‘Riverdale’ Newbie Gina Gershon Hints You ‘Don’t Want to Mess With’ Gladys Jones

Diyah Pera/The CW

It’s always a welcome surprise when new characters are introduced to Riverdale, as it will be with Thursday’s fall finale when Gina Gershon joins the series as Gladys Jones (a.k.a. Jughead’s mom).

Gershon will be joined by Trinity Rose Likins as Jellybean Jones in the highly anticipated episode featuring Archie (KJ Apa) and Jughead’s (Cole Sprouse) visit to Toledo. After two-plus seasons of hearing about Gladys and Jellybean we’ll finally see them in all their glory for “Chapter Forty-Three: Outbreak.”

Ahead of the episode, TV Insider spoke with Gershon about her character, Gladys’ reunion with Jughead, and the inspiration behind her role.

What should Riverdale fans know about Gladys Jones heading into the fall finale?

Gina Gershon: They should know that you don’t want to mess with Gladys — she’s not a good person to have as an enemy. She’s very protective of her family, extremely protective. You don’t want to get on her bad side.

Is it safe to say she has some secrets of her own? It’s Riverdale after all.

Gladys’ secrets are revealed slowly, they’re a secret to myself at the moment. [Laughs] The thing I really love about Riverdale is how screwed up all the parents are. The kids are always trying to clean up after their parents’ mess, and try to deal with the sins of their fathers.

It’s nice to see all the flawed parents… So it’s safe to say Gladys has her own can of worms… She is Jughead’s mother, and she was married to FP (Skeet Ulrich) so you can kinda figure it out. She’s got her own issues.

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In the past, Gladys stopped Jughead from coming to stay with her in Toledo…

People say that, [but] you didn’t hear her side of the conversation and you don’t know why she didn’t have him come. She might have been protecting him [or] it was not a good time to come. Kids have one version of their story, how they see it, and the parents definitely have their version of what they’re doing that the kids may not understand.

Will she be icy about the unexpected drop-in?

Aww, I mean, if you haven’t seen your kid for a few years, who wouldn’t be happy to see their kid? She didn’t leave in a bad way, she left because of FP, not because of Jughead. In fact, I think she wanted Jughead to come with her but he wanted to stay with his dad, so she took Jellybean.

Did you draw on any specific inspiration for your role?

I’m used to having a little bit more time to build characters. This happened so quickly and I had to create her so quickly that you just kinda have to go by your instincts. But I just kinda took a step back and used my imagination of what felt right.

I really liked this whole serpent thing… And I just kind of thought about snakes and how they are — if there was anything I kind of keyed into. I think that might be the only thing I grabbed onto as far as inspiration. I think snakes are so interesting, you know. They can be so calm and so sweet but they’re deadly as hell. I like that image. She was a serpent so I thought, ‘Alright, I’ll run with that.’

Riverdale, Fall Finale, Wednesday, December 12, 8/7c, The CW