Lili Reinhart and Camila Mendes, the Betty and Veronica of the breakout CW show Riverdale, are still getting used to the spotlight, but so far, they’re taking it in stride. Unlike the characters of the Archie Comics, off which the series is loosely based, their Betty and Veronica are friends — no frenemy stuff — and it’s the same with Reinhart and Mendes in real life. They have the kind of easy relationship that lets tension out of a room, and on set at their photo shoot at a roller rink in Glendale, California, they’re laughing at inside jokes and naming each other’s childhood celebrity crush (Reinhart’s was Leonardo DiCaprio) as though they’ve been friends forever. It’s clear they love being a duo, partly because it makes the adjustment to being known, from having been complete unknowns just a few months ago, a little easier to bear.
Now 20, Reinhart started self-taping auditions when she was 12 and living in Cleveland, Ohio. At 18, she moved to Los Angeles but faced a setback after five months. “I fell very hard into a deep depression,” she says. “I went home and built up my strength. When I came back out here, I was 19 and booked Riverdale shortly after.” Mendes, meanwhile, went to a performing arts high school in Miami, then studied acting at New York University. She auditioned for a year after graduating but “didn’t really get any bites.” Her first callback, at 22, came when she tried out for Riverdale.
They’re learning to navigate fame as they go, and it helps that they have old hands like Cole Sprouse, Mädchen Amick, and Skeet Ulrich (Mendes’s on-set crush, who she calls “baddy daddy”) around to give them advice. They’re already pros at fielding questions about fan theories; asked whether they’d be down to play zombies, should the series go that route as speculated, they answer coyly, “If it was a sexy zombie, I guess…” They’re hoping for veteran status in the long-term but they gave a glimpse into what it’s like to be two of the coolest new breakout stars of the moment.