‘Riverdale’ Star Madchen Amick Previews Alice Cooper’s Nightmare

Mädchen Amick as Alice Cooper on Riverdale
Art Streiber/The CW
Mädchen Amick as Alice Cooper

When it comes to moms, Riverdale‘s Alice Cooper is more Joan Crawford than June Cleaver.

Maybe that’s what makes her one of the show’s most complicated and fascinating characters. She’s a woman unafraid to say the ugly things that nobody else is brave enough to admit. She’s a wife determined to keep her family together, despite maybe not really loving her husband Hal (Lochlyn Munro). And she’s the mother who sees—and is scared by—daughter Betty (Lili Reinhart) heading down a path she chose to escape years ago.

Oh, and now she’s a killer, having apparently brained a stranger who had come to see Chic, the hustler son (Hart Denton) she recently took in after giving him up for adoption in high school. We told you she’s complicated!

Madchen Amick, who plays Alice with such prickly perfection that we actually root for her, spoke with TV Insider about Wednesday’s new episode (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), teasing some big twists. She also gave us a hint as to what (or who) may be coming down the pike for Riverdale’s favorite momster.

OK, what has Alice gotten herself into this time?

Madchen Amick: Oh dear. What hasn’t she gotten herself into?

She’s got a dead guy in her living room…

Yeah, she’s got a dead guy she’s gotta deal with. She’s got a teenage girl who just keeps being defiant and doing things that she doesn’t want. She still has an even more strained and complicated relationship with her husband. Just crazy stuff.

She seems to have taken to Chic very quickly for somebody who is usually suspicious and guarded with most people in her own life. When this kid showed up, she was immediately mother bear.

Yes. And I think that’s just speaking to the guilt that she carries from—well, it wasn’t by her own choice, but still, she was a part of it—giving up her child. And so she’s trying to make up for all that time. There’s also a huge void that she’s trying to fill in her own life. She’s got kids that are not wanting to be with her, she’s driving her husband away. So this is something that she can cling on to and probably not see very clearly what’s really going on.

In this week’s episode, we get a little bit of clarity as to who this sketchy guy was and maybe some insight into what Chic has been hiding.

Yes. Yes.

And where does she stand as far as this daughter of hers? Betty shows so many signs of being like Alice. Very strong-willed, very smart, very investigative…

Has a dark side.

This is a clearly a problem for Alice. But does she also kind of respect her?

I think she definitely sees herself in Betty, and there’s a part of her that gets it, understands it. Alice knows that she can’t push her away too much, but then at the same time, she doesn’t want her to make all the same mistakes that she did. She is so desperately trying to steer her in another direction. So she’s just constantly walking that fine line.

How bad is it going to get for her?

You know, what I do really love about the way everything’s written is the relationship between Alice and Betty. It doesn’t matter how much odds they’re at with each other or how much trouble they’re getting into, when it comes right down to it, the two Cooper women band together and they take care of business no matter what. They can put their differences aside and they’re survivors, they’re scrappy. So I really love that aspect of what Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa, Riverdale‘s creator] writes for us and what we bring to our characters, as well.

It is so great that they write for the parents just as well as they write for the kids.

Oh yeah.

In this episode, they find a very masterful way to intersect Alice with a family that I wouldn’t imagine her getting into an alliance with.

Mm-hm. Exactly. I think that sets up and speaks to Alice’s past. Even though she’s trying to run away from that, and has been trying desperately to turn over this new leaf and forget that world, because of just the forces that are happening in town and their circumstances, it’s pulling her back to her roots. So she’s having to [work with] people from her past, just out of survival.

I love that idea of this woman who has cleaned herself up still having that ghost of her past living next door.

Yes. Yeah. They keep infiltrating into her perfect little world that she’s built and so now she’s gonna have to start to face the skeletons in her closet.

Do you think that Alice and Hal have ever been happy together?

That’s a good question. There was a scene that ended up not making it into the cut that spoke to why Alice made the decision to go with Hal back in their youth. He was the opportunity for her to leave her world behind. And so just the intention right there of why she’s with Hal is complicated. And that’s a lot to work through in a relationship when the base of it just has a completely different meaning. That’s something that’s gonna continue to be explored between the two of them and keep things complicated.

They’re kind of rearranging some seating charts here and Hal’s getting himself involved with Mama Blossom, which is dark as you can get. But I feel like it might be time for Alice to get an upgrade.

Hm. That’s an interesting take on things! [Laughs] Well, yeah, just keep watching. Just keep watching this season. Things unfold in this season. Yeah, she keeps going down different paths. We’ll see what sticks.

And since nobody stays buried for long in Riverdale…

True. [Laughs]

How far along do you think that this can go before somebody else finds out what she, Betty, and Chic are hiding?

There are definitely more revelations about the details of this coverup that lead to even more mystery that we don’t necessarily wanna spoil. But definitely the stakes get higher and higher as we go.

Riverdale, Weds., 8/7, The CW