‘Riverdale’s Drew Ray Tanner on Fangs Surviving High School, Plus What’s Next After the Time Jump?

Drew Ray Tanner as Fangs and Casey Cott as Kevin in Riverdale - Season 3
Jack Rowand/The CW

The students — some of them, at least — made it to graduation on Riverdale! Considering everything they’ve been through so far, from a serial killer and organ-harvesting cult — it’s a little bit surprising.

Perhaps the most surprised is star Drew Ray Tanner, who thought his character, Fangs, was being killed off in Season 2 — just as Tanner had quit his job at a car dealership and moved to Vancouver, where the show is filmed.

“I skim through [the script] and there, on the page, is ‘Fangs get shot,’ then later on, ‘Fangs is in critical condition,’ then ‘Fangs didn’t make it. He’s dead,'” he recalls to TV Insider. He stopped reading there, and it was only when a castmate informed him his character survives that he knew he was safe. For the moment. “At that point, [I knew] anything was possible,” he says.

Here, Tanner takes us inside Fangs’ high school journey and teases what’s next after the time jump.

Fangs went through a lot — the Farm alone.

Drew Ray Tanner: Yes, I lost a kidney, I went undercover with the Ghoulies and almost got sacrificed there. I remember I was hanging from a bannister one day and was dropped on my head because they were trying to kill me there. There were a lot of moments where I should have died.

Kevin Fangs The Farm Riverdale Season 3

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I think he’s immortal, actually a vampire that can’t die. He died once before and he’ll never die again. [Laughs] Throughout all of his experiences and highs and lows, he has finally found his family, and he’s gotten a lot more street smart. He’s really learned how to navigate things, make money. What he’s doing now and especially in this time jump, we get to focus on his relationships and hopefully not dying and using his experience as a tool.

Can he and Kevin [Casey Cott] date somewhere that’s not Riverdale?

For any high school student, your world feels so small at the time, yet it’s so colossal. There was a girl I liked in high school [who] lived in a town 15 minutes away, but that was a world away to me back then. For them they’re going to experience what we all do when we take our first steps into the big world and I do believe they find some comfort in breaking away from the town of Riverdale for a little bit. It strengthens their relationship.

Now with the time jump your character is pushed into the future. How does that feel?

As an actor it’s exciting and refreshing to portray someone closer to your actual age — you get to a point where you’re aging out of [playing a high schooler]. But there was, for me, a sense of melancholy this could be the last time I ever play a high school student. I was getting comfortable with playing this high-school kid and telling these stories. Maybe it’s a good thing to move out of your comfort zone.

Can you tell us what will bring everyone together post-time jump?

The town is really on the verge of becoming this ghost town because of Hiram Lodge, who’s come in and snatched up a lot of its real estate. It’s not benefitting the economy, it’s just benefiting him. When we go into the time jump, Riverdale is a shell of its former self and everyone gets brought back together to bring it back to its glory days.

Riverdale Season 5 Prom

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What about Fangs? How will he have changed? Or not?

He hasn’t changed in his loyalty to the Serpents and the codes of honor he learned through that experience. He hasn’t changed morally in that sense. But he is looking for something different with Kevin.

Who else will still be in his life?

A lot of people leave the town. Fangs is very close with Toni Topaz [Vanessa Morgan]. They live together in the house with Kevin. And of course the Serpents as well. That’s the foundation that they’re holding onto — the Serpents are still around and they are very much the type of family that, it might dwindle in numbers, but there’s always a heartbeat there.

Riverdale, Wednesdays, 8/7c, The CW