll comes to life.” That was pretty funny to me. But no, I think the great part about it is I get to be part of this kind of delicious, awesome family, and I think there’s definitely always anticipation every year of what that family will be up to. So it’s kind of dreamy to be in that position.
Nerds and Beyond: What has that whole dynamic been like since you started working on the show?
Nicholas: So much fun. I mean, you know, I’ve pretty much gotten to work with everyone on the show, all the core characters, which is so unusual even for, you know, a recurring role. But everyone just has a great time, but everyone is there to have fun and be creative. Me and Nathalie [Boltt], who plays my mother Penelope Blossom, we just have a ball, and then we have to, you know, once the cameras are rolling, we have to switch into Blossom confrontational mode, but it’s just a blast. It’s really a very kind atmosphere, and so then I feel safe to, you know, to be a bit of a bully sometimes.
Nerds and Beyond: What can we expect from Julian this season?
Nicholas: You can definitely expect some confrontation. I’m not sure how fans will react; I’m definitely a little nervous about that, but, you know, he’s not the most likable guy, I think. He definitely shoots himself in the foot a lot. I think for anyone to play a fully-fledged human or character, you have to find the three-dimensionality mentality. So I think he’s a pretty insecure guy, but he definitely gets his kicks by being cunning sometimes. Kind of toe-to-toe situations with some of the core characters.
Nerds and Beyond: Is there anything that you’re excited to explore more with him?
Nicholas: Yeah, I mean, the great thing about this job is every day and every week, I am surprised as to what I’m asked to do, what we’re doing, you know. The other day there’s a group scene, without spoiling too much, and there’s tons of extras, and there’s a very intense kind of ritual going on. And I was staring at the scene, just not believing my eyes, just the scale and the magnitude of these cranes and, you know, the sets and the set decoration. So it’s always just show up and kind of expect the unexpected and kind of go along for the ride.
Nerds and Beyond: Was it hard coming into the series, not only so late in the game, with it going into season 7, but also in the last season?
Nicholas: It was definitely intimidating just because of how huge the show is and how, you know, fierce the fanbase is, fiercely loyal. But again, I mean, the directors, the producers, if it’s the top down, I really feel like that’s how it works. And the atmosphere was just so welcoming. I had known Casey Cott briefly, kind of through the New York theater scene. And so he kind of was this great conduit for me; it kind of felt like he was the kid in the cafeteria letting me sit with him and his friends at the table. So there was just a lot of kindness around me. So any nerves I felt kind of disappeared, pretty quickly dissipated.
Nerds and Beyond: Does it feel weird to play like this mean character when you’re getting so close to everyone on set?
Nicholas: Yeah. People looked at me, and I’m, you know, I’m a pretty young, pretty smiley, friendly guy. And people kind of looked at me with a confused look like, “You’re the jock or the bully.” But that’s, you know, that’s the great part about acting, and lately, I’ve gotten to kind of get into some juicy, darker roles, which is new for me, and I’m just grateful that I get to show a different side of myself.
Nerds and Beyond: With this season taking place in 1955, what has been your favorite or least favorite part about exploring that time period?
Nicholas: Oh, my goodness. So without giving too much, Julian, or rather the Blossoms, sport a very fancy car and so learning how to operate the vehicle and not, you know, kind of damage it at all. I mean, some of these set pieces and costumes are just, they’re vintage. They’re beautiful. So navigating that is tricky, and I’m not … I wouldn’t call myself an expert driver. That was, I would say, maybe the most nerve-wracking but also the most exciting. I felt very cool in my car, my convertible.
Nerds and Beyond: Is there anything in particular that drew you to this role? You said you didn’t have any background knowledge into what kind of character you were playing. But is there anything that really drew you to it?
Nicholas: Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, it’s Riverdale. So, of course, this thing came through that’s already exciting in and of itself, but yeah, I think again, to play more of a bully, more of a confrontational person, it’s just a fun acting exercise. And that’s really how I thought when I auditioned. I did not expect to get it at all. It was really just like, “Oh, let’s have fun. Let’s play.” I think as a theater creature, and I was kind of, I guess, a character actor, if I would define myself as that, but I’ve played a bunch of pretty wide range characters. That’s just the fun of it, to disappear inside someone else.
Nerds and Beyond: Like you mentioned, you’ve done a lot of theater work, and Riverdale is known for pulling off performances every once in a while. Without giving too much away, is it safe to assume that you will be singing a song or two?
Nicholas: I would say it’s a strong possibility.
Nerds and Beyond: Is there anything that you would want to sing from the ’50s?
Nicholas: Honestly, I love that era, the doo-wop era. I definitely think the soundtrack is going to be lit. I have not seen any of the episodes yet; Wednesday will be the first time I see it come together, so that’ll be really fun. But no, that whole era is fantastic music because there’s a lot of crooners. I was just talking to Cole Sprouse the other day about it, and we were just, you know, talking about love for that era and the crooners, the Frank Sinatras, etc.
Nerds and Beyond: If you could go back to any time period, is there one in particular that you would want to go to or even in the future?
Nicholas: I’m kind of liking the ’50s now. I would say also the ’80s. My parents grew up in the ’80s, and it was definitely, you know, seemed like a blast. Downtown in New York. So yeah, ’50s, ’80s, one of those.
Nerds and Beyond: You’ve done a variety of projects, from theater to voiceover work to normal acting gigs. You touched on this a little bit already, but how would you compare those previous projects to Riverdale since it is so different?
Nicholas: Yeah, it’s super different. I mean, my main goal going into this job is just to get more experience on set just to feel more comfortable. I obviously have done a lot of theater, so I feel very free on stage. It’s just something I’ve been doing since I was little, so my goal, you know, and this is evolving and continuing, but it’s to just feel that sense of freedom in front of the camera, as I do on stage. So that’s been like, I know, it’s weird to say, but it’s kind of been a spiritual practice because I just show up on set kind of mentally ready to just play, and when they yell “action,” you just have to be fully present without tons of rehearsal, which is what you get in theater.
So I’ve honestly just been watching and learning. There’s so many great actors on the show. I feel that I’m around them all the time. And also keep going back, you know, often was when you’re guest starring on a show, you’re maybe only there for one or two episodes. Luckily I’ve been in more, so it’s really just experience, and I’m looking forward to doing more. I love the medium.
Nerds and Beyond: Would you want to do a role similar to this in the future at some point?
Nicholas: Absolutely. Yeah. I’m always looking to just challenge myself to get better, to play roles that are different than me, and also, you know, play a role that’s more like me. That’s a goal of mine. I think that can almost be more vulnerable because we can’t hide behind anything. But yeah, I’m excited to just see what’s next.
Nerds and Beyond: Is there a dream scenario that you would want to happen on the show?
Nicholas: You know, I mean, Julian, it’s no secret he goes through it on the show. He doesn’t have the best luck. So, I would say I’d like to see him thrive more, but I’m skeptical in how it’s gonna go. And I think … I mean, we’ll see, but I’m not sure he’s the one people are going to be rooting for. So I’ve surrendered to the fact. I’m totally okay with it.
Nerds and Beyond: Alright, I have some rapid-fire questions to throw at you, if you’re alright with that.
Nerds and Beyond: Who is your favorite superhero?
Nicholas: Oh my gosh. I’m so, like, not a huge fan of that genre. But I’m gonna say, Superman. Keep it classic.
Nerds and Beyond: Do you have a favorite genre?
Nicholas: I’m very much about small familial drama. Like Boyhood, Nomad Land, those kinds of movies are my jam.
Nerds and Beyond: What is your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
Nicholas: Oh my gosh. Something mint, mint chocolate.
Nerds and Beyond: The Thin Mints?
Nicholas: Very, there we go. That’s what I meant.
Nerds and Beyond: Are you a pineapple-on-pizza person?
Nicholas: No. I’m gonna say that’s a hard no.
Nerds and Beyond: Cats or dogs?
Nicholas: Oh dogs. Dogs dogs dogs.
Nerds and Beyond: What was your favorite TV show growing up?
Nicholas: I mean, I’m gonna say Breaking Bad. I probably started when I was like 15 or something. Yeah. For me, it’s just … that’s kind of, that’s peak.
Nerds and Beyond: With a bunch of reboots and revivals happening these days, is there a show that you want to see come back?
Nicholas: Honestly, you know, I don’t know if I can even answer that. I think I’m always intrigued, probably more by new stuff. But who knows? I don’t know. Yeah, it’s probably not the answer that you’re looking for.
Nerds and Beyond: That’s okay! And with this being your first and last season on the show, is there anything that you would like to say to the fans who will be watching?
Nicholas: I honestly, just … I’m very excited for fans to see it. I think it’s a wonderful kind of last chapter. It’s really, I know it’s been out there, and Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] and others have spoken to it, but it feels very, very oriented towards the core relationships and these characters that have been so beloved for so many years. So I think that fans will shed a few tears for sure. It’s just like, there’s a nostalgia, there’s a poignancy about it being the last season, and I think it’s just pretty, pretty great. Pretty, pretty swell, as they would say.
Catch Nicholas Barasch as Julian Blossom in the seventh and final season of Riverdale, premiering tonight at 9 p.m. EST on The CW, with new episodes every Wednesday! Check out the rest of our coverage on the series here.